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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Are online dating sites like Match.com dangerous or totally harmless?

I have a couple of single friends who have tried online dating sites like Match.com, and their experiences run the gamut from total disaster dates to meeting guys who were actually very nice and fun to be with. I was recently reading a newspaper article about some of the nightmares that have occurred when people ranging from fairly harmless tricksters to dangerous predators use online dating sites as a vehicle to reach and target innocent people.

For example, one guy on Match.com was conning women by pretending to be a doctor or a federal agent or even an army reservist defending our country. In reality, he was a college student who lured women out on dates with him so that he could drug and rape them. He now faces plenty of prison time for his crimes.

However after that story we're still left with the big question of "how do you know the guy is for real" when you're staring at a profile page like the one above of "flyguy" on Match.com. (By the way, Match.com profiles are public domain, so keep in mind that when you create a profile on a dating site, anyone can link to it, like to this guy's profile.) So this "flyguy" says he's an "outgoing romantic divorced man," but how do you really know he is what he says he is? Is he really "outgoing" or actually a lazy-ass couch potato with one friend? And what does "flyguy" mean by "romantic" exactly? Does his idea of being romantic mean taking you out for a nice dinner and then calling you a f*cking b*tch when you won't eat ice cream with him for dessert? And when he says that he doesn't let his traveling get in the way of "spending quality time with that special woman who happens to be in his life," doesn't he really mean "women," because you just don't know if he might be the kind of flyguy to play around. Hmm... And he says he's divorced, but how do you know if "flyguy" ever, say, abused his wife? You just don't know....

Apparently in recent years men have become bolder about targeting their victims on dating sites. A survey research study conducted by Boston University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 reported that about 20 percent of online daters admit they lie about themselves online. Some say that the statistic has grown much larger since that study. There certainly are a lot more online daters than there were four years ago. I can only imagine that the number of liars has increased as well.

A much more recent study that came out just last month at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association brought in a lot of interesting information about online dating and its idiosyncrasies. There are definite trends when it comes to lying. People tend to add inches to their height and tens of thousands of dollars to their salaries. They probably add hair to their head. And college degrees to their credentials too....

So, again, if you decide to try online dating, how do you know what you're getting into? How can you tell an honest guy from a liar? A smooth-talking, winking federal agent from an Army reservist? A degreed professional from a sexting creep? A "flyguy" from a guy who has his feet firmly planted on the ground? Hmm. Well, it's really impossible to know. But what you can do is be smart and very, very careful. For one thing, remember that in the media you occasionally read and hear about various cases where women have been victimized by sociopaths and other demented sickos after meeting them online. Don't simply assume this couldn't happen to you. It can. And can it ever.

So the precautions you can take? I would consider the following:

- Meet your date in a public place. Very public.
- Schedule your initial date to be structured, say for exactly an hour or whatever you're comfortable with. But be clear that you have another commitment afterwards so that you're not stuck with him stringing you along and eating up your valuable time. (Don't let him be in control.)
- Assume that his online profile is a lie. Ask questions even if he answered them already on his profile. See how he answers them in person.
- Above all, trust your instincts. If you sense the slightest red flag, go with your gut feelings. Do NOT give him the benefit of the doubt in any respect. You do not have to be nice. Read through the charm. Remember that sociopaths are the most charming ones of all.
- And, if you decide to see him again, go s-l-o-w-l-y with your relationship.

I'm sure there are lots more safe online dating tips out there - this is just a start. At the very least it may help you steer towards caution as you shop the online dating sites.

Good luck, ladies!!


  1. Some additional helpful tips.

    1. Google can provide potentially helpful information on people.
    2. Make sure a friend knows where you are and who you are with and DO NOT change locations and neglect to update your friend.
    3. Have a friend call 15-20 minutes into the date so you have an excuse to leave easily if needed.
    4 Do a case search for arrest records in the city or county the person claims to live in and/or comes from.
    5. If you are ordering food or drinks make sure you order and receive your order directy from your server, not from your date.

    Be safe!

  2. I love this!!! Thanks so much, Anon, for stopping by and taking the time to add to my list. This is awesome stuff that I'm sure many women will find helpful. In fact, I'm going to write it up in a new post.... :)

    Warmest regards,

  3. This is great advice.

  4. This can be a really well thought out post. I certainly enjoyed reading it. Thanks