BY RENEE ALKINS

ACCORDING TO RUTHIE AND MICHAEL DEAN, authors of Real Men Don’t Text, online dating has a lot of pros ... and, of course, some potential dangers. “Ruthie and I are all for online dating,” says Michael Dean. “It’s really an excellent way to increase your chances of meeting Mr. Right. We know many couples who met through online dating sites, blogging, Facebook, and even through witty Twitter banter. Don’t be ashamed. Get out there!” The Deans believe that there are great reasons to look for love online. For example, if you work crazy hours, work in an industry with mostly women, work from home, or all your friends are married, online dating can be an effective way to meet a wonderful guy. However, Ruthie and Michael strongly emphasize the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries, and having a strong commitment to safety. Don’t allow online dating to take over your life or thoughts. Set a limit (such as 30 minutes each evening) for reviewing and responding to potential matches. In addition, for the first few months, always meet your date in a public place – and never get in his car, go to his home, or invite him to your place.

Red Flags
Before you hop on the Internet, Ruthie and Michael Dean insist that you’re fully aware of certain red flags. After all, there are quite a few creeps circulating online dating scenes – yes, even on Christian websites! Here are 10 red flags that the Deans want you to know.

onlinedatingarticleRed Flag #1:
He wants to meet you right away. No guy should be beating down your door after meeting you online. If he seems obsessed right away, this is a huge danger sign.

Red Flag #2:
He pressures you. If you aren’t ready to meet, you aren’t ready. If you don’t want to be exclusive, that’s your prerogative.

Red Flag #3:
He displays anger or extreme emotion. This is an early sign of an emotionally abusive person. If you don’t want to continue dating or communicating with someone, you don’t owe him an apology or explanation.

Red Flag #4:
He sends you a “sexy” picture. These pictures can be anything from shirtless to naked. This is not cute, it’s not funny, and it’s not sexy. It’s a huge red flag. So, stop all forms of communication.

Red Flag #5:
He asks uncomfortable questions. Any question that raises an eyebrow probably means that you need to run. Some examples: “Would you cut your hair for me?”; “Will you come over?”; How committed are you to staying below 130 pounds?”; and any question that compromises your dignity, self-respect, and principals.

Red Flag #6:
He reveals inconsistent information about himself. Have you heard of catfishing? A catfish is someone who creates a false identity on social media, specifically to pursue deceptive online romances. Inconsistent information is an indicator that a person may not be who they portray.

Red Flag #7:
He has a list of dos and/or don’ts on his profile. This is a sign of someone who is demanding and bitter. Don’t respond. Don’t answer. Don’t meet.

Red Flag #8:
He won’t talk on the phone. What legitimate reason could he have for not wanting to talk to you? None!

Red Flag #9:
He makes you feel sorry for him. If you find yourself feeling guilty, or he tries to make you feel guilty (for not being into him, not returning his calls, or not doing what he asks), move on! Don’t grant someone a pity date, and don’t allow any relationship to be based on manipulation.

Red Flag #10:
He references past relationships early on. This is a sign that he’s not over his ex. You’re not a rebound girl!

Be Smart About It
With online dating, you get what you pay for, says Ruthie and Michael Dean. Don’t go with small, cheap, or free websites. Use online dating services that will attract the type of guy you’re interested in. Plus, the Deans don’t believe that you must stick to Christian dating services. Christian websites are not always safer, and most reputable dating services allow you to filter matches based on your faith. “There are thousands of success stories out there of people meeting and falling in love over the Internet,” says Michael Dean. “Ruthie’s good friend met her husband through a Twitter conversation. Technology can really mess up relationships – but on the flip side (if you are smart and know the common pitfalls, red flags, and who you are looking for), technology can be a great matchmaker.” c


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