Adoption of the playful attitude
Dealing with the feelings of desperation
Staying away from idealization
Becoming comfortable with uncertainty
Creating your best online dating profile
Starting your online conversations
Managing your "catch"
Avoiding being eaten by online sharks
Ending your sour-turning relationships
In the Internet "jungle" of the online relationship advice, you may find this first-hand-experience-based page particularly interesting and worthy of reading.
My online relationship advice for successful dating is NOT composed of some theoretical musings. What I present on this page is intensely practical and originates from my online-dating-related research.
Yes, I have subscribed to one of the very popular European dating sites just to get some first-hand experience of how a dating-site environment works.
And yes, I have done it respectfully - meaning, that in my dating-site-profile, I have asked all my potential contacts to approach me from the position of: "why not", and "I have nothing to lose by responding to this message and potentially I may find an interesting - even if it's only a pen-pall-like - relationship".
I may add, that my 30-year-long practice of clinical hypnosis and counseling enables me to judge and assess the peculiarities of online dating environment with a degree of insight not available to the inexperienced wannabe advisors.
So, yes, you may indeed find this page worthy of reading.
Attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about something. No venture can be successful unless an aspirant adopts a proper attitude.
Online-dating-websites make it possible for you to do whatever you want, as long as you don't violate their behavioral policies.
And because they do not verify your personal information, the online-dating-environments make it possible for entering and operating within their frameworks with any kind of attitude you choose to adopt.
Doing whatever you want, and operating with whatever attitude you choose to adopt is a lot of behavioral freedom!
This kind of freedom is unique, and generally speaking not available to most of the people in various departments of our modern existence.
My most important online relationship advice for successful dating is that you embrace this freedom and use it wisely.
The rest of this page is written in the form of an experientially-based-guide to the most successful usage of online-dating-websites.
The initial stages of online dating resemble the game of chess.
What do I mean by a playful attitude?
Well, all kinds of online-dating-engagements - at least initially - resemble the game of chess.
You make a move, and your partner responds with a move.
The only difference between the game of chess, and the "game" of online dating is that in the game of chess one person wins and the other loses, but in the "game" of online dating - if the game is played successfully - both parties win.
As I've already said it above, the online-dating-environments allow for the degree of personal freedom which is not available in many other areas of endeavor.
It is this particular kind of freedom that allows for the adoption of as playful attitude towards your online dating.
It not only allows for the adoption of the playful attitude but it also allows for applying this kind of attitude wisely towards the ultimate goal of finding the best relationship you can potentially find through your online-dating-activities.
Freedom in itself does not guarantee anything. One of the peculiar qualities of freedom is that it can just as easily "make you" as it can "break you".
There are highways in Germany, which do not have a speed limit. I guess, your mind can unfold the idea embedded in this sentence by itself - as it applies to online dating.
My online relationship advice for successful dating begins with advising you to adopt a playful attitude because your chances for succeeding in your online-dating-activities increase greatly if you approach them lightly and with zero expectations.
Regardless of whether you are engaging in online dating because you are in a desperate state, resulting from the breakup of your last relationship, or you are just seriously in need of having someone to share your life with - there is no way, you could ever force anything to happen online, just as there is no way to force anything to happen off-line.
Relationships cannot be forced, just as loving someone, and being loved in return cannot be forced.
These things can only happen by themselves!
And because they can only happen by themselves, the best attitude to approach them with is the attitude of surrender to the process.
Surrender - in turn - means that as you are acting towards a particular goal, there is no tension, no insistence and no demanding in your behavior.
In other words: You approach the task lightly, playfully and with zero expectation.
Having zero expectation guarantees that there will be no disappointment, and believe me, you don't want to end up disappointed, as you are attempting to successfully date online.
Allowing for the disappointment to establish itself in your mind as your guiding orientation towards human relationships can be deadly in its consequences.
My online relationship advice which tells you to adopt a playful attitude towards all of your online-dating-activities would not be complete without advising you to start perceiving your online-dating as a numbers game.
The best way to perceive your online-dating-activities is to perceive them as a numbers game.
At the first glance, my online relationship advice that you perceive your online-dating as a numbers game may seem to be trivializing and degrading the online-dating-activities, but nothing could be further from the truth.
You have to realize that the ONLY thing which allows you to succeed in your online dating is the fact that an online-dating-websites allow you to play a numbers game.
All successful online dating is a numbers game, and it must be a numbers game. Otherwise, your chances of finding someone online, with whom you would really like to connect offline would be rather slim.
Just think about it ...
Assuming that you construct the best possible online-dating-profile for yourself, you are going to get responses. Most likely, quite a lot of responses will be coming all the time.
These responses will be coming even if you do nothing - just be sitting and waiting passively for others to write you a message, or show up on your page as those who viewed or liked your profile.
And on the top of all these passively generated responses - if you choose to send messages to others, view their profiles and like some of them - you will get more responses.
Now, do you expect that your first, passively, or actively, generated online-exchange of words will connect you with the partner of your dreams and make him want to continue to communicate with you, till you get together offline?
Do you really think that you, and the first person with whom you exchange messages online, will make a happy couple, of which others will be saying: And they lived happily ever after?
Do you really think that the first person with whom you exchange messages online will be the one with whom you will live happily ever after?
I certainly hope this is not what you are thinking!
I hope that you are not delusional, and realize that in order to find your ideal partner online, you may have to sift through a lot of rubble.
And when I say rubble, I don't necessarily mean all of the perverted-psychos, advantage-seeking cheaters, and other shady characters who abound in every corner of the Internet.
Under the term rubble, I also include all of the honest people who are simply not a good match for you.
So yes, most likely, you will have to meet a certain number of people online, before you will hit your jackpot. And this means that you will be playing a numbers game.
My online relationship advice is that you fully embrace the numbers-game of online-dating.
Embracing the reality of the numbers-game while online-dating, will not only enable you to be as successful as you can potentially be, but it will also allow you to adopt a relaxed / stress-free, playful attitude towards all of your online-dating-activities.
If you happen to be desperate ...
Online-dating-sites are not the best places to seek therapeutic engagements.
My online relationship advice for successful dating, for all those who are tempted to seek solutions to various psychological problems on dating websites, is to give up this idea in its entirety!
You can feel lonely and crave the physical and emotional connection when you are active on a dating website. Online dating is meant to help people fulfill their needs and desires, but not when these needs and desires are at the level of desperation.
My online relationship advice for successful dating for those who happen to be in a state of desperation is to seek online or off-line counseling and use these psychological-help-oriented services to extract themselves from a desperate orientation towards various realities of their existence.
This advice is intensely practical. If you attempt to relate to others from a state of desperation - sooner or later - they will sense it and most likely drop you like a hot potato, which can make you even more desperate.
Most people don't join online-dating-sites to serve as mental therapy providers. True, a desperate person may end up lucky and find a wannabe online therapist, and at the same time a relationship seeker. But the chances for this happening are close to zero.
If you are feeling desperate, and still want to engage with others on an online-dating-website, my online relationship advice to you is that you openly disclose your state of desperation, and hope that someone well-meaning and honest will connect with you.
If you choose to do this, you have to be extra careful in terms of not allowing yourself to fall prey to the deceitful, shark-like, advantage-takers, who are constantly looking for the desperate people, in the vast ocean of the Internet-based-dating.
Adopting a realistic attitude towards your online dating can make you fly high! But holding onto an idealistic attitude is almost a sure way to be crushed by the fall from a delusional high.
If you want to succeed in a particular environment you must adjust your mental, and physical behaviors to fit the particular characteristics of that environment.
An online-dating-website is a very particular and specialized environment in which you can succeed only if you adopt an attitude that harmonizes with its nature.
Above, I've spoken about the benefits of adopting a playful attitude towards your online-dating-oriented activities. And now, I'm going to give you a piece of my online relationship advice related to the necessity of adopting an attitude of acceptance and no-idealization.
One of the most prominent characteristics of the online-dating-environments is that there are very few virgins there. Most of the online-dating-participants have been already "burned" in different ways by various events and circumstances of life.
It will help you greatly if you keep in mind that simply by living and going through various negative life-experiences, the online-dating-participants, by necessity, must have been "burned" in one way or another.
And because they've been burned they carry in their psyches various psychological wounds and scars. These wounds are the life-induced-traumas which are still open and active. The scars remain after the wounds close themselves.
Is there a reason for the spelling of "scarred" and "scared" to be almost identical? Perhaps the spellings are so close to each other because the scars make people scared of being wounded and scarred again.
Yes - I'm having some fun playing with the meaning of words here, but I also want to make you aware that the online-dating-environments are ruled by fear to a significant degree.
What are the online-dating-participants afraid of most of the time? Attempting to list their fears from the greatest to the lowest, I present the following list:
Fear of rejection
Fear of no complete acceptance
Fear of being mistreated
Fear of being taken advantage off
Fear of being lied to
Fear of disillusionment coming from meeting off-line
Fear of miscommunication
Fear of wasting time online
When you think about it, it's a lot of fears!
The fears of being lied to, disillusionment, miscommunication and wasting time online, are specifically attached to the online-dating-environments because it is very easy to pretend almost everything online.
And precisely, because it is very easy to pretend almost everything online, my online relationship advice is that you totally accept the online-dating-environment for what it is, and absolutely refrain from any form of idealization.
You had better follow this piece of my online relationship advice, or else, you may end up emotionally, psychologically and even financially hurt.
Human life does not offer certainty in any of its departments. The only certainty of your life is that at some point you are going to lose your body.
Will your consciousness / your spirit survive your physical disintegration? Is there life after life? My honest answer is that I don't really know.
Nobody can claim knowledge of the ultimate reality. Some people claim such knowledge, but the fact is that they don't really know what they claim to know.
All I know is that each time, when I get into my car, with the intention of going from point A to point B, my arrival at point B is not certain.
Many things can always happen, and prevent me from reaching my destination.
From not being even able to start the engine, because the battery is dead, to having a head-on collision with a huge truck and instantly dying.
The strange thing is that while most of the people never think about how terribly uncertain, and how actually dangerous is driving, most of them drive without any mental inhibitions, but when they attempt to interact with others via the online-dating-websites, they are suddenly possessed by a whole bunch of fears.
I have already listed these fears above. Many things can potentially happen during your online-dating-adventures, and all of the things commonly feared can become your reality.
What's the solution to this problem?
My online relationship advice is that you awaken to the fact that the online-dating-environments are very different from the offline face-to-face interactions, and as such, allow - at least in the beginning - for almost complete anonymity.
And this means that you can present yourself in any way you want, and manage your interactions in ways which - at least initially - can never cause any problems. Your ability to manage your interactions online puts you into a driver's seat and gives you total control of your online-dating-vehicle of choice.
This kind of control over the way you interact with others is not possible offline and represents a very unique aspect of the online-dating-interactions. It would be foolish to not use the behavioral freedom which the online-dating-sites offer.
I will say much more about how to practically apply my above-given online relationship advice in the following segments of this page.
In most cases, the images are the most important part of your online dating profile.
It seems that the awareness of the crucial importance of the quality of the images comprising an online-dating-profile would be commonly present in the minds of the online daters and commonly applied.
However, as it is with most of the human affairs, what seems to be logically obvious and beneficial is not what most people are capable of doing.
I don't know why it is so - I only know that it is so, and because I know it, I am going to do all I can, to make sure that my online relationship advice covers all the important aspects of the successful online dating.
From my own, online-dating-experience, I know that most of the image-related-presentations, which the aspiring online-daters are using are utterly hopeless and utterly useless.
What most of the people - who attempt to successfully date online - do in terms of their visually oriented presentations boggles my mind!
They are given the opportunity to present themselves via their images, in the best ways possible, and yet, the most prevalent usage of the imagery on the online-dating-sites is so bad, that it almost makes you think that the lousy image-presentation-owners don't really like to be successful.
My image-related online relationship advice is that you really apply yourself in the area of your online-visual-presentation.
You don't have to go overboard. If you happen to be an attractive looking model, one image of your whole body - scantily dressed - would be enough. If you are average looking, at least three images of yourself are needed.
Your face close-up
Your whole body - preferably - in the beach setting
An image showing one of your favorite activities
Below are the three images which I've used very successfully during my online-dating-adventures.
My face close-up
One of my favorite activities
The second element of your profile is a written description of yourself.
And here too - just as in the visual-area of presentation, most of the online-daters display hopelessness beyond description.
Online-dating is like fishing. One of the popular online-dating-sites has been even named: PlentyOfFish - pof.com
I don't know the quality of pof.com service and am mentioning it here only to show that it's not just me who sees a significant degree of likeness between online-dating and fishing.
And if online-dating is like fishing, then, you gotta give the fish something attractive and interesting to bite on!
Online dating is like fishing.
My online relationship advice is that the less you give out online, in terms of the images, the more you have to give out in terms of the written description of yourself.
If you can present yourself like the ladies shown in the following images, the written component of your profile could be limited to: Hello boys - I'm ready and waiting ...
The image of yourself, similar to the images presented above, would guarantee a huge response, out of which you could pick and chose whoever seems to be of interest to you.
Even if you wanted men to be mainly intellectually interested in you, you could still afford to limit yourself to: Hello boys - I'm ready and waiting ... And out of the avalanche of responses, pick and chose those who are showing some intellectual promise.
I'm going to say it again: A successful online dating is a numbers game and it must be a numbers game. And the chances of winning a numbers game are directly proportional to the number of engagements.
Generally speaking, if you want to win in the "game" of online dating, you have to do all you can to generate as large numbers of engagements as it is possible.
When I say: "As large number of engagements as it is possible", I mean a number that is sufficient to enable you to go through the process of meaningful selection, and at the same time manageable, in terms of how much time and attention you can effectively give to your online-dating-activity.
If you are average looking, and cannot compete with the images presented above, then, you have to say online much more than: "Hello boys, I'm ready and waiting ..."
You have to say not only more but also make sure that it presents you in a very attractive and interesting way.
There is no way I could ever compete visually - on an online-dating-site - with the men shown on the following images.
There is no way I could compete visually online, with the men shown on these images. However, I could very successfully compete with them in terms of written about-me information.
As a digression, I would like to say that even though I cannot compete with the above images now - I could have done it successfully 20 years ago. Take a look at my old image presented below
You have most likely noticed that in the above sentences I've used the word compete.
I've done it to "presell" another piece of my online relationship advice, which is that you accept the competitive reality of online-dating, and adjust your online-dating-behaviors accordingly.
In the initial stages of the online-dating-competition - before you've had a chance to exchange multiple messages with your online partner - your only ammunition consists of your images and your written description of yourself.
It is absolutely crucial that a written description of yourself is interesting and that it serves as a great bait for the countless "fish" swimming in the sea of online dating.
The description-part of your online-profile can also serve the purpose of discouraging responses from the people with whom you would not like to connect.
What turns me off completely is reading descriptions in which ladies describe themselves as proud and demanding.
When I see the words: Proud and demanding, I'm getting a "negative erection"!
But that's OK, the proud and demanding ladies have a right to be proud and demanding, and to say it, with the purpose of pushing away the unsuitable men.
They preselect their potential partners in order to not waste time on useless interactions.
So, generally speaking, the images are always used to attract people, but the written descriptions are often used to attract desirable candidates and to discourage undesirable ones.
Of course, you can use the written description of yourself as a preselection-device, or you can use it without any preselective qualifiers, and aim at generating as large response as it is possible, and then, eliminate the undesirable connections simply by discarding unattractive communications.
Unfortunately, there is not much I can do in terms of offering you my online relationship advice about how to write an honest, and attractive description of yourself, simply because I don't know anything about you.
I can only show you the written description of myself, which I've used on one of the European dating sites:
"I'm an independent life-enthusiast, free of any obligations, and spending my time as I please. If I work, I do it only for pleasure, and to satisfy a variety of my interests such as Internet publishing, stock-market-speculation, and helping others to solve all kinds of psychological problems. I don't hold any grudges against life and maintain a blame-free, and accepting frame of mind. My life is essentially problem-free.
I'm seeking a relationship with a woman living in Berlin - the city in which I was born. Since it's impossible to foresee what may come out of our online-meeting, I propose that you treat this invitation as something potentially interesting and worthwhile.
If you decide to contact me, I would like you to do it from the position of: "Why not? I have nothing to lose here and potentially may gain something that will bring to my life a lot of color, humor, and joy".
I would like to add that one of the benefits of establishing a relationship with me would be absolutely free lessons of high-quality conversational English.
So much for now. I'm waiting for your answer".
I was expecting - the above-presented description of myself - to generate a lot of responses, and I have not been disappointed.
I've been even getting responses from women living far away from Berlin, telling me that it is "unjust", on my part, to accept only ladies from Berlin.
I've been also congratulated many times on the quality, and the catchiness of my presentation.
Here are some of the actual responses:
"Hi, You have such sharp 'claws' ... They gave me goosebumps! I'm left with the question: Why am I not living in Berlin? Regards, Z"
"Wow, what an enviable presentation! I regret, I wasn't born in Berlin. J."
"Good evening, reading your presentation was a pure pleasure. Unfortunately, I don't live in Berlin. Wishing you all the best, U."
"Good evening, There is no justice in your offer being exclusive, and open only to the ladies living in Berlin. In spite of all, sending you warm greetings from the south of Germany. K."
As you can imagine, receiving responses from women, who knew I would not be interested in them, because of their geographical location, means that I've received quite a lot of responses from ladies living in Berlin.
In my case, what generated a lot of very pleasant responses was mainly my written description of myself.
Writing is an art, just as the painting and composing music are.
My online relationship advice is that if writing - and especially, writing about yourself - is not your forte, you seek help with composing an attractive written part of your online-dating-profile.
You may even choose to invest in it some money, and hire someone who could give you good counsel. It will certainly increase your chances of becoming a winner in the "game" of online dating.
As I've already said it above, most of the online-daters display hopelessness beyond description, in terms of creating catchy, and interesting written descriptions of themselves.
Most of the people fail in this important area of online-dating, because of their low self-esteem. What I've learned about humans - during my 30-years of counseling and hypnotherapy practice - is that most of them think of themselves as being "not good enough".
Feeling "not good enough", and having low self-confidence is a world-wide epidemic!
Starting online conversations is very simple.
Starting online conversations is a part of your active search for a suitable partner.
If you are a woman and have reservations about actively searching for your online-partner, my online relationship advice is that you quit this kind of thinking.
Today's online-dating environments are totally accepting of men and women being equally active in terms of initiating online-conversations.
Attempting to establish contacts with the people whose profiles appear to be promising can be as simple as just typing "hi", expanding it a bit to "hi, wanna talk?", or asking one or more questions pertaining to a particular profile contents.
Almost anything goes in terms of the format of the initial message.
Online-daters are there for the purpose of making contacts with others and are always curious to see who's attempting to contact them.
It is their curiosity that assures their visiting of your profile, even if your initial message is limited to just saying "hi".
Considering the inherent nature of all your initial online contacts my "blanket" online relationship advice - which covers all of these contacts - is that you apply to them the KISS principle.
The experienced and successful players of the stock market apply the KISS - KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID - principle to their market plays.
The successful players of the stock market don't overintellectualize their market engagements. They apply to their plays the KISS principle. They take a position, knowing that it can only go up or down. If it goes down, they quickly get out, limiting their losses. If it goes up, they keep it to earn their profits.
The players who fail in the markets are those who torment themselves with many considerations and try to get ahead by using multiple indicators. The end result is that they become confused, overwhelmed and paralyzed. They are "market-stupid".
This common market-stupidity of the inexperienced players gave rise to the invention of the succinct, successful-market-playing advice - namely, KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.
The KISS advice is the most important piece of my online relationship advice for making the initial contacts online.
Just as it is with taking an initial position in the market, when you make your initial contact online, you don't know what is going to happen.
Just as your stock can only go up or down, your new contact can only turn good or bad, interesting or uninteresting.
That's why there is no point to agonize over any of your initial contacts.
The only sane approach to the establishment of the initial contacts online is to keep it simple, in terms of your mental and emotional involvement.
In other words - as you make your initial contacts - you gotta be dispassionate about it. Otherwise, playing the game of online-dating will only wear you out.
My online relationship advice is that you keep in mind that people don't show their "true colors" on their online-dating-profiles.
Grown-up people don't like to show their true - messed up - colors online.
They like to hide their dark side.
Most of them try to paint a golden image of themselves.
Because most of the online-dating-profiles don't disclose the true nature of their owners, there is absolutely no point for you to get overly excited about what you read and see.
Everyone has a dark side, and no-one likes to show it to others.
Your initial online-engagements will not tell you much about the people with whom you've just started talking. Their true colors will show - if at all - only after they start feeling comfortable enough with you, to show you who they really are.
So, again, KEEP IT SIMPLE, and remain cool-headed during the initial stages of your online-engagements.
So, you've caught some "fish" - Now what?
By catching some "fish" I mean finding a few people online, with whom you feel comfortable enough to engage in a longer exchange of information.
Managing your catch consists of WHAT and HOW.
WHAT consists of what you are going to tell them, and what you are going to ask them to tell you.
My online relationship advice is that on a dating site you operate under an assumed name and that you create an assumed email address, under your assumed name, for switching from a dating-site to the much more unrestricted - but still identity hiding - email exchange, in case you would like to do so.
Operating under an assumed name is not lying. Commonly, people assume different names for different purposes - one of them being artistic performance.
When the time comes, and if it comes at all, you can reveal your true identity, and your online-partner - if he has any common sense - should understand your initial incognito approach.
Because online you never know who you are talking to, it is much safer to not reveal any specific details about yourself, and start conversations in a way that describes you only in general, non-detail-revealing terms.
You can safely say that you have a higher education but you should not tell that you've graduated from Stanford - class 2001.
Not telling any specifics about yourself requires that you are not going to ask any specifics about your newly found potential partner.
There are many ways in which you could find out who the person you are interested in is - without asking any personal, identity-revealing questions.
You could ask what he thinks about Donald Trump, income inequality, tax-payers bailing out the failed bankers and a thousand other questions.
Asking questions is like subjecting a person to a test.
To answer them, your potential partner - by necessity - must reveal what he thinks and how he thinks.
And if you ask questions in ways suggesting your curiosity, rather than, your need for assessment, you can run your actual assessment without ever antagonizing the other person.
The HOW of managing your catch consists of how you are going to interact with your potential partner, and the ways of maintaining your gains.
My online relationship advice is that you adopt a very relaxed manner of interacting with your catch, out of which, sooner or later, you will be able to select someone with whom you will want to dive deeper into the realm of intimate relationships.
By relaxed manner I mean being non-insistent on anything, easy-going and easy flowing, allowing for the conversations to unfold freely in a totally unrestricted way. Being insistent and demanding is not only going to turn your potential partner off, but it is also absolutely futile. Online, the other person can lie to you about anything if he chooses to do so.
There is no way to attend to your catch in a meaningful way if you attempt to maintain too many interactions at the same time. My own limit in terms of the number of women I could comfortably talk online is no more than four at a time.
Even after you select the one you want to invest your time and energy in, don't discard the other seemingly promising contacts. Keep them as your online friends - as your online penpals. Exchange your emails, and talk to them from time to time. You never know what the future is going to bring, and it may happen that one of your online penpals will become your life-partner instead of the one you've originally chosen.
Yes! While interacting online, you are swimming in the shark-infested waters!
Meeting someone online - even the seemingly most wonderful and compatible person - should never be taken at the face value. Meeting someone online, dating him offline and getting married within a few weeks is a prescription for a disaster.
Before you make your apparent soul-mate eligible to collect your life-insurance or cut your net worth in half in case of separation, you absolutely must investigate in-depth who that person really is.
Hiring a private detective is a very cheap solution to protecting yourself from the unspeakable horrors of getting hold of the wrong end of the stick.
One of the best examples of this kind of horror is a story presented recently on Netflix, entitled: Dirty John. It is the story of Debra Newell and John Meehan, from which you can learn what you must be aware of before making any serious commitment.
When you run into a dead-end ...
As you interact with others on an online dating site, you are going to run into a lot of dead ends.
There are three kinds of a dead-end, which you are going to encounter on a dating site.
The first kind is a very quick connect-and-disconnect event resulting from a total mismatch between you and the other person. This kind of dead-end is the least problematic thing you will encounter on a dating site, and dealing with it is as easy as hanging up on an annoying caller.
The second kind of dead-end happens after you had already been exchanging messages for some time - without revealing your true identity - and you came to the realization that you really don't want to continue.
This kind of dead-end requires the courage to end the conversation in a firm, yet, polite way. You don't want to sound ambiguous here and after sending a final message you should block the other person from any further communications.
The third kind of dead-end happens when you realize that you don't want to continue your online relationship but you had already shared your true identity details with the other person.
This kind of dead-end can become extremely problematic if your online-partner happens to be either vindictive or obsessed with your person. Encountering such a person online is always an unfortunate possibility - just as it is offline - and there is not much that can be done to prevent it from happening.
The only thing which can limit such an unfortunate turn of events is remaining under an assumed identity online - as long as it is possible - in order to give yourself a lot of time to assess the true character of your online partner.
The following online-dating-statistics are Canadian but I'm sure they reflect what's happening in the realm of online-dating all over the world.