Around 44 percent of all U.S. adults are currently single, and approximately 40 million adults use internet dating websites. For teens, online dating and long distance relationships are even more so the norm. Now more than ever, it’s important for teenagers and young adults to understand how to stay safe in long distance relationships.
Risks Associated with Online Dating
Since 2013, the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds using online dating has increased from 10 to 27 percent. However, meeting someone from over the internet for the first time does pose some risks. Around 53 percent of all users lie about their physical appearance on their online dating profile. Over 40 percent of women and over 15 percent of all men say they’ve had a bad experience dating online.
Nearly 30 percent of users dating online say they’ve been harassed or made uncomfortable by how someone contacted them through a dating app or website online. The number of dating scams or confidence fraud cases increased from 2,500 in 2015 to 15,000 in 2016, amounting to $230 million in losses. The average losses in these online dating scams range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Researchers have also determined that around 10 percent of all sex offenders use online dating for meeting victims. Teenagers and young adults like to be independent, but when it comes to meeting someone for the first time, parents and friends should always be aware of your whereabouts. Fortunately, there are red flags to watch out for, and different tips teenagers can rely on to help make long distance relationships safer.
Making the Long Distance Relationship Work
When you’re starting out in a long distance relationship, it’s important to establish boundaries and discuss what each expects and wants out of it. If you’re transitioning from being together to staying together over a long distance, it’s essential to have this discussion before the move. The goal here is to try and avoid confusion or jealousy from ruining things later on.
You’ll want to discuss whether or not the relationship is exclusive and where it could be headed in the near future. Take the time to get to know the person well before committing to anything or getting carried away with ideas of what could be.
Staying Safe When Dating Online
You should keep personal information about your home and family private until you’ve verified their identity and gotten to know them better. You should also be cautious of anyone trying to curry your favor with money or gifts. If someone you’ve never met before is trying to get this information or entice you with gifts, they should be reported to the website’s operators and your parents.
Avoiding Online Dating Scams
There are a number of con artists that are solely interested in victimizing and exploiting people who are looking for love online. Being cautious of compliments given over the internet and keeping real friends close by is how many people can avoid making disastrous decisions while dating online. If not, people and their loved ones can be conned out of their entire savings within a few years’ time. It’s happened before.
In some cases, people have been victimized for close to a decade, being conned out of money by online users, disillusioned by what feels like a meaningful long-distance relationship. These romance cons are not just for the desperate or naive; the average person can full victim to these traps if they don’t have friends or family to counter the ploy. Romance con artists want to isolate their victim so all their time and resources are focused on the online relationship.
Many authorities consider this to be criminal activity classified as advanced fee fraud where the perpetrator cons victims in providing payments upfront for services or goods that never materialize. Despite all the connectivity we do have, it’s clear that many people still feel isolated and yearn for some form of companionship. There are currently international criminal organizations operating through online dating websites attempting to target and exploit these types of people.
Experts say that people with few friends to confide in are the perfect target for the online dating scammers. These people tend to have fewer people and limited networks that can help warn them or vet new profiles. It’s vital to cautious of overly complimentary acquaintances who may be putting on an act to present themselves as the ideal person they believe you’re looking for. With many of the scammers, there’s a proven formula that they will use to manipulate their victim.
The fake profile often has a career related to the military, finance or engineering. Many times they will say they are inconveniently overseas or have a heartfelt story about being a caretaker or a single parent. If meeting in person is not an option, then you should at least be able to video chat on occasion. If they continue to make excuses or put an image up instead of the video, this should be a huge red flag.
Playing it Safe with Long Distance Relationships
Even if they’re likely to disapprove, parents should always be informed about any long distance relationships or potential meets. Anytime your meeting someone online for the first time, it’s important to be cautious. You should also try and verify that the person is who they say they are before agreeing to get into any relationship. Finding mutual friends or running an image search on Google is an easy way to check up on someone online.
For many people, being scammed in a long distance relationship can be devastating. Victims often become isolated and may give up on interacting with others altogether. Long distance relationships can be a great thing when they are done right, and you take the proper precaution. You can go in with an open mind and still protect your financial, emotional and physical welfare.
Getting input from the people you trust and being honest with them about how things are going does help you stay safe in long distance relationships.
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