In online dating, chemistry cannot be determined without meeting in person. For seniors, background checks are necessary before meeting.
By Tom P Blake Finding Love After 50
By its nature, Internet dating creates long-distance issues. How do you know the character and identity of the person you're corresponding with from afar? Champ Patty is infatuated with a man she's met online. He's handsome, charming, intelligent and has a sense of humor. He wants her to visit him first. Should she?
An email exchange between Patty, age 61, and me follows:
Patty: "I thought I knew all about Internet dating but I've come across a situation where your opinion would help me make a decision.
"I met Bill on Match about a month ago. Since then, we've been speaking daily on the phone. I live in Chicago, Bill lives near Washington, D.C. He appears to be a charming, handsome man with a great sense of humor. He is an attorney, 69, still practicing on a part-time basis, and spends most of the winter at his home in Florida. We are of the same faith and even though we are not religious, it certainly helps create a familiar bond. We have "Skyped" and confirmed that the chemistry is there.
"Here is the issue - he wants me to travel to his city to meet him. Since I am infatuated, I'm struggling with this decision. I always believed that I if ever met someone on the Internet who lived in another city, for a first meeting it should be the man who should make the effort to travel to meet the woman.
“It's preferable to be in my hometown not only from a safety and security standpoint, but if this man turns out to be something other than who I think he is, I can spend a minimal amount of time with him and go home. I've always had a "coffee only" policy for the first date.
"He offered to send me a ticket but I don't want to feel obligated once I get there and I can afford to buy my own ticket. I may have planted the seed as I mentioned to Bill that I will be traveling to Europe soon for business and can arrange a connection through D.C."
Tom: "Caution is mandatory. Why isn't he willing to travel to see you? And even if he did, you still must be very careful, because you only know him by Skype, email, and telephone. Have you verified where he works and lives? You need to do a background check and some digging into his life.
"By traveling to his turf, you are at his mercy, even if you stay somewhere other than his home, which is a must. He would want to pick you up in his car and then what?
"If you stop to see him as a part of a business trip, you still have to do your due diligence and exercise the same caution as with any person you'd be meeting on a first date. I think what is nagging at me is your safety, not so much that he might not be who he says he is. Have there been any inconsistent comments in what he has said?
"Check out RomanceScams.org and Don'tDateHimGirl.com as a part of your search. I don't want to be overly cautious, but your safety has to be the top priority. If he is worthy, he will appreciate your concerns.
"In thinking long term, what would happen if you want to see each other on a daily basis? Who would be willing to move?"
Patty: "You mentioned some things I hadn't thought of. I agree with you. My brother is a private investigator; I'll have him do a background check."
The latest update: Patty added they are in contact daily. She finds him "absolutely charming, handsome and intelligent." They have a great deal in common and the chemistry is mutual. I wonder. Can chemistry be determined via Skype?
Patty said, "I told him he would need to make the trip to Chicago. He has agreed; no date has been decided.
"He will arrange his own transportation from the airport to a hotel and I will meet him in a public place. As you mentioned, safety is the number one priority. I have no plans to take this relationship further until I get to know him. It's a first meeting and he goes to his hotel and I go to back to my home after the evening ends. If the evening goes well, I will be happy to be his tour guide in Chicago the next day."
She promises to keep us posted.