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Online Dating Scams and Betrayal Trauma

Adrian was tired of feeling lonely. Her friends told her that she should try online dating. She was hesitant at first because she wanted to find a partner and not a hookup. With their help, her friends finally managed to convince her to put up a profile.

After a few days, she started chatting online with the man who claimed to be in the military. He told her stories of the people that he was meeting in Afghanistan. She often worried about his safety. Especially when he would chat with her in the middle of the night telling her how much he missed her and how scared he was. He always came across as a true gentleman. He was polite and always complimentary. He gave her the attention that she had been craving.

After chatting for two or three months, he started to ask her to send him some money because he wanted to come and see her. Adrian couldn’t wait to finally meet the man of her dreams.  He said the military had tied up his money but he had finally been able to get some leave. She was so excited to see him that she sent him the money that he requested thinking that he would pay her back as he had promised. After she sent him the money, he disappeared and he took down his dating profile. When she googled his name, there was no trace of him. No wonder why he refused to video chat with her. He wasn’t real.

She felt betrayed and heartbroken. She wasn’t sure if she could ever trust again. It had taken her two years to recover from her last breakup. Her previous fiancée had cheated on her with her best friend, and now this?

Was there something wrong with her? Why did she attract all the wrong men?

Instead of doubting herself, she should have been trying to identify the red flags of Internet dating. The question she should have asked is, ‘how can I keep myself safe?’

Here are some pointers for safe online dating:

  1. Go slow. Ask a lot of questions. If you feel like you are being put on a pedestal or being love-bombed, put your foot on the brakes. It feels good to have attention and be adored, but falling in love requires really getting to know someone.
  2. Never send photos you don’t want other people to see. If you are talking to a scammer, they can use your photos to set up a fake profile. If they aren’t a scammer, they might be showing your pictures to their friends.
  3. Personal Information. Avoid giving out your phone number or other personal information. A scammer will use your personal information to get more from you, manipulate you, harass you, or hack you.
  4. Are they acting intrusive? Are they messaging at weird times? Do they seem to be overly persistent? It’s possible that they might even be in a different country with an opposite time zone than yours. If they’re being persistent, it might be so that you don’t forget about them, so they can love bomb you, manipulate you and groom you. If this person is not a scammer persistence and intrusion could be a sign of controlling or stalking behavior.
  5. Some online scammers might start out by asking you for small things like photos. These small things might become bigger things until they finally ask you for money.
  6. Playing victim. They might have a sad story that requires your help. Example, they are widowed, lost their money, are stuck, or they need money for an investment. Never give money to anyone online that you do not know.

If you would like to set up a session to overcome any past betrayal trauma or to understand your relationship patterns, contact the MindNLife Clinic to set up a session with Dr Borschel.

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