FORT WORTH, Texas, March 1, 2018: Ah, the wonders of online dating. 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, beautiful people who have found their soul mates through 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.
With online dating, 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 online dating commercials will have you believe that in no time at all Mr. /Ms Right will be all yours. Could this be true? What do they say about safety or background checks?
After all, the clients are adults and take responsibility for themselves, right? Oh, there are safety tips and advice on these sites but they are relegated to small print at the bottom of the first page or sometimes deeper in the site. Either way, one has to hunt for them.
There are con artists, control freaks and just plain evil people out there too. But they look just like you and me.
The amount of online dating 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 you’ve never met face to face. How long does it take to regard them as close personal friends? Now imagine putting the same people together in a room together while they are still strangers. How long would it take to achieve the same level of intimacy?
If your answer is “Not long,” just remember how you feel standing in an elevator full of strangers or queuing up in in a long line at your grocery store’s checkout aisle. In all likelihood most folks you meet there are decent people. But there are also con artists, control freaks and just plain evil people among them on occasion and they look just like you and me. It seems easy to forget that when you don’t have to look someone in the eye.
Mary Kay Beckman certainly didn’t expect Wade Ridley, her date through Match.com, to stab her and nearly stomp her to death.
ChristianMingle.com has experienced problems as well. Two women who dated Navy Lt. Sean Banks through the site later accused him of rape. Banks went to trial in 2014, pleading not guilty to rape by force, residential burglary and digital penetration by force. He 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 handed him close to the maximum available prison sentence and denied him probation as well.
Unfortunately there are likely many more cases like these that go unreported.
Why does this happen? Some blame loneliness as a factor in letting their guard down. Others cite desperation. Still others still have never learned to pay attention to their little “red flags” that wave around in all our brains when something is not right.
Even if those warning flags are noticed says Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. in her Psychology Today article, “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.”
In online dating, it is easy to ignore healthy boundaries when you don’t have to look someone in the eye.
Another reason that customers of online dating sites are prone to error is they’re either in a hurry or excitedly letting the relationship develop too fast. That’s been a personal issue for me. A long time ago, I almost married a guy who turned out to be really, really, really bad news.
At the time this situation occurred, I was lonely. I hadn’t had a date in a couple of years, didn’t have the best self-esteem in the world and my red flags, while waving, weren’t obvious to me yet. There were conspicuous warning signals in this individual’s behavior that I simply overlooked, signs so obvious that for me to have ignored them was, in hindsight, a serious error that was way 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.
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 ~ Dr. Susan Biali, M.D.
In addition to the safety issues we all need to consider in online dating, we should acknowledge there are people out there that are just plain disturbing individuals. If you want to read about them, do a Google search on “Internet Dating Nightmares.” These various collections of online dating emails are inevitably creepy and disgusting.
Here’s a sample:
“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 target’s 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?”
Or how about this entry?
I had an online dating app for exactly one day because the first person to message me sent me a long, detailed, emotional message asking for permission to masturbate onto my socks.
Or this scary one?
I went out with a guy from MeetMe. Things were going really well, and he eventually almost moved in with me and my family. Then I caught him looking down my 12-year-old daughter’s shirt. I broke up with him and didn’t blink twice. Recently found out he is awaiting a hearing for a sexual attack on a child under 12. I dodged a bullet and will never trust dating online again.
In online dating, one can’t be too careful. Safety is an absolute must.
The reply to the initial email above is priceless. The respondent probably possesses the appropriate mindset one should have when exploring internet dating. One can’t be too careful these days. Safety is an absolute must. Unfortunately some people don’t pay attention to the human survival instinct that tells them something is wrong with a given person or situation.
Before embarking on a quest for love via the internet, use cyber space to research the who, what, when, where, and why of online dating.
Guidance is available in Discovery Health’s Cyber Relationships: The Risks and Rewards of Online Dating by Coulson Duerksen; and Hubpages’ How to Spot Online Dating Cons and Scams and How to Avoid Them by Marcy Goodefleisch. 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 for attracting the right kind of person.