MODERN dating can be tricky, with more singles hoping to meet the person of their dreams through a screen.
Recent studies have found that relationships started through apps or websites are more unstable than those that begin in real life.
But if you are looking for love, fear not – The Sun’s Dear Deidre agony aunt is here to help.
From online scams to consensual non-monogamy for “monogamish” couples, Sally Land shares her inbox of readers’ dilemmas to give her advice on the challenges of modern romances.
I’ll give up dating apps after being catfished
DEAR DEIDRE: AT the grand old age of 27 I’m seriously considering throwing in the towel when it comes to finding love.
I’ve had two years of total dating disasters.
I’ve been catfished, stood up, breadcrumbed and ghosted more times than I can count.
But the immediate questions of whether I “do anal” or “threesomes” have really made me question if I’ll ever find love.
The latest guy I was seeing seemed great but the first time we had sex he put his hands around my throat and started choking me.
I was so shocked but he dismissed me, claiming that “all the girls love it”.
Will I ever manage to find a decent guy?
DEIDRE SAYS: Online dating can be disheartening.
The seemingly endless supply of options can make people treat others like commodities.
I definitely recommend taking a step away from dating apps for a decent spell.
Allow yourself to re-calibrate.
Ghosting is pure cowardice and everyone deserves at least one text drawing a line under future meetings.
Breadcrumbing is about keeping options open for those people unable to commit.
And as for the choking, any man who doesn’t understand consent in its true form is not worth another thought.
Join some clubs, take up new interests and make new friends.
Try to take the focus away from finding love as it’s through new genuine connections and friendship that romance often grows.
I agreed we would both play away…but she’s falling for her pal
DEAR DEIDRE: MY mates think I am the luckiest man in the world because I’m in a monogamish relationship with my girlfriend.
To begin, I’ll admit being monogamish was a lot of fun — but lately I’ve been struggling with jealousy.
We have been together for five years. I’m 34 and she’s 35.
We’ve always been adventurous sexually and I know she had female relationships before me.
One night we had a bit to drink and I asked her about her fantasies.
She said she wanted to have sex with other women again.
I misunderstood and thought she meant in a threesome.
I was getting pretty turned on but then she clarified and said, “No, not with you there — on my own.”
I was hurt but didn’t want to let on, especially as I’d been so enthusiastic moments earlier.
A couple of months later she brought it up again and asked if I’d like to try being monogamish.
She sold it as either of us being able to play away while enjoying the security of our relationship.
I admitted I was worried one of us would fall for someone else, but she said it was purely about the sex and fun.
She liked the idea of recounting our sexual adventures together afterwards and I could see how that would be a big turn-on.
So we set some ground rules – no sleeping over with the other partner, a five-date maximum per partner and as soon as emotions came into play we’d regroup.
I’ve had two one-night stands with two different women I’d always fancied.
And I loved the fact I could enjoy them, then go back to my girlfriend guilt-free.
My girlfriend has also had sex with two women since we agreed to open up our relationship, but one of the women has become more regular.
As far as I know they have slept together five times, but the way she talks about her concerns me.
I think my worst fears are coming true and she is starting to have feelings for this other woman.
Am I simply being jealous?
DEIDRE SAYS: There are couples who do manage to make open relationships work, but the stakes are high and I certainly hear from plenty of people who regret ever venturing into this world.
To give the arrangement the best chance of working, the couple need to set clear boundaries, have high levels of trust and be good communicators – but even then there is no guarantee things will work out.
By allowing intimacy outside any relationship, you run the risk that emotions will come into play.
So jealousy, love, paranoia or infatuation can all come rushing in.
Talk to your girlfriend.
This is the good communication bit that you need to develop.
Ask what is going on for her and let her know how insecure you feel.
If she can’t reassure you, I’d strongly advise pausing this agreement so you can work out what you both want.
Talking to a sex and relationship counsellor would also help you both.
The College Of Sexual And Relationship Therapists (cosrt.org.uk) can help you find a reputable practitioner.
Blackmail threat after sending my naked pics
DEAR DEIDRE: I AM a senior manager, dad-of-two, keen marathon runner — and now I can add “mug” to my description.
As a 48-year-old divorced man, feeling lonely, I recently joined a running group on Facebook.
It was great talking to other enthusiasts and comparing running tips.
I was delighted when one woman from Austria and I really hit it off.
We started messaging daily and soon moved to video calls.
When she asked me to send some naked shots, I agreed — as long as she did the same.
Then the tone of the messages changed completely.
She told me unless I sent her £400 she would send my images to my employer and accuse me of harassing her.
I have sent the money but now she is demanding more.
I can’t believe I was so stupid. What can I do?
DEIDRE SAYS: Don’t send any more money.
Blackmail is illegal, as is sharing or threatening to share private sexual images without consent.
Seek support from the Revenge Porn Helpline (revengepornhelpline.org.uk, 0345 6000 459).
They will be able to explain exactly where you stand.
Keep a note of any contact and information because you may need it in the future.
These scammers deliberately target people who are lonely.
You thought you’d met a potential partner so try not to be too harsh on yourself.