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is he a creep? watch out when dating boys from the ‘Net.

Dear V,

I recently met a guy online in a chatroom, and I really like him a lot. We’ve been talking for about two months now, and things are getting pretty serious-I call him my boyfriend, and he calls me his girlfriend. We have a very intense connection, and I feel like he understands me better than anyone I’ve ever known. I have to admit that I’m a little bit embarrassed about having met him online, and I haven’t actually told any of my friends or family. We’ve finally decided to meet in person, and I’m really excited. But what do I tell people? I don’t want them to think I’m a loser.

-Virtual Lover

Dear Reader,

With the plethora of internet dating services and websites these days, I don’t think there’s anything to be ashamed of in having met your significant other on the net. In fact, I think it can be a great alternative for people who are tired of playing games and waiting around for the right person to show up at their doorstep.

But I have to be honest-your situation is more than a little shady. First of all, meeting someone in a chat room is very different from meeting someone on an actual dating website-the potential for people misrepresenting themselves is infinite (not that it can’t be done on online dating services, but the risk of getting conned is much higher when you meet someone in a chatroom).

Building the false sense of trust and security that you have with your boyfriend are exactly what internet predators are skilled at doing, and they aren’t afraid to use your vulnerability to their advantage. I don’t mean to rain on your parade here, but it’s important that you’re aware of the risks in having a relationship with someone you’ve never even met.

How legit is this guy? Examine the facts: has he given you any concrete evidence about who he actually is? (Remember that any photographs he may have sent you could be several years old-after all, you’d never know the difference.) Has he asked you for personal information that he could potentially use against you (phone number, address, social security number, credit card number, etc.)?

Even if your boy isn’t a conman-and I’m not saying that he is-it’s still highly probable that he has misrepresented himself. It’s too easy to let little white lies about your looks, personality, and interests slip out when you’re chatting with someone via e-mail or instant message. I bet you told some fibs of your own!

If you really do want to meet this guy in person, make sure you meet him in a very public place, like a shopping mall, and bring along a friend. And don’t hesitate to scope out the situation before introducing yourself. That way, if he turns out to be a balding forty-three-year-old man wearing a ratty Star Trek t-shirt, you can book it outta’ there before he gets a chance to show you the wallet-sized picture of his pet iguana.

Best of Luck!

V

Fact’o’the Day: The word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek word “gymnazein,” which means “to exercise naked.” Hmm.

Please send probing inquiries to DearV@hotmail.com. All questions and comments will remain anonymous.

March 2, 2007

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The Miami Hurricane

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