How to find love on social networks

Many, many couples have met each other, fallen in love and are happy-ever-after on various forms of social media. But is this always the case? Unfortunately not.

Social media is not a dating site; there are plenty of those around, with all the software available to match random people by ways of their interests and desires.

However, with so many lost and lonely individuals all over social media, pitfalls do occur, often to the detriment of the platform.

Problem number one is that not everyone tells the truth about their character, or posts their own photos. Most people do, but the unscrupulous are very active. We all have strange people trying to contact us on Skype, Facebook and by email. Scams are not a new thing.

Paradoxically, there are plenty of honest folk out there. If you are single and alone, meeting new friends is easy enough. Most of your current contacts inadvertently open up their own colleagues and acquaintances to you every day, simply by sharing posts. Finding a common thread in their comments can be a foundation to build a genuine friendship through. At a guess, it can be assumed that we've all done it.

Ask the right questions before you decide that this is the love of your life. Chat online via Skype or WhatsApp video, and you will soon find out if their photo matches their appearance, or whether conversation comes easily.

Physically meeting with them may be a problem. The world is but a village when it comes to social media, but it's not that simple in real life. Your potential life partner may be the other side of the globe from you, so delve into his/her personality by asking pertinent questions about religion, culture and other essential qualities. Don't be conned by an ax murderer or scammer. Be smart and keep digging until you decide it is time to meet this person. Does your new soul mate bring out your best qualities? Do you have interests in common? Are your politics diametrically opposite? The questions are endless, but wrong answers or lies could end up as an expensive way to end the friendship.

No-one chooses to fall in love, it just happens and it's hard then to be objective. Look out for red danger flags from the beginning of the relationship.

If they are not prepared to chat via a video link, that's a potential problem. A relationship cannot be conducted successfully by text messages, or Facebook Messenger.

If you are asked for money, then consider the relationship over. There is a very high risk that this is a scam.

Follow your instincts. It may be difficult to ask a friend for help, many people have serious doubts about online love affairs and would be more than happy to change your mind, so be as open-minded as possible, and don't be taken advantage of.

Find out if you have any friends or acquaintances in common. Something must have led to you befriending this person on social media. If you smell a rat, then ask for honest appraisals of this person. Or just do it anyway, as a matter of course.

Social media seems to be an ideal way to meet and even fall in love over the Internet. Statistics say that over 120 000 marriages per year are through relationships started on these platforms. So it is definitely possible.

However, a proper dating site will ask you all the right questions before matching you with a seemingly similar partner. Social media doesn't do this, so it's all up to you. Become an online stalker and check out the background of this stranger. Take extra measures in order to safeguard yourself and your emotions, and use your common sense. If something smells fishy it usually is. And breakups can become nasty over the networks.

And you must be honest as well. Don't lead anyone on if you are truly not interested. If it looks like someone would like to take the relationship further, don't encourage them if you are going to hurt them. Remember, these are real people.

Facebook now has a feature called Graph Search can be used to find other single people, by searching within your parameters. For instance, it could be ‘single friends of my friends living in the same, or a different area'.

Tinder is another social site used mainly to meet people. It is simple inasmuch as you only have to swipe left or right to answer questions. They claim that swiping is both emotional and rational. But in all fairness, it's generally about the appeal of the photos that are posted, and that is 100% emotion.

So yes, it is totally possible to fall in love over social media, if you are careful and are able to judge without being swept along with rampant emotions. And that's the hard part.