Online Daters Beware!

How to avoid married men on the Internet

The Internet dating stigma no longer exists, and it's about time. But just because looking for love online is more mainstream, that doesn't mean you should let your guard down completely. After all, it may be easier to meet that special someone '- but it's also easier to be deceived by someone else's special someone masquerading as a bachelor. How can you avoid falling for a married man's cyber line? And what are the warning signs that the guy on the other end of the cute emails is otherwise engaged? Take note of these tips.

 

Cybersex, Lies and Video Tape

 

Jill Jones discovered the hard way that the boyfriend she'd met three months earlier through Match.com was married: His wife called! Jill, a 27-year-old Washington, DC, marketing executive explains, "Since he lived in a different city '- Roanoke, Virginia '- it was easy for him to sneak around." She says, "Although he made excuse after excuse about why he continually had to cancel a date at the last minute '- one time claiming he'd been in a car accident '- I got suspicious only after I knew everything." There had been numerous red flags. For instance, he only called from his cell phone while driving in his car. It turns out that Joe (not his real name) was talking to several women online. According to his wife, Jill was the only one he'd actually met and kissed. [Editors' note: Awkward conversation, anyone?] Jill recalls, "He contacted me a few weeks after he was busted and said how much he cared for me and that his marriage was on the rocks. Blah, blah, blah. I hung up."

Diana House hears stories like this dozens of times a day. House founded the background-check service DatingChecks.com to ensure women that their online boyfriends are being truthful. House, who has worked with thousands of grateful clients, says flatly, "Around 40 percent of the guys online are misrepresenting themselves in some way. The Internet is a perfect place to pretend to be someone you're not." Another investigative option is PublicData.com. Says 50-year-old Bobbie Henson, a Dallas media relations expert who met her husband online, "I used the site to view a man's driver's license. I could then click on his address and see the driver's license of anyone else living at that address. So if he was married, it would come up on the search." Or, if you know his name and the town he lives in, simply try WhitePages.com, where there's a chance the Mr. '- and his Missus, if he's married '- are both in the book. That knowledge is useful, but it can be painful once you've come to care for a lying lad. So why not start your sleuthing before you meet or very early on?

One sigh of relief: Some states are now requiring online dating sites to reveal up-front whether they conduct criminal background checks on their clients (which disclose not only criminal records, but also marital status) like True.com does, for example.

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