I met my current partner on the Internet. She has given me reason to believe she is a good person, but I feel that she is not always completely honest with me and that she may have another private life on the web…. I can’t bring up the subject with her without getting into an argument.

I love her, but I’m confused about her past.

Dear Friend,

You are wise to have questions. Meeting someone on the Internet can be a wonderful thing, but it is very different from meeting someone in most other ways. The culture of the Internet makes it easy, and almost acceptable, to be less than truthful about your past and even about basic facts such as your age. So anyone who uses the Internet to meet people must build some safeguards into the process.

Here are just a few guidelines that we suggest for adults who chat with strangers, frequent social networking sites, or use a dating service on the Internet. (We strongly advise that minors should only be allowed to communicate with their friends and never with strangers. Parents must be diligent and proactive about how their children use the Internet.)

1. Never, never, never give your personal information to anyone before you have communicated with one another for a considerable amount of time. This includes your last name, your address, your school, your work place, and even your phone number. As you begin to trust someone, if they ask to meet you, only agree to do so as a group in a public place. Take friends with you and suggest that the other person do the same.

2. Be very wary of any information that the other person gives you. Expect it to be false until it is proven to be true. Only the most naive person believes everything that a stranger says. That is why wise Solomon said: “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.”(1)

3. If you decide to pursue a relationship, ask to meet the person’s family and friends. You will learn more by doing this than in any other way. If there is some excuse about why he or she doesn’t have family or friends, discontinue any relationship with this person. Even a person with no family has friends.

4. If the stories that a person tells you don’t seem to match what other people say, be careful! This is a danger sign.

5. If you catch the person in a lie of any kind, immediately assume that there are many other lies that person has also told you.

6. Be on guard. Listen to that small voice in your head that says something is not right. Do not let yourself get involved any further until your questions have been answered and your concerns have been completely settled.

Friend, you need to take this relationship much more slowly. Let things cool off a bit while you have a chance to get to know your partner better. After a while, if your concerns are not alleviated, be prudent and break off the relationship while you still have time.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles
1 Pr 14:15