One of the risks when seeking romance through online dating websites and apps is falling prey to scammers or fake accounts attempting to steal your personal information or cause you harm.
You may have heard of the true story of Debra Newell and a man named John Meehan whom she met online. What started out as a strong, passionate relationship, leading to a romantic elopement, took a turn for the worst when Debra ignored red flags about John that indicated he was not who he seemed. It was not long before Debra and her family discovered the truth of John’s past: criminal charges, restraining orders, and numerous accounts of taking advantage of women. He was labeled “a ticking time bomb, capable of unpredictable violence.” His classmates nicknamed him “Dirty John” which later became the infamous label for online dating scammers.
We see article after article regarding ways women can stay safe and vigilant when dating online, but what about men? Is there such a thing as a “Dirty Jane”? If so, how can men protect themselves? Below are ten ways to spot a Dirty Jane and protect yourself, as well as those you love, from falling prey to dangerous and unscrupulous people.
She has no online presence
Lack of social media accounts blares red flag in our tech-driven society. While some women, may say they have no interest in social media, always keep an eye out for online presence. You may discover that she has profiles, but they offer little to no information about who she is. This may be a sign that she has something to hide. Never fail to ask questions and do some digging. Her reasoning could be work-related (not uncommon) or filled with lack-luster excuses (red flag).
She hides her personal information
Talks of family, childhood experiences, past boyfriends, and other personal information are heavily avoided in every conversation. One word answers, diversions, and dismissals to questions dominate actual answers. Furthermore, she may not outright say what she does for a living and free time, nor may she introduce you to friends. Refusal to discuss family, friends, and work–all important factors in anybody’s life–are a major sign that not all is what it seems.
She “ghosts” you at random
Perhaps he found a gal who you feel has the potential of being in a long-lasting relationship. You dedicate time and effort into pursuing this woman, initiating conversations and discussing goals and needs, and it is only a matter of time before you propose taking the next step. After weeks or, even, months of messaging, this perfect person falls off the face of the planet. She stops answering texts or chat requests. Her online dating accounts may appear frozen in time or have then temporarily disabled. But before you can give up hope and move on, she begins talking to you again, giving some sort of lame or bizarre excuse. In some cases, emergencies cause long periods of inactivity, and you should not be worried if this happens over the course of a couple of days. However, if she consistently goes for weeks at a time, this is a red flag that something is not right.
She plays the victim card more often than not
Everyone has been screwed over by someone in his or her life. But if you notice all of her grievances in life involve her being wronged by family, friends, and coworkers, be wary of this victim card tactic of manipulation. She may be trying to earn your sympathy, making you more susceptible to lending money and other support. Furthermore, this is an indicator that she cannot take responsibility for situations where she was in fault.
She always asks for money
Spotting someone cash every now and then does not warrant concern, so feel free to lend her twenty for lunch if she forgot her purse or is low on money. However, if one-time deals become a weekly (or daily) thing and the amount of loaned money increases over time, you may have fallen for a common con-artist tactic. Ask questions and for proof of a situation before half-ing her next rent payment (again).
Her stories don’t add up
Maybe she tells you one day she grew up in Texas. A week later her, she now claims to have grown up in South Dakota. Or maybe she told you how her parents split when she was little, but you find out through Facebook that they are still together and strong. Whatever the story is, you discover later that she has twisted the truth. We can all admit to telling lies to impress others, but in this situation, almost everything about her personal life is fudged. When called out on it, she stammers too-convenient excuses. In this case, continue to call her out and stand your ground. She will either continue to deny or admit to her mistakes–the latter a fixable scenario.
She excuses or justifies bad or unhealthy behavior
We all have bad habits, and that is normal. What is not normal is when it is willful and constantly justified by ridiculous excuses. Someone who is not willing to grow and is dependent on you to “fix” or “take care” of them is a huge red flag. It is never your responsibility to be a crutch for another person, especially in a romantic relationship. A healthy relationship requires both parties to be growing individually and encouraging each other.
She is highly defensive
Going off of excusing and justifying bad behavior, you may find yourself on explosive side of the end of the stick when offering her constructive criticism or simply asking a question. She may sulk, play the silent treatment, scream and even resort to violence as a way to shift the attention from her to you. Calling her out on lies may lead to the most dramatic defensive tactics with the goal of making her look like the victim and you look like a personal attacker. While everyone gets defensive over certain topics, she does so more than normal.
She avoids seeing you in person and video chats
Maybe after weeks or months of chatting online, you have gotten to the point where you feel she is the one for you. You decide that you want to finally meet in person. When you discuss this with her, she seems to always have an excuse.
She has a secret, shady or even criminal background
Unlike meeting a potential partner through a friend, you do not have the connections to tell you whether or not a person is good or bad for you if you met them through online dating websites and apps. She may never admit to stealing money from her last job, assaulting someone, drug charges, or any restraining orders. Before getting serious about someone you met online, you should run a background check on her. If you do discover serious criminal charges, making her appear dangerous or untrustworthy, you should address your findings with her immediately.
Not every potential partner you meet online is a Dirty Jane, but it is crucial for romance seekers to air on the side of caution whenever talking to strangers on the internet. While some of these red flags have plausible explanations depending on circumstances, a slew of them continuously appearing throughout your relationship indicates you need to get out. Always keep personal and financial information off the table until you are absolutely sure this person does not have a hidden agenda.