Online Dating Gone Wrong: FTC Sues Match.com Over Millions of Fake Love Letters Fee (FTC) accusing the platform of scamming tens of millions of customers with phishing love messages despatched by faux accounts.
Technology has transformed the way we function as a society. Tasks that would be time consuming are now made quicker to complete, creating convenience in our lives where there would otherwise be a series of steps to fulfill, all thanks to technology. From the way we travel, to the way we communicate, technology has impacted every aspect of human life. So when it comes to romantic relationships, it is interesting to see how the internet has impacted romance.
Kissing in the rain, grand gestures to apologize, delivering flowers to doorsteps--we are all familiar with the cliche scenarios that are trickled within classic love stories. Pursuing a love interest was a task that has traditionally been a challenge that entailed a series of grand gestures to profess your love. Instead of the premeditated strategies of declaring one’s emotions, with a click of a button, one can express interest. Has social media sites evolved the way we approach intimate relationships, or is the internet killing romance? From beginning of a relationship to the very end, I will be reviewing how romantic relationships have evolved over time.
The “Getting to Know You” Stage
Without social media, initiating conversations with someone new typically required face to face communication in the past. Now with modern technology, you can get to know a person before actually meeting them. Personal information is now openly shared through social media sites such as Facebook, where you can display your birthday, age, gender, religion, and even your family members on your profile. Getting to know intimate details about another person was a form of information you received bit by bit as you progressed in the relationship.
Social media has created a sense of instant gratification, where all types of information is accessible at any time of the day. Ever since digital technologies have become ubiquitous, a vision idealized by Mark Weiser (1988), communication has evolved as a whole. With smartphones and mobile apps for these social media sites, communicating with another person is simpler and faster. Where there used to be landline phones and voicemails, there is now facetime, snapchat, and direct messaging. So when it comes to the “getting to know you” stage, most of the traditional processes that occur in this moment are avoided entirely with the help of social media. This allows for you to be able to judge a person before actually speaking to them, or meeting them face to face. In an article “How is Technology Shaping Romance?”, Jill Suttie comments on the process of finding a partner:
“while many people enter the dating scene insecure about their attractiveness and fearful of making the first move, technology now allows them to test the waters a bit without jumping in—by Googling potential dates, checking out their Match.com profiles, or sending innocuous texts” (2015).
Meeting new people online is a way to avoid face to face initiation entirely, and jump right into getting to know a complete stranger without the awkward first date. While online dating, there are some risks and dangers that can ensue. Without meeting someone face to face, it is easier to lie about your identity online, from your appearance to your background. This act of deceit is known as catfishing, or “where someone creates a false online persona to deceive another person” (Koford, 2015). From seeking love, friendship, or for entertainment, catfishing is a widespread trend that social media users have become wary of when seeking online relationships.
The “Making it Official Stage”
To establish the terms of a relationship would once only require a serious conversation between the person’s involved. Nowadays, with social media, to define your relationship not only happens in person, but online as well. Social media behavior has become a critical component of romantic relationships and how others view these relationships. Whether a couple chooses to publicize their relationship on social media or not, the perception of their relationship is affected by their choice. A common, but not necessary, step that couples take is making their relationship “Facebook official,” or changing their relationship status on Facebook from “single” to “in a relationship.” Research performed by Brianna Lane shows evidence of romantic relationships being affected by the single notion of changing a relationship status on Facebook, as the study found that--
“going Facebook official seems to warrant one's relational characteristics, in that those who disclosed they were in a relationship online reported greater relational satisfaction, relational investment, and relational commitment offline” (2015).
Relationship upkeep is also more demanding with today’s technology, as new modes of communication increases availability, giving couples the option to communicate at any given time of the day. This adds an extra tension to settle within the relationship, as it gives each couple a choice of when and how frequently they would communicate with one another. The easy access of communicating with your significant other could potentially eliminate alone time and privacy separate from the relationship, which is a freedom some individuals desire.
In some ways, social media and mobile devices may aid in achieving privacy and secrecy effortlessly. Social media and mobile phones give the option to delete information such as call logs, text messages, or photos, and any information that a person receives can be deleted at any given moment. The option to meet new people online, and the convenience of contacting anyone you wish perpetuates and supports the idea of being involved in more than one relationship.
Having access to a large sum of people in the palm of your hand is a notion in itself that creates suspicion and trust issues within a relationship. Being wary of deceit through technology and social media networks blur the boundaries and expectations of what should and should not be held private in a relationship. Dourish and Bell (2011) discuss the concept of privacy and the definition’s fragility, as privacy and what privacy means translates differently across different cultures and countries. Dourish and Bell describe the difference as
“it is not just that different people have different ideas about what things should be private but rather that around the world there are clearly different ways in which privacy is mobilized, made sense of, and managed” (2011).
Acknowledging the different expectations and definitions of privacy, it should also be noted that technology is functioning as part of romantic relationships that can either sustain or be detrimental to the relationship itself.
The “Trouble in Paradise” Stage
Sadly, all relationships are do not last forever. Where in the past, where one would break up face to face or through a sad love letter, we now see abrupt break up texts, public fights through social media, or phone calls that do not end well. Avoiding face to face communication and dealing with nervous situations through technology has been made simpler with social media. Just like internet users that are seeking loved ones through online strategies, internet users are also ending their relationships with these very same tactics.
Facebook statuses are changed back to “single,” some couples even remove couple photographs that were once uploaded on their profiles, showcasing their relationship. This fast paced instant gratification that we receive from social media allows for us to move on from heartbreak in new and untraditional ways than ever before. Social media not only triggers jealousy, dissatisfaction, and mistrust within a relationship, but it also contributes to our constant shifting attention from one subject to the next best thing. Without a doubt, the simplicity of communicating through social media has turned dating into a game. Technology aids our FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” a term used by Seppala when discussing “anticipatory joy” (2016). Because the dating pool is much larger with the use of social networks, it is made possible to find another partner online in no time.
Is Technology Helping Us?
One could argue that romance is being sustained through social media. In a CNN article “How Technology Has Changed Romance,” Breeanna Hare makes the argument that technology is simply reshaping how we view romance. Mentioning passionate interactions that people may have through technological devices, Hare makes the argument that “many of the messages saved in your phone are more intimate than your standard pillow talk” (2013). Within the same article, Philip Wang, creator of a video series entitled “Love Ruins Romance,” makes the statement that most complicated romantic scenarios could easily be solved with the use of a cellular device or messaging through social media apps like Facebook.
Sure, internet interactions can come close to being the real thing, but what gets lost in translation from real world to the internet is physical human interaction. Social cues, facial expressions, actual touch, these are all communication signals that are just as important as words. These features of human interaction are difficult or even impossible to replicate over the internet. During an online exchange, it can easily be forgotten how our interactions are real and have real consequences. This can create a mindset of treating online communication as a game, with the other person being turned into a game piece.
Social media sites, like Facebook or Instagram, have changed the way we seek a potential romantic partner. Instead of settling for someone we are interested in, we constantly try to find someone better, seeking perfection by analyzing a person’s social media page. This selective nature actually limits our dating pool, rather than giving us more options. A study performed by Chiou & Yang found that “ a large number of available options may induce more searches, and this may in turn lead to worse choices and poor selectivity” (2010).
Social media also adds another societal pressure. Understanding that your social networking profiles are a reflection of yourself and affect others’ perception of you, there is a certain pressure to create and maintain an image of yourself. Being exposed to different profiles and popularized pages of celebrities and models, our self-image is altered, and our expectations of ourselves and others increase to high standards that are hard to meet. Imposing unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others are detrimental to building new and healthy relationships. In Instagram Unfiltered: Exploring Associations of Body Image Satisfaction, Instagram #Selfie Posting, and Negative Romantic Relationship Outcomes by Clayton and Ridgway, they have found that “body image satisfaction is sequentially associated with increased Instagram selfie posting and Instagram-related conflict, which is related to increased negative romantic relationship outcomes” (2016).
Despite the obvious ways in which romance has evolved over time, it is also evident that the way we function as a society has evolved with the use of technological devices. With the negative ways that technology has impacted romance taken into consideration, it should also be noted that technology has provided effective ways in creating new and meaningful relationships. From my analysis, I leave with one observation: maybe romance has not been ruined, but redefined.
Chiou, W., & Yang, M. (2010). Looking online for the best romantic partner reduces decision
quality: The moderating role of choice-making strategies. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking.
Clayton, R., & Ridgway, J. (2016). Instagram unfiltered: Exploring associations of body image
satisfaction, Instagram #selfie posting, and negative romantic relationship outcomes. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking.
Dourish, P., & Bell, G. (2014). Rethinking privacy. Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous
Computing. Boston: MIT Press.
Facebook. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/
Hare, B. (2013). How technology has changed romance. CNN.
Koford, J. (2015). BYU women victimized by ‘catfish’ relationship deception. The Daily
Universe. Utah Press Association.
Lane, B. (2015). Making it Facebook official: The warranting value of online relationship status
disclosures on relational characteristics. Computers in Human Behavior.
Seppala, E. (2016). Stop chasing the future. The Happiness Track. New York: Harper Collins.
Suttie, J. (2015). How is technology shaping romance? Greater Good Magazine. UC Berkeley:
Greater Good Science Center.
Viacom. (2017). Catfish: The TV Show. Retrieved from http://www.mtv.com/shows/catfish-the-tv-show
Weiser, M. (1991). The computer for the 21st century. Scientific American.
Home; Love Letters; Dating; Internet Dating - Di. In fact, they become even lonelier than when they first started because now they can`t even date people.
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Scammers on dating sites can be a real threat. Unfortunately, a scammer can be found on any dating website, in social networks, etc. Professional scammers successfully earn hundreds of millions of dollars, rubles, euros a year, on their victims. They turn romantic dating sites into a kind of art form, the purpose of which is to profit from one of the most vulnerable needs of people – to be loved and to love. Romantic scammers so master their skills that even those who are usually not susceptible to deception become victims under the onslaught of professional tricks. In order to avoid scam letters on dating sites, it’s not enough to be just cautious, you need to know and understand how they work to recognize a scammer at an early stage. And here is the example of scam letters:
“Hello, Garry! I prefer real dating but, I liked your photo and, therefore, decided to write you. I think that you are an interesting and sociable man. Let me introduce myself. My name is Kate and I’m 27 years old. I was born on September 14th. I live in Moscow. I’m in divorce with my husband and we have a little daughter. I tried to get acquainted with local men, but I didn’t like any of them. There was no understanding in our “relationships”. So, I decided to register on the dating site and get acquainted with a man from the United Kingdom. You may ask why I need it. I want to find a pen-friend who can understand me and maybe something more. I visit the UK every year and the distance is not a problem if we want to meet. I want to continue to communicate with you. Do you have free time? If you have free time, how do you spend it? I want to know more about you and your character. Tell me about this. I think that you are a sociable and romantic man... Am I right? Write to my email address. It’s faster and more convenient. Write to me and tell me a little about yourself. I hope to receive your reply. My email: …”
This is the first part of how Russian scam letters may look like.
“Hello, my dear Garry! To be honest, I didn’t expect to get your answer because I prefer real communication and this is my first experience of dating via the site. I liked you and so I decided to write you. As you can understand, I’m not looking for boys, I need a real man. It’s important to me to have an attentive intelligent man with a good sense of humor and a kind heart for a serious relationship. I think that English men appreciate family and it is on the first place for them. I want to meet a man who will love me and appreciate my good attitude to him. When I saw your profile I decided to write you. I will be very pleased to consider you my friend! I always try to meet new people so I have many friends and acquaintances. My friends say that I am an interesting lady with good sense of humor! I like to spend my free time with my friends when I have such an opportunity. Unfortunately, I have to work a lot because I want my little daughter has everything she wants. And her father doesn’t support me and doesn’t give money for her. But don’t worry about it. I don’t want to talk about bad things of my life with you. So, let’s continue talking about something good… I like to cook. I even got special courses for this. I like listening to music, reading books and watching movies. I watch different movies detective, drama, thriller, etc. It depends on my mood. Do you have many friends? What kind of woman do you need? I’m waiting for your next letter. Please don’t hesitate to write me more about yourself. Believe me, it is very pleasant to communicate with you”.
Here everything is simple – she just wants to show you how poor she is.
“Hi, my love! I’m very glad to hear from you! Can you imagine that I’m sitting at the other end of the line, reading this letter and smiling? :) As always, I am very happy to receive your letter. Communication with you is the best that is happening to me in these few days. You can write anything in letters, but I want you to know that I’m honest with you. I don’t like when people lie and prefer to tell the truth. I think that I fall in love with you! You are the best man I ever met!!!! I hope to see your answer every day. It’s the real happiness for me! You’re a kind man and I want to be with you. I hope that someday I will introduce you to my friends. I’m sure you’ll like them. By the way, I will have a vacation soon and I can fly to visit you. What do think about it? :)) Or you can fly to me during my vacation. Please don’t refuse me. I look forward to hearing from you with impatience”.
As you see, she falls in love with you in a week. Do you think it is possible? Of course, no! Many dating sites are “attacked” by such women, but, for example, romancecompass has no such scams. It gives 100% guarantee that all women are carefully checked.
“Hello, my dear Garry! I often thought about you, but I couldn’t write earlier. You have become a friend for me. I’m glad that I can easily communicate with you. I’m really happy that you invite me to your home. But baby, I have a problem. I need your help. Could you please send me 1000 dollars for the tickets? I really feel bad asking you for money. I understand that we know each other not so good yet. But our short time communication became very important for me! Of course, you can refuse, I will not be offended! But trusting me, you will show yourself as a real man. I’m very pleased to understand that I could meet such a gentleman. I think I’m very lucky! I would also be very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you on the phone. What do you think if I call you one day? Write me your mobile number and we can write messages to each other sometimes if you don’t mind.”
This was the scam love letter format. As you can understand the essence of this story is to be extremely attentive and careful. The scheme can really be thought out, but scammers always skip some little things that should alert. And if your virtual friend asks you to pay for something, you must be 100% sure in this person.
Here are the recommendations for you:
- If a girl constantly complains about a bad life, it is worth thinking about it.
- Ask a girl to take a photo of herself with a face and she should somehow gesture in order to make sure that this is a real girl from a photo.
- And never sends money to a person you don’t know. If you want her to fly, then just buy her a ticket online and don’t answer scam letters where a girl is asking for money.
- Or just use the dating site romancecompass without any scam of this type.
by Laura Yates
In the first of her new series, relationship coach Laura Yates explores the LA dating scene – and how the lessons she’s learned can apply to dating anywhere in the world
Coming to LA has been an eye opening experience in so many ways! As a single girl, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at the LA dating scene and share my experience and observations through this blog series.
The main thing I’ve noticed about LA dating is that, straightaway; many people tell you that it’s difficult. Telling friends out here that I was looking to dip my toe in the dating waters was often met with comments like ‘Be careful who you trust’, ‘It’s fun but everyone is looking for the next best thing’ and ‘Whatever you do, don’t date actors, models or comedians. They’re all crazy.’ The latter is especially difficult because 80% of the male dating population in LA seem to fall into one of these three camps. You rarely see someone on a dating site who lists their job as something like Marketing Manager, for example. Plus, when you work for yourself and spend time working in cafes, chatting to people, you meet a lot of ‘industry’ people there too.
But I suppose that’s to be expected. LA is the entertainment capital of the world after all, and a large percentage of the people who come here are trying to break into the industry. What’s brilliant about it though is that anything is possible here. People go after their dreams and ambitions. And people talk to each other! What’s not to like about that mindset? It’s refreshing.
So, with these warnings in mind, I jumped on a few apps and approached it with optimism. I think that wherever you’re dating in the world, you have to go into it with excitement and optimism. The idea is to have fun and meet new people. So, my first tip would be to not let other people’s perspectives tarnish your own judgement. Having heard that LA was the world’s toughest place to date, it would be easy to say ‘Nah, it’s not worth the hassle’, but why not embrace the chance to meet new people in a different country? After all, the whole point of going on a date is to meet someone new, learn something, and have new experiences.
The first date that I went on was with a very handsome 37 year old writer and producer. We met at a café close to where I’m staying and the date started well. He was friendly and had a gorgeous smile. We got talking about our work. He was fascinated by what I do and, turns out, he’s writing a new show about dating. Who knew?! So, what I thought was supposed to be a date quickly turned into what felt like a research session, and I’m still not sure if this guy was just using dating apps to find potential contributors for his show or not! Needless to say, that one didn’t go anywhere!
Still, the experience was quite funny and there are plenty more fish in the LA dating pond! My next date was with a very cute guy who worked in the start-up world – something I’m definitely a bit more familiar with. I felt good about this one from the outset. He was very proactive in arranging the date and chose a good location: the very chic rooftop bar of the Shangri-La Hotel.
One thing I have noticed is that, compared to the UK, men out here seem to be very decisive. They don’t want to message for days on end. Instead, they want to establish that you have some things in common and then get straight to meeting in person. Maybe that’s because people have more flexible schedules here and the good weather encourages you to get out and about. I think it’s a great way to approach online dating. A website or app should just be the tool you use to make contact with someone. Don’t spend too long messaging because you can think you’re building up a connection, only to find out that they are completely different in real life to how you expected! And ladies, don’t be shy about making the first move and suggesting a meet-up. If you’re both on a dating site then there’s no need to be coy.
The date went very well. We had lots in common and the mimosas were flowing – but not too much! I never like to drink too much on dates, especially first dates, because I want to have clear judgement – and stay safe, of course! He was funny, a little cheeky (just the right amount) and a gentleman. I left feeling the buzz of quite a few butterflies. I decided to treat myself on the way home with a trip to Whole Foods and offered one of my muffins to a homeless man – we both had to laugh when he asked whether they were gluten free or the ones with flaxseed in them (his favourite) – how very LA!
Stay tuned to find out what happened next with Mr. Start-up (and some other dates too…)
Laura Yates is a relationship coach and writer who specialises in helping people through break-ups and heartbreak. Laura provides clients with bespoke tools, techniques and mindsets that enable them to deal with their emotional struggles whilst moving forward in their life with renewed energy and focus. Laura also helps people to build up their confidence, communication and interaction skills when getting back into dating.
If this article gave you the confidence to find your match, try eHarmony today!Join Now
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In the midst of the negative noise around online dating, I just want to say thank which I am still exploring through love letters, missed connections, the love I.
Singles who are seeking love and romance online. As online dating becomes more popular, users need better protection from predators.
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