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Dating Dangers: Love's a Minefield

Dating advice from the experts about how to find Mr. or Ms. Right.

Danger: Meeting Online

The anonymity of Internet dating has obvious hazards. If you're looking for love, your contact may be looking for just a quickie. Establish upfront what you are really searching for. Talk on the phone first, then arrange a brief meeting in a public place -- for coffee, lunch, or maybe a drink.

Dating advice: Take your cell phone with you. Let someone know where you're going, who you'll be meeting. Arrange to call your friend at a specific time. Park in a well-lit place. When the first date ends, don't let them walk you to your car. You don't want them to know your license plate.

Schwartz is relationship counselor for Perfectmatch.com. "I've used all the dating services ... I think online dating is great, absolutely the best thing of the 21st century. I've met some very special people."

Beyond people shaving a few years off their age, "I've never met anybody online who lied," she tells WebMD. "As long as they haven't said they're 40 and they're really 60. But I've never met anyone totally different than they present themselves."

But if someone lies about his or her weight -- lies to the extreme, that is -- that's what people really get upset about, "It's very unwise for women to substantially stretch their weight. If you're a size 14 or more, it's not fair. Just say, 'I'm heavy but still think I look great. You be the judge,'" Schwartz says.

Danger: Too Many Disappointments

Be realistic, says Falzone. "Keep the relationship casual in the early stages and let it evolve at its own pace. It takes time to build a quality relationship and the job cannot be rushed."

Maybe it's time to look at your criteria, says Schwartz. "It's not that bad out there. Maybe you're not choosing well. If you're going out just to be nice, that's not smart. The cost is repeated disappointment. It will ultimately undermine your sense of well-being and optimism."

Guys, are you going after women who are wrong for you, too beautiful and full of themselves, or are they too professional and you need someone more nurturing? "You have to figure it out," Schwartz advises. "There are too many good people out there for them all to be wrong for you."

A smart friend can help: "Tell me honestly what you think I'm doing wrong here." Listen, and then take their advice. "Or if you think it's deeper, you're being dysfunctional, maybe you need to get to a therapist," she says.

"I've never had trouble finding a guy," Schwartz tells WebMD. "It's because I really like people. I don't get bummed out if this one is not right for me. I know the kind of spark I want. And I don't think it's a mistake if it doesn't work out."

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