If there's anyone who knows about the darker side of online dating, it's Nev Schulman. The 29-year-old rose to fame after his documentary Catfish, about an online flirtation of his which turned sour, became a breakout hit. He followed it up with a series on MTV which followed similar stories of digital deception across America.
Pretty soon, "catfishing" someone became a thing and, if we weren't already wary of the pitfalls of online dating, we were now fully expecting everyone to secretly be a 56-year-old snake-owning father of three...snakes. So when we got the chance to speak to Nev, who is the proud new face of Rocawear, we quizzed him for his advice on how to deal with finding romance on the internet.
Print and laminate this.
1. Be honest
"Well, I know it sounds corny and obvious but if you’re making an online profile you have to be honest, especially if you’re a guy. Because women are a lot less likely to forgive any kind of exaggeration, or small lie, or even an omission. If you end up meeting them, that’s the point...so be really honest with your profile."
2. Meet in real life before getting attached
"I think if I were online dating I would make a rule that if a girl cancels or somehow reschedules a date more than maybe three times, then something is up. Because they are trying to drag out, or drag you into an online relationship instead of making it into a physical real world relationship. But it’s hard when they look so beautiful and they say they really like you, and that’s how it happens. So you say you meet next week and six months later it’s like we haven’t met yet but we’re dating. I know it’s hard but try to give yourself that cut off."
3. Listen to what they have to say
"The biggest tip or general rule that I’ve learnt about human interaction is, and it takes practice, but to really listen to people. I think when we’re meeting new people or on a date, our tendencies are always to be preparing what we’re saying next because we want to sound interesting and we don’t want the conversation to be boring or for there to be an awkward silence. And you end up not really paying attention to what they’re saying. So rather than engaging in a conversation with them about something more meaningful or personal, you end up sort of going back and forth exchanging miscellaneous information about yourself. That’s okay, obviously, to a point. The more you can really just let a date, or even a conversation in a bar be about them, or something they’re interested in or getting to know them - the better."
4. Verify who you are talking to
"I think my overall umbrella online dating tip is to trust but verify. Human nature is take people at face value. When someone says something to you, generally you don’t assume they are lying unless they have been proven to be a liar in the past. Obviously online, you can feel a bit stalker-ish. Spend a good hour looking them up. Even if it means clicking to the second or third Google search results. Do an image search. You know if you have an image or two of them, you can reverse image it. So you can take an image from their profile and you can actually go to Google images and drag and drop it in. It will search for that photo. So, if it shows up on another website or profile then it might indicate they’re not that person. So you know it’s okay to do a little background check. Don’t feel weird about it. Everyone says they feel creepy. You don’t have to tell them that you did that."
5. Have a plan
"First dates are tricky. I think having a plan is important. Obviously at a certain point in a relationship, it doesn’t have to be so scheduled. But showing a girl that you really considered how the evening would go – even if it just means some kind of activity and then dinner, you’d pick the place. Make the decisions. I think girls do really like to be thought of. I think everyone knows how nice it is when someone else makes the plans and you get taken on bit of an adventure. So do something a little different. I always say if you have access and you can afford it, then maybe you can save it for the second or third date but something a little different."
6. Mix highbrow with lowbrow
"Galleries or museums are great for first dates because there is a built in physical activity where you’re moving and you’re looking at things. So every time you move ten feet there’s something new to discuss and talk about. It keeps the conversation going and you don’t have to sit awkwardly. So that’s always a good first date. It’s also fun to sometimes do for dates, if it’s a two part date – like highbrow/lowbrow format. You could do something really classy like a museum and then get fast food afterwards. You don’t have to be super romantic with candle lit dinners."
Nev is now the ambassador for Rocawear across Europe for the AW14 campaign. Find out more at rocawear-europe.com.