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Clues (blog)

Why You Need a Date-a-Base

In my book, InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date, I discuss the importance of creating a Date-a-Base, which is really a database for your dates. This is crucial because it allows you to have one email address that you use on every single dating site, which then captures all your email and photo exchanges in one dedicated place. 

Let's face it, we've all heard horror stories about online dating -- someone's gone missing on the news or a friend of a friend had a horrendous experience. We can control much of this but only to a point. We can InvestiDate and be prepared. We can also leave a digital trail via a Date-a-Base. 

Here are some tips for creating an effective Date-a-Base:

Create a Dating Only Email. This is key to the Date-a-Base system. You want ONE email address that you use on every single dating site; whether that site is free or paid. If you move the emails off the dating site and give each other your direct email addresses, this dating email is the only email address you are to share until you've been on several dates and are certain you want to reveal more of yourself. Make sure your name is not associated with this email account. There should not be a signature line. There should not be a phone number.

Save Everything. To do this, save every single email; even if you think it's just using up valuable space. Do not delete. Sometimes, the high-powered doctor surprisingly took a pay cutand got crafty turning himself into a construction site manager or line cook. Shocking (rolling eyes) but you've got it under control! Type the email address into the search box and see if you pull up an email from another time. 

Email Yourself. Out on your hot date? Great. Next bathroom run, send yourself a quick email, just some notes. Maybe something like this: "John, eHarmony, 5 ft 8, jeans, grey top, ABC tapas bar, East Village." The purpose for this is to create a digital trail, heaven forbid anything should happen. This way you have notes and they're all basically organized in one gathering spot. You presumably have photos. You've also pinged a cell phone tower by emailing yourself the information. If there should be a need to search for you, you've provided an ideal starting spot.

Share Your Password. This one seems counterintuitive... but it would be goo dot share the password to this dating only email address with one or two of your closest friends. It's not so they can snoop... it's so that there are two people who can quickly gain access to your Date-a-Base in event it seems warranted.

The Impatient Person's Guide to Getting to Know Someone

I've been asked this question a lot lately and thought it might worth revisiting here. Just how do you get to know someone more quickly? Here's a guide for the impatient. That said, remember to only date in public spaces and, as always, stay alert!

Dan McAdams, Chair of the Psychology Department at Northwestern University and author of Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Selfsays there are
three levels of intimacy. In a nutshell:

1. Traits (descriptors often found at start of a personal ad, words like: kind, smart, sexy, etc.)

2. Personal Concerns (provide contextual details that are missing from traits, like: roles, goals, skills, and values)

3. Identity (lies at the core of who we are. It’s our inner story)

Apparently, getting to know someone takes time; and lots of it. 

Luckily Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has developed a way to go from Level 1 to Level 2 in about an hour. Fast Friends, also referred to as The Sharing Game is like a grown up version of 20 questions, except there are 36 of them and you can't answer with a simple yes or no.

Many of the questions come across as personal trivia. For example: Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

Even though Aron created the questions and tested his theory of deeper knowledge with a small-talk questionnaire to be sure it was the line of questioning that allowed people to become closer, he says not to go too fast.

Despite the speedy steps above, the best way to get to know someone is gradually -- sprinkling a question here and there and probing more deeply as time rolls by.And getting from Level 2 to Level 3 takes a little more persistence.

How and Why to Create a Date-a-Base

We've all heard horror stories about online dating,
especially Craigslist. I'm continuously asked my thoughts about the site and I remain pro-Craigslist. I think it's like living in an un-gated community. People paying to live inside the community feel they're safe, which I believe is how people on paid dating websites feel. People using free dating websites or online community forums, like Craigslist, may think at times they are less safe. As someone's who has dated on both, I think safety-wise they're the same; and often times I've found it's the SAME people. Once you take the step to online date, you tend to maximize your effort and date in multiple locations.

Craigslist caters to the "I want it now" crowd,
whether it's an apartment, a part-time (albeit low-paying gig)
or a non-committal drink with a stranger, say 5-minutes from
now. It's immediate. There's no waiting for him to wink or
reply to an email. There's much less danger of becoming a pen pal.

So, here are some offbeat tips for using Craigslist:

Watch where you post and/or reply to ads. If you go to the
personals section, stick with the right category for you. It's
best to post an ad because emails come to you - you aren't
reaching out to the vast unknown.

Don't give out any personal information - including your real
email address, phone number or details that may identify you
or your precise location.

About that email address... go to yahoo or Google and
create a free email account. For heaven's sake don't put
your full name in the name field, just your initials or those
of you pet iguana will do (hint).

Share your password to this special craigslist email account
with one or two trusted friends so that someone can log in and 
see where you were supposed to meet, with whom, when and what
you were expecting to do (Drinks? Salsa lesson?).

Create your own date-a-base. Don't delete any emails - ever.
Sometimes, the high-powered doctor surprisingly took a pay cut
and got crafty turning himself into a construction site
manager or line cook. Shocking (rolling eyes) but you've got
it under control! Type the email address into the search box
and see if you pull up an email from another time. He's there
holding up his latest culinary masterpiece? OK, file this
Jekyll and Hyde in an email folder and call it "No."

Post a "control" post. When you post your ad, place one where
you're you - SWF, 33, funny, vivacious, attractive, writer
seeks to meet someone mature, well-traveled and excellent
conversationalist for a quick drink in West Village. Then post
another: 33-year-old, novelist-extraordinaire looking for dinner date in Tribeca with edgy Wall-Streeter. Give each post a different headline. See whatcha get. Don't fall off your chair when the same guys respond to both. Life - after all - is a numbers game. Just check that overall both posts identify the person generally the same way.

Upload Photos. Run photos of prospective in-person date through Google Image Search.

Clearly, always meet in a public place.

Watch the time. It's like a dyslexic tale of Cinderella but
come midnight the kooks hit the net. Post early -
keep the posting time before 10 pm or agree to meet
another day.

Don't profess your love to cyberspace. No one cares (no
offense) at this point that you're a great a cook. Keep it
simple. Drinks, 8 pm, SoHo? A few vital stats. Request
(really demand) a photo. Pick and go.

If a date offers money, that's NOT a date. Put that email
immediately into your "no way in hell" folder and move on.

Watch the lingo. Even in the romantic nooks of CL you'll get
adventurous invitations to all sorts of activities from a trip
overseas (Ha! No.) to a movie (free popcorn!) to skiing
(nooo). Skiing tends to mean cocaine. 420 is pot. The
abbreviations and clever acronyms continue. This said,
sometimes an invitation to ice skate means you put rather
prickly rented skates on your feet and slide around Wollman
Rink (let's be fair ladies).

And before you hit the road...remember, to be safe not sorry.
If it doesn't feel right, don't go. If you're already
there, excuse yourself. It won't be the first time
(or the last) some guy gets stuck with the check.

Bristol Palin should have InvestiDated

Bristol Palin, the daughter of former Vice Presidential hopeful Sarah Palin, was supposed to marry her fiancé, U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer, over Memorial Day weekend but the plans came to an abrupt halt.
The Daily Mail is reporting that Dakota had a ‘secret wife,’ whom he married in 2008 when he was just 19… (and allegedly divorced two years later). The rub comes over Bristol seemingly unaware about the whole thing. Bristol acknowledged the wedding was off on her blog but didn’t go into any other detail.
Dakota was born and raised in Kentucky, according to his Wikipedia page. If indeed the rumors are true and Bristol didn’t know he’d been previously married, a quick and check of some Kentucky papers would have opened the door to a conversation on this teeny tiny factoid much sooner.
I’ve never been to Kentucky but a quick online visit to Taylor County Clerk’s office pulled up Dakota’s marriage license under the DocSearch feature. See for yourself. Go here, click on DocSearch along the top, then in the first two slots where you may search by name put in Meyer for last name, Dakota for first name; then click “search name” and scroll to the bottom entry. Easy, right? And FREE.

Before you tie the knot, it’s important to do your homework. Keep reading for more tips on how to investigate your date.

'Blizzard Buddies' are a bad idea

If you know me or if you've taken one of my InvestiDate workshops, you know that I'm no prude. Despite Craigslist's rep, I've remained pro-Craigslist, reminding daters that it's really no safer or less safe than any other dating site. In fact, at least with Craigslist there's an alarm in one's head to proceed with caution, which I like because there's no guise of safety clouding one's perspective. So, why would people flock to post ads or respond to ads this week seeking Blizzard Buddies? Does that seem like a good idea? Seriously?

Meeting someone at a local pub, in a private place, during a snow storm sounds fun; even a little romantic. Inviting a stranger to your home is plain nuts; particularly when you may not be able to physically remove yourself from the situation.

People put their best foot forward when dating. No one tells you "Well, I was thinking I'd roofie your drink while we watch 'It's a Wonderful Life,' have my way with you while you're zonked out, then help myself to your wallet before I trudge through the snow to an undisclosed location." And honestly - that could be one of the better scenarios.

Yes, it's also possible that this person is just a kindred and adventurous spirit, like you, looking for some company on a snowy night. It's more likely you're inviting trouble.

So post your Craigslist ads on a non-blizzard night (be sure to use your Date-a-Base), meet in public, give time time, and hopefully by the next snow blizzard you'll have someone near and dear to snuggle up with by the fire.

Check out this article I was mentioned in about this very topic.

Beware of the latest sext scam

Imagine this: you (for some ungodly reason) send a sexually explicit photo to someone you met online who then tells you they’re underage but you can avoid being arrested if you pay a fine by money order or Western Union. Now what?
Online daters in Florida are experiencing a new sext scam that’s surely left a lot of them a very ghostly white.
Business Insider is reporting that this week, the Broward Sheriff's Office said scammers are infiltrating, a site that allows users to meet and chat. Apparently, the scammers first pose as daters and ultimately coax users into sending sexually explicit pictures. Then – surprise – they claim to be a Broward Sheriff's deputy on a search for child predators. As if that weren’t enough, then they tell you your sext was sent to a minor and if you want to avoid being arrested, you’ll pay a fine via money order or Western Union.
More than 100 people have fallen for the scam since March, paying anywhere between $500 to $1,500 to avoid being "arrested."
Other online dating services have also run into similar woes. Hookup app Tinder has been suffering from fake prostitutes and spam bots, according to Symantec, an online security company.
So, what can you do?

  • Well, first you could not send a sexually explicit photo of yourself to a total stranger (duh)
  • You could dickorate (just kidding)
  • You could not wire money and not get a cash advance to pay a “deputy”
  • If you absolutely must send a naked pic of your oh so fabulous self, and you know the recipient is of a consenting age, you could use snapchat so that after a few seconds the picture disappears, deletes (and in theory is gone forever)

Check out this FOX 4 News Clip on the scam:

Need to guess someone's age? No problem.

Want to know how many candles your date should really have on their birthday cake? It's pretty easy.

There used to a website called that would just tell you. Then that content got watered down, seemingly overnight. But if you type in you still arrive at a useful page with some free content. Try it.

Go to and type in your first name, last name, city and state. You probably come up with your age, among other people with the same name.

If you're still not sure, try the free address search feature over at When it pulls up people with a particular name by city and state, it'll list their age too.

Woman loses $100K in online dating scam

A woman in Canada went into debt to send her date (whom she'd never met) $100,000.

Pat Leary of Victoria is hoping her story will help others to date, well, more smartly. Back in January, Pat met a man who called himself Fredrik. The two spent months exchanging several dozens of emails and talking by phone.

“I put my heart out there and I trusted,” Leary told CTV News in Vancouver. “I just wholeheartedly believed in the love he said he had for me and I was reciprocating it.”

Leary fell hard for Frederik but the two were never able to meet because he was allegedly working overseas on a project. Frederik, a con artist, claimed to be a Vancouver engineer. After months of courting, he said he loved her and asked Leary for a loan so he could complete his work and return home to finally meet her. Leary then went into debt to send him $100,000; though she says she lost much more than just the money.

So, what can you do to avoid a similar fate?

  • Don't send money - ever; PS you are not an ATM
  • Be wary of anyone who says they are working overseas and cannot meet
  • Always meet in a public place after a few emails have been exchanged; this isn't the Victorian Era no need to pen (OK, type) letters back and forth
  • Use Google Image Search to check if your date's picture pops up elsewhere and if it does, check why

Craigslist killer allegedly a serial murderer

In an interview in The Daily Item, Barbour says she wants to plead guilty to the November (2013) killing of Troy LaFerrara. She also said that she's killed nearly two dozen others from Alaska to North Carolina in the last six years as part of her involvement in a satanic cult. 

Police and FBI are looking into the matter. 

If you're using Craigslist to find dates, remember to:

Can't say it enough -- you are your own bodyguard! 

More details on Barbour in the CNN video below.

FBI warns daters of online dating scams

The FBI just issued a press release warning daters to beware of online dating scams but what does it all mean? 

While there are many stories warning daters about scams and many more about people who’ve been the victims of scams, there doesn’t seem to be much information on what daters can actually do; until now.
Aside from steering clear of suitors proclaiming instant love and those requesting money to cover a sudden emergency, daters should arm themselves with information by using these FREE resources:
Spydial It: Go to, to check if your date sounds in the age range s/he says s/he’s in. If you want to date someone 15-years older than you, that’s cool. But if you don’t, check if s/he’s lying by typing in his or her cell phone number at You’ll instantly dial into his/her outgoing voicemail message and hear their voice.
Revise Records: If s/he pops up on or that’s not a good sign; you’ll find registered sex offenders there. If you’re unsure of his or her name, search by zip code and click, click, click to see if the photos match the sweet talker.
Verify his Photo: Too good-looking to be true? Maybe. Find out by running the image across Google image search to see where else his or her image may appear. There’s a chance it’s a fake profile (hey, one in ten online dating profiles are fake) or a real photo… of someone else.
Create a Date-a-Base: You know, a database of all your dates. To do this, create a free email account that you use just for dating. Make sure you’re name’s not on it, there’s no signature line and no identifying factors. Use this account for all your emails. Delete nothing. Then share the password with two trusted friends. Should something go amiss there are two friends who know where to begin their search for you.