Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - DEAR COLEEN -

Dear Coleen

My daugh­ter, who is 21, keeps meet­ing up with dif­fer­ent lads she’s met on in­ter­net dat­ing sites. Some of th­ese men she meets just once, oth­ers she’ll see two or three times and then if they don’t want to meet again she’ll ar­range to see some­one else. I’m start­ing to get wor­ried about her. She thinks this be­hav­iour is nor­mal and tells me ev­ery­one dates like this now and that things have changed since my day. What’s the best way to tackle this as I feel as if I’m mak­ing things worse and could end up fall­ing out with her over it?

Coleen says

Your daugh­ter is right – things have changed mas­sively since we were in the dat­ing pool and the re­lated apps and web­sites are big busi­ness. The im­por­tant thing is that she’s us­ing th­ese sites safely and, as her mum, I’m sure that’s your main con­cern. The Suzy Lam­plugh Trust rec­om­mends that on­line daters only com­mu­ni­cate with po­ten­tial dates via the site and not through so­cial me­dia or per­sonal email. It also sug­gests telling a friend where you’re go­ing on a date and check­ing in with them be­fore and af­ter­wards, and re­port­ing any of­fen­sive or sus­pi­cious be­hav­iour to the dat­ing site. Your daugh­ter prob­a­bly knows this, but say you’re bring­ing it up only be­cause you love her and want her to be safe. I know as a par­ent you just want your child to meet ‘the one’ and have a nice bor­ing, set­tled re­la­tion­ship. But most young peo­ple go through a lot of dates be­fore this hap­pens, whether they meet them on­line or not. In some ways, get­ting to know some­one a lit­tle first on­line is a more sen­si­ble way to con­nect rather than go­ing out club­bing and leav­ing with a guy you’ve only just met that night.

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