With Valentine's Day just around the corner, love is in the air. Common sense and your instincts are your number one guard against predators - in person or online.
FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 9, 2016—Madison Avenue has done a great job of convincing people that love is just a few keystrokes away. It all looks so easy. TV commercials show happy and beautiful people who have found their soul mates as a result of an online dating service. The background music is joyful and upbeat. Adoring couples smile at the camera all the while hugging, kissing and finally delighting in life now that they’ve found the right person.
All you’ve got to do is choose an internet dating site and sign up – usually for a fee of anywhere from $0 to $60 per month. The commercials will have you believe that in no time at all Mr./Ms Right will be all yours. Could this be true?
And none of them overtly says anything about safety or background checks in their advertising either.
Yet the amount of time spent earning trust and getting to know a new person online seems to be much shorter than in real life. Think about it. On Facebook, how long does it take to get close to people never met face to face and to consider them close personal friends? Now put the same people together in a room together while still strangers. How long would it take to achieve the same level of intimacy?
If you think not long, just remember how you feel when in an elevator full of strangers or standing in line at the grocery store. In all likelihood most folks you meet are decent people. But there are con artists, control freaks and just plain evil people out there too, and they look just like you and me. Somehow it seems easy to forget that when you don’t have to look someone in the eye.
Mary Kay Beckman certainly didn’t expect her date through Match.com, Wade Ridley to stab and nearly stomp her to death. ChristianMingle.com has had problems as well. One of its subscribers, Navy Lt. Sean Banks, was convicted of the rapes of two women in June 2014. He pled not guilty to rape by force, residential burglary and digital penetration by force and told the women in court, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”This didn’t sit well with Judge Daniel Goldstein, who gave him the high end of the sentencing range and denied him probation.
It’s likely there are many more cases that go unreported as well.
Why does this happen? Some blame loneliness—others, desperation. Yet others still have never learned to pay attention to their little “red flags” that wave around in our brains when something is not right. And even if they are noticed, Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. says in her article for Psychology Today, “Relationship Red Flags – Are You Ignoring Them?”: “Usually, our problem isn’t whether or not we see the red flags….It’s what we or our psyche decide to do with this information that matters most.”
Another reason is being in a hurry or letting the relationship develop too fast. That’s a personal one for me having, a long time ago, almost married a guy who was really, really bad news.
At the time I was lonely—hadn’t had a date in a couple of years, didn’t have the best self-esteem and my red flags weren’t obvious to me yet. There were conspicuous warning signals in his behavior that I overlooked; signs so obvious that for me to have ignored them was, in hindsight, off the Stupid Chart. I won’t go into the gory details here but am very grateful to this day that I chose to take another path.
In addition to the safety issues, there are people out there that are just plain creepy. Online Dating Nightmares is a collection of online dating emails that either creep you out or just plain disgust the reader.
Here’s a sample:
“hi, im here looking for my bride, can u be the one??
If yes, please do reply.
“Well, you seem kind of cool…..but before I let you into my social circle, please answer the following questions:
- can you cook?
- are you rich?
- are you adventurous?
The reply to Hans:
“Hi Hans, thanks for considering letting me into your social circle. What a gentleman. Before I never accept, let me ask you 3 questions:
- Have you always been a douche, or just recently?
- Does sexist, piggish language come naturally to you, or did you learn it?
- How many ladies are you picking up with those fab lines?”
The reply to the second email is priceless. And that is probably the mindset one should have while exploring internet dating. One can’t be too careful. Safety is an absolute must.
Take a look at the link. While laughing hysterically at some of the emails like the above, keep a paper bag to breathe into in case you hyperventilate from cracking up.
All kidding aside, here are a few websites that will help one navigate the online dating world: Discovery Health’s Cyber Relationships: The Risks and Rewards of Online Dating by Coulson Duerksen; Hubpages’ How to Spot Online Dating Cons and Scams and How to Avoid Them by Marcy Goodefleisch and Laurie Davis, Founder of eFlirtExpert.com lists Top Five Mistakes to Avoid in Online Dating as a guest blogger for MSNBC.
We all want and need love. It’s only natural. Yet we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives. If you expect to be protected a certain way, don’t count on a website to do it. Take responsibility for your own life. That, in and of itself, is a great beginning to attracting the right kind of person.
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