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TAKE a good look at your friend. In person, face to face. Then take a look at your friend on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Do the two pictures match up?

If they’re actually human, chances are that your pal’s online profile is different in some key ways to their in person real self. Given two minutes warning of someone coming over, most of us will clear our crap out of the lounge room. We want to make a decent impression. Pretend we’re always tidy.

And online, the opportunities for a little profile tidying are endless. This is not news to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock since the 90s. The problem is, if you’re trying to find love, all the airbrushing of your real, messy self might help you find people who are happy to visit, but it’s not going to help you find someone who wants to stay the distance. If you want to find real love online, it’s time to stop treating yourself like an AirBnb.

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IF YOU found your partner’s name on the Ashley Madison leak this week, it’s natural that you’ll be asking some serious questions.

If it turns out that yes, your partner was using the website to actively have an affair (and this won’t be the case for many), you’ll then be asking yourself: Should I stay with a cheater?

For both members of the couples affected, their struggles will be marked by an increased risk of all kinds of terrible behaviour as they grapple with the shock, hurt and humiliation of public shaming and possible betrayal. The Ashley Madison hackwill have some terrible consequences for those named and their partners and experts have speculated that we can expect not only separations, but also suicides. This is just not a moral issue and not just a privacy issue; it’s also a public health issue.

Public humiliation pushes the shame button for all of us and shame drives us to either retreat or attack to protect ourselves, so for the couples dealing with this hacking fallout the repair work is going to be extra hard.

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IT’S easy to think it will never happen to you.

But one in three women will experience violence from a man they know. And if you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship, you’ll know it doesn’t start out that way. It can feel as if you never saw it coming, or that when you began to see what was happening, it felt too late, too hard or too embarrassing to try to get out.

The big waving red flags are easy to spot, but by the time those flags are flying it’s much more difficult and dangerous to find your way to the door.

So if you’re just beginning a relationship, here are some warning signs you can spot early enough to make a quick exit.

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