Erika Ettin: Sleuthing Online To Catch A Cheater

By Erika Ettin Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) When it comes to taking down your online dating profile, is there a right time? Should it be after a certain number of weeks or months of dating? Dating expert Erika Ettin tackles the thorny issue.

Tribune News Service

On two separate occasions recently, a male client in New York and a female client in Washington, DC called me to ask very similar questions: "What should I do if I saw that the person I'm dating is still active online?"

The NYC gentleman had been dating this person for two months, and the DC woman's "relationship" (for lack of knowing what to call it) was going on for about four months.

Of course, my next question inevitably was this: "How would you know this unless you went online yourself to snoop around?" Silence.

When it comes to taking down your online dating profile, is there a right time?

Should it be after a certain number of weeks or months of dating? Maybe it's after you've had "the talk" to figure out where you two are going as a couple? Perhaps it's after you've changed your status to "in a relationship" on Facebook, the ultimate way to make something official? Or, is it enough simply to unsubscribe from receiving emails through the online dating site?

While I'm a firm believer in dating many different people initially to see who's out there and hone what you're looking for, at some point, when you think you've found someone you'd like to date exclusively, it's time to scale back on your online dating life and start to enjoy your offline dating life.

I know many people get what I call "grass is greener" syndrome, always looking for the next best thing. All I can advise you to do is to recognize what you have... and enjoy it.

Unfortunately, there's no defined rule as to when it's appropriate to take down your profile. If you've already gone to great lengths spying on your new belle or beau, as my clients did, rather than jumping to conclusions (which they also both did ... one even went as far as to send me new pictures she wants to use when she goes back online and this relationship inevitably ends!), just have a conversation about it.

We could speculate day and night about the situation (and many of us do), and the reality of it is that we often don't know where the other person stands unless we explicitly ask.

Ask this person what he or she is looking for. Open up the conversation. Whether you get the answer you want or not, I could never know, but at least you won't have to resort to entrapping someone based on his or her online dating usage. Maybe, for at least one of my clients, the answer might be, "I was only on there to see if you were still on there! This is silly!" So stop guessing, and start talking.

Many people assume exclusivity without actually having the conversation. For example, some people (generally women but certainly not always) think that after sleeping with someone or going on a long weekend together, the two of you are exclusive. That's not always the case, and it's slightly unreasonable to be angry with someone for not being on the same page if you haven't actually discussed it.

The only surefire way to ensure you're both on the same page is to openly discuss taking your profile down. Generally, a few things are synonymous:

Exclusivity = No more online dating = Boyfriend/Girlfriend = Couple = Being Together

And if the other person refuses to remove his or her profile (or uses online dating after you decide to remove the profiles), then you have your answer about his or her willingness or desire to be in this relationship, and it's probably time to cut your losses.

The right person for you will be the one who discusses things openly and can't wait to remove his or her profile to pursue you and only you. Heck, you could even have a "profile deletion party" with a drink in hand. That actually sounds like a pretty darn fun date to me! ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)

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