Online dating. Is it safe to put up a profile? Should you try it? Does the Manti Te'o hoax sound farfetched or real to you? Is it a perilous landscape or can you truly find love on the Internet on one of the many popular online dating sites?
All of these questions and more are asked by millions of singles who look for love online every day.
As the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online, I revealed some personal stories that went back almost 18 years. The book title was actually inspired by a real life Catfish story, which I shared with FOX News on Good Day LA. In short, a married man pretended to be single using someone else's photos and promised marriage to multiple women around the country.
Along with the handful of Catfish stories, there were also some that were very heartfelt and were fairy-tale romances with wonderful endings. Such is the landscape of digital dating.
I'm a big believer that online dating does work, but where we draw the line between exaggerating about weight, age and height is different from complete misrepresentation, such as in the Manti Te'o story. If you want to be successful with online dating, you need to be authentic and genuine.
The need to love and be loved is so universal. It goes back to cave-men days. So does the occasional duping of another in romantic affairs of the heart, according to the Boston Globe.
Is online dating perilous? No more than walking into a bar and meeting a stranger. Find the time to meet your online date in person before becoming emotionally involved. Move your relationship from online to offline so you don't become a digital pen pal.
Let the Manti Te'o story be a gentle reminder to do your homework before your heart gets carried away.
At the end of the digital day, online dating is a numbers game. You need to play to win, but never lose sight of trusting your own intuition.
Wishing you much love and joy in cyberspace, or wherever you may roam.
Julie Spira is a top online dating expert and bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating. She creates irresistible profiles for singles on the dating scene. For more online dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and like her at Facebook.com/CyberDatingExpert.