Do’s and Don’t’s of Christian Dating Online
From scammers to egregious liars, to players and deceivers, I had met them all. Throughout my three-year stint online, my adventure was like a roller coaster ride. I was on and off the Christian dating site. Though it was supposed to be a Christian dating site, scammers and pretenders still proliferated. I had a love-hate relationship with it. Some days I would log on. But sometimes after a week of meeting ‘frogs’ and never meeting a ‘prince’, I would sign off again for weeks if not for months. Although I tried a few other free online dating sites, I couldn’t seem to leave this particular site. There was just something about it that always drew me back in. I felt that somehow, in one form or another, something good was going to come out of it. And by God’s grace something truly wonderful did happen.
After more than a couple of years of logging in and out of the site, and telling God that I was done with dating or relationships unless He Himself brings me someone good, a fine looking man contacted me. At first I thought he was just another one of those ‘fake Christians’. But the more I threw hard questions at him, the more he was intrigued by me. The more he also returned hard, and thought-provoking questions. He didn’t beat around the bush and admitted it when he wasn’t sure about something. Within a few days, he asked me if he could come to Orlando to see me in person. I could not believe it. For years, I thought I might never find someone who would do something like that for me. Only a week earlier I was asking God if there wasn’t a decent man out there anymore. And yet, there was this seemingly authentic man asking me if he can fly all the way from Louisiana to Florida to see me.
At a private capsule of The Orlando Eye during Cantrell’s first of multiple visits to Orlando to see me.
I was floored but I kept my guards up. I did not want to believe him until I actually saw him in Florida. But within one month of Skyping each other, I finally saw him in the flesh. He turned out to be everything I believed he was and so much more. His name was Cantrell and the rest is history. Err, our love story merits a separate post so I will tackle that later. So instead of completely crossing out online dating, I now consider it a legitimate avenue to finding true love. But before you venture into the unknown, there are pitfalls that you should consider. I listed them below so you can avoid them. Follow my ‘Do’s and Don’t’s of Dating Online’ and I hope that something truly wonderful will also happen to you.
Do pray. Before even trying to create an account, do pray about the whole online thing. You have to have an open heart and trust God that He will lead you to the right person (or that the right person will be brought to you). Besides, even in this day and age, some people still frown upon online dating. But as John Piper said in “Is Online Dating Good for Christians?“, it “is not how you meet, but whom you marry”. It’s sad but if you know your heart is right before God, no matter what they say or do, just brush them off. But do pray and pray some more. My relationship with my husband Cantrell was founded in prayer – before, during and after I had met him. It’s during our prayer times that I truly found him even more adorable and sweet.
Do know what you’re looking for. I had seen women (and men) jumping from one boyfriend (or girlfriend) to another, changing partners as quickly as they change clothes. I believe this restlessness stems from not knowing what they really want. I understand that if you’re young it’s not so easy to pin it down. But there is One who knows exactly what you need and what is best for you. And that is our Creator. That’s why prayer is foundational. Trust me, I’ve been there. I once met an American guy more than a decade ago online (not a dating site) whom I thought was perfect for me. But after years of praying I felt God saying no. So I rejected him but we remained friends. I never understood why God said no. When we finally met in person many years later, I was ‘shocked’ by what I saw. He was completely different in person. As we talked I knew there was no way ‘we’ could have worked. That’s when I realized that God really knew me better than I (of course) and who or what was best for me. Being married to my hubby now, I’m so glad I obeyed. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone. I learned later on that God’s plans for me always turned out grander than mine so I trust Him with every aspect of my life. Please ask God. He does know best.
Do create an alias. The Internet is replete with predators and scammers. That’s a fact. So take every precaution to protect yourself from any form of danger. Having an alias while revealing your true qualities is a good way of attracting the right (and some wrong ones) kinds of potential mates. But unless you’re ready to face the man you’re talking to online, stick to your alias. I used a catchy alias myself.
Outside Cantrell’s 84-year-old aunt’s house in Louisiana.
Don’t ever reveal your real name on the site. You can mention your first name but never reveal your complete name on the dating site. Always stick to your alias. The fact that you had not moved from the site means you had not established enough rapport to reveal anything about your true identity.
Do create a special email account. Our email accounts have some of our private info so using it for online dating purposes sets you up for dangerous possibilities. Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail all offer free email accounts so create one to keep and maintain your privacy.
Do use different platforms but cautiously. Just as offline relationships go through different stages so do online relationships. You can move from the online dating site to emails, phone calls, Skype video calls and eventually to meeting in person. So do use different platforms to get to know each other well. It also makes the getting to know stage more fun.
Don’t post or share explicit photos of yourself. This is a no-brainer but you’ll be surprised by how some women exchange explicit photos with men they had not even met in person. Granted they are not Christians (I hope!). Remember once you send those photos, they’re out of your hands. The person on the other end can do whatever he wants with them and there is nothing you can do. By the way, just because that’s the photo he’s using or shared doesn’t mean it’s him. So be wary. Remember, charm is deceitful.
Don’t post revealing photos of you. By revealing I mean photos that reveal your true identity or location. Putting your city is fine but never, never post photos that would give any clue to your address. Not even a hint. God forbid some serial rapist or killer chances upon your profile. Or you could be talking to a pervert himself pretending to be some nice guy. I’m always shocked when well meaning friends post photos of their passports, boarding passes, driver’s licenses or their visa details online. Granted these are not posted on a dating site (I hope!). But still, all these contain our personal info so why brandish them online? It’s like telling a pervert, “Here I am. Come and find me.”
Do research on the guy you’re talking to. Research, research, and research more. From my experience, if a guy gives me his ‘real name’ and I couldn’t come up with any info about him online, most likely he gave me a bogus name. Almost everyone is online now unless he’s a hermit. So if you don’t find anything about the guy you’re talking to, it’s safe to assume he’s not who he says he is. There is some truth to what people say, “If it’s too good to be true, it must be”.
During our courthouse wedding in Florida; couldn’t contain our happiness.
Do ‘stalk’ his Facebook and other social media accounts. When I say ‘stalk’ I mean check his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube accounts. What a person posts online reveals so much about his character. So check and ‘stalk’ his social media account closely before you even agree to meet. But if your guy is like mine who hardly posted anything on his Facebook account (at the time), then look for his details elsewhere. Although Cantrell didn’t even have a photo on his Facebook profile, I did find other info about him that confirmed what he told me.
Do Skype. I realized that one surefire way of finding out whether a guy you’re talking to is real or not is by asking him to Skype (or Google Hangout, Facebook messenger, or any video chat platform.). If he’s willing to show his face then he has nothing to hide. But if he comes up with various excuses then dump him like a hot potato. Most scammers apparently claim to be ‘American’ soldiers located in Iraq or some restricted areas so they can’t reveal their true identity. It’s a tell-tale sign that he’s not legit.
Don’t believe everything he says. Before venturing online, I did not realize how naive I was. But going online opened up my world and I learned so much about men more than I had learned in my lifetime. Men would say anything you want to hear just to get you. Period. So never, never believe everything they say until they follow through their words with actions. It’s true what they say, “Don’t follow a man by his words, follow him by his actions”. One common thing a scammer would say or do is profess his undying love and devotion to you the very first time he contacts you. It’s outrageous but trust me they exist. It always made me laugh but I simply ignored and moved on to the next profile. Which brings me to my next point.
Do ignore. If you don’t feel comfortable with a guy, you’re not obliged to respond. Just ignore. He doesn’t have your details. He can’t do anything to you. And if he does start harassing you, you can always complain to the Admin of the dating site. Christiandatingforfree.com is very good at that. Send them screenshots of the guy’s messages and they’ll be quick to block that guy. I had at least three or four guys contact me whom I thought were phonies. I just ignored them and sure enough, a few days or weeks later I got notifications from the Admin that so and so was banned from the site.
Don’t be shy to ask hard questions. When Cantrell first contacted me, one of the first few questions I asked him were about divorce, purity, doctrine, etc. Although I had nothing against divorce, I had to make sure the men I talked to agreed with the Biblical grounds for it. I wasn’t always straightforward at the beginning but then I got so frustrated when a guy would beat around the bush and waste my time. After a few encounters, I learned to fire away hard questions right away. It was the best thing I had done. I easily filtered out ‘fake Christians’.
Do be intentional. You’re on an online dating site so be intentional in getting to know someone truly. There’s no point in going online and being halfhearted about it. You’ll only be wasting your time and the other person’s. Be intentional in your talks. Even before meeting in person, Cantrell and I already prayed together a few times. We were clear on our intentions. Even before getting engaged, we were already asking each other ‘Questions to Ask When Preparing for Marriage‘. Boy, it was tough but it was well worth it. We thought we already asked each other half of the questions on the list so I thought we’ll whisk through it in 2-3 days. It actually took us almost one and a half months. We realized the questions were deep and we took each seriously. We wanted to make sure we were the right fit in most if not all areas. And we got to know each other on a much deeper level. Prior to this we also went through the first few chapters of the book of Ephesians together.
Do take it slow...if and when you can. Cantrell and I got married within months of getting to know each other. Our thinking was that we both had already waited all our lives, and we felt right about not waiting any longer. We did have the blessings of our pastors, families, a handful of friends and mentor. So we did go through all the right channels. But if you’re going too fast without seeking godly counsel, then you’re treading down a dangerous path. There is truth to what they say ‘love is blind’ so you need someone speaking into your life.
Do seek godly counsel. Online dating is both dangerous and exciting. You can’t be careless about it. You never know who you’ll meet so seeking godly counsel is an absolute must. Please let someone you trust know what you’re doing.
Home sweet home in Louisiana. For the past ten years, I’ve been crying out to God to take me home to my (future) husband. For the past ten years or so, Cantrell has been crying out to God to bring home to him his (future) wife. Isn’t God amazing? He truly is faithful.
Do introduce him/her to your pastor. I can never emphasize more the importance of this. If a guy is genuine and is truly interested in you, he won’t balk at the thought of meeting your pastor. Besides, that’s almost always a guarantee that he is legit. When Cantrell came to see me in Orlando, I made sure that he attended my church to meet my pastor and friends. I also did the same. I flew to Louisiana to meet his pastor and family and I’m so glad I did. The Sunday after our wedding, Cantrell’s pastor asked him to come to the stage. He announced to the congregation of 2,000 that Cantrell got married to a woman who’s waited all her life. He also announced that Cantrell himself had waited for the past 22 years since he became a Christian. He also took pride in the fact that Cantrell introduced me to him and that we sought his blessing. He mentioned us a couple of times more after I eventually joined Cantrell’s church in Louisiana. Cantrell’s pastor’s point was that some couples get married and only let them know after the fact. And when the marriage is in tatters, that’s when they come to him for advice. A little tad too late. If you trust your pastor, go to him. If you don’t trust him then either you search your heart or go to a church whose pastor you can trust. I had the full blessing of my pastor too. He and his family even came to our courthouse wedding which really meant a lot.
Do introduce him to your family. The second time Cantrell came to Orlando, I made sure he met my family. A few weeks later, I also flew to Louisiana to meet his. I am so glad I did. It not only satisfied my curiosity about his home town but it also allayed my fears. Being a Black guy, I wasn’t sure how his family was going to accept me. Turned out, I didn’t have to fear anything. Everyone just accepted me and made me feel welcome. Everyone also said what a great or amazing guy he was. Of course I already knew this but to hear it from the people who loved him was more than enough to remove any lingering doubts. Trust me, it makes a huge difference to see where he’s from.
This list is already exhaustive but I’m pretty sure there are still some pointers that I had missed. If you’re reading this and you’ve dated online too, feel free to add any tips I might have overlooked. My husband is everything I had prayed for and so much more. Apart from being a middle school teacher Cantrell is also an ordained minister. (I had always felt that one day I might marry a pastor or minister.) He’s been in the prison ministry for the past 10 years, with 70-80 inmates attending. But on top of it all, he’s a man of great character. This is what I heard everywhere I went. From his family, church mates, workmates and even to his mere acquaintances or high school classmates. They all said what a great guy he was. I had never met someone whose character has been lauded by almost everyone who knew him.
Cantrell calls me princess and treats me like a princess. He even puts on my slippers for me when he wakes me up in the morning. He strives to give me the best and is a stellar provider. I was surprised to learn that in his 45+ years of existence, he’s never imagined himself being with anyone until he saw me. Friends often told me I had a high standard. I never expected to marry someone with even a much higher standard than I. As one of his closest friends commented on one of my Facebook posts, “He’s good as gold!” I totally agree. I hope you too will find the ‘gold’ of your life, whether online or offline.
To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. Psalm 18:25
Although this has been written from a female perspective, the same principles apply to a man. So if you’re a man, I hope you too will find this useful…If you had been inspired by this in any way, do leave your comments below. Or if you have any questions, send me a private message. Use my ‘Contact’ form. Would love to hear from you. Feel free to share this with your friends who might find it beneficial. I desire to reach as many singles as possible to both encourage them and give them a word of caution about online dating. Follow my Facebook page so you don’t miss my upcoming blogs.
How I Found True Love Online – Do’s and Don’t’s of Christian Dating Online