I love the “author reading” events that we have in place. They are a little different from the traditional author’s events that I have attended all the years.

I start with a standup comedy performance, continue to a short and exciting reading from the book with my husky voice and finish with a Q&A part – which is my favorite. I invite the audience to share their own experience from the online dating world and encourage other people in the audience to step into the discussion with their experience and thoughts. The fact that Mike #80 is there as well provides an interesting twist to the discussion – the male’s perspective. Mike #80 gives an opportunity to the women in the audience to ask questions that they always wanted to ask men and never had a chance – someone they can ask.

Questions that are often asked: Why do men take pictures holding a giant fish? Why do men post pictures with sunglasses? We get a lot of laughs and ideas as answers, and it all comes to one thing: a huge fish that was just caught is an achievement and proof that this man can provide! And what about the sunglasses, you might ask. Oh well, this just looks cool, as most of the men will tell you.

The discussions are very lively and we learn a lot from each other – WOW moments all over the place. During one of our “Dating when you are wiser” event, in Never Ending Book shop, Edmond, a man in the audience told us that he is “done with online dating!” Why, was the immediate question of course, why would you stop using a tool that provides you with a huge variety and options to get in touch with so many people that otherwise you will never be able to meet?

Scamming – was his answer. This sweet old school gentleman shared that he gets many young ladies approaching him and showing interest at him. It was clear, for him, that: a) they are not for real – it is a bot, or b) they are trying to get money out of him.

One of the ladies in the audience joined his words and shared her own story. This lady, let’s call her Miss Daisy, is in her early 70s. Miss Daisy is a very friendly and energetic young spirit woman who became a widow five years ago, after 50 years of a happy marriage. I have to pause here for a second and say… Chapeau! That is a beautiful life achievement.

A year ago, Miss Daisy joined an online dating site and paid money for her membership. She chose a site that targets seniors and paying members only. Sounds safe, or should I say – safer- than a free website that is open to all ages, right?

Well, not really. Crazy people can be paying customers as well and they have the money and the desire to do crazy things. Targeting a specific group age – seniors – provides a very easy target market for scammers in sites like that.

Miss Daisy “met” a lovely man on this website. He was charming and said all the right things. Time has passed and their texts became friendlier and a big part of her life. He was Mr. Right and she started to have feelings for him. When he asked her to help him with five thousand dollars, just until his investment is sold, she agreed and wired him the money. They never met but he promised her that as soon as he gets his finance in place, she is his priority. So, when he needed another five thousand dollars a week later and set a date to meet a few days after, she did not hesitate to wire him the money. This is what people do when they care about each other, right? This is what he said and she agreed with all her heart and wallet.

His account disappeared from the site two hours after Miss Daisy wired him the second transfer. Miss Daisy’s kids are now guarding her like hawks and will not let her use any online dating site.

We all do stupid things in life and the idea is to learn the lesson and do better in the future – no judgment.

There are scammers all around us and as adults, we know that and take precautions – a long password and an antivirus are a few examples for tools we use to protect our web existence.

Online dating should not be different – we are dealing with strangers that some of them might become friends for life or even our next partner and some of them are trying to get into our bank account and our private information. Our job is to protect ourselves and make sure we let the right people enter our space. If somebody is asking for any kind of material help, and you have never met this person face to face, know nothing about them besides the fact that they are charming in their text messages and you love their pictures – block this person immediately and report to the site that you are using about this account – a “contact us” option is on every site. Online dating sites are usually sensitive to this information and most of them will cooperate with you and will investigate to protect other users. Been there done that – reporting the scammers is the only way we as users can do to stop them and ban them from online dating sites. Yes, they can go and open a new account but it slows them and technically they might bump into issues when trying to establish a new account.

What else can we do, you ask.

As much as I support online dating sites, there are other ways to meet people for romantic reasons, and a face to face meeting can take place in a larger group setting, such as meetup.com.

I love the many groups that meetup.com offers and the option to create our own interest group. Hiking groups, book clubs, coffee lovers, comedy crowd and so much more. How about joining a meetup.com group that you are interested in their subject and start by meeting other local people that have the same interest as you. This usually becomes an organic way to acquire new friends and broaden your social circle with more people with a mindset like yours.

Do remember – when you join a meetup it is like any relationship out there – it takes time. If you find a group that you enjoy, keep on being part of their activities and become familiar with the members. Nothing can replace friendships and dating becomes a natural path when people like each other and enjoy the same things.

Yalla, be safe out there and don’t do – too many – stupid things.

Remember – no good story ever started with a salad…

Cheers, Renata

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