You’ve just clicked the last box in the long list of procedures to join XYZ online dating service, confident that everything you put in your profile was exactly as you wanted. You double checked, didn’t you?
Oops, you accidentally left in some key information that will make you readily identifiable to all your friends, family and co-workers. Now everybody will know about your absolute sheer desperation to find a partner.
Or worse! You put on your profile a photograph of yourself, half-plastered with alcohol at the last Christmas party, lipstick smeared across your cheeks (I haven’t mentioned any gender here, so whatever pictures you have in your mind are entirely your input).
So, you see. This is a potential minefield…and we haven’t even been out on our first date yet, have we?
But don’t despair or feel that the cat is out of the bag. You can always go back to the profile and change the details/remove the photos/delete your entire account if you are scared enough.
But let’s be serious here for a moment. In the following paragraphs I’m going to go through the three most apparent “dangers” of Internet dating.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I will put this horrible creature at the top of the list. We have all heard the horrifying stories that have often ended in tragedy. Even murder. Quite often these terrible events have come after encounters on the more “adult-oriented” sites. Perhaps a threesome has become a deadly game filled with jealousy and hatred, after what seemed to be such a cool idea at the time.
Even on a more mundane level, there are nutters out there who have harassed poor women (and men) to the point of psychological breakdown. Yep, it happens.
But, there are ways to avoid this. These guidelines, by no means a definitive list, are especially relevant for women and may help you in a tricky situation.
- Never put direct contact details in a profile. Most dating sites will not allow this anyway, as long as their screening procedures are up to standard.
- Make sure your first meetings are in well-patronized areas, like a food-court in a shopping mall, or some other busy place. That way, if the man/woman turns out to be less than what you hoped for, you can blend into the crowd before slipping away.
- If you feel nervous, take along someone you know and trust well and have them observe you from a distance. You won’t believe how much more confident this makes some women feel.
- Don’t give your phone number to your new online friend until you feel it is safe to do so. When is this? Certainly not after date number one.
- This may sound drastic, but keep some form of protection (in addition to condoms!) in your handbag (mace, capsicum spray, a very loud alarm device) in case you find yourself alone and in an intimidating environment. In the same vein, go and get some self-defense lessons – it will keep you fit and desirable as well as give you valuable knowledge about groin attacks and the like!
The Don Juan Crook
These are men, nine times out of ten, and there are more and more stories of these guys emerging every day.
This is where a super-charmer convinces their new date/partner that they are world-famous, super successful and know all the celebrities. For some reason or other, all their funds are tied up in something, and they cannot get their hands on ready cash for day-to-day living, or for some other “sure-fire” investment.
Before you know it. Mr or Mrs Gullible Internet Dater have handed over their bank account details, credit cards, or even packed the rolls of cash into the suitcase before driving Don Juan to the airport and kissing him good-bye as he boards the plane for Rio!
How do you avoid these crooks? It can be difficult for lonely folks, especially widows and widowers (beware the female black spider!), so the best advice here is to enlist a friend or two to give you an absolutely candid appraisal of your new-found Prince/Princess Charming.
The Dishonest Dating Site with Fake Members
This problem had a bit of press in Australia recently. I won’t name the actual site, but the owners were punished by the courts and made to apologize to their members.
Sadly, it can be hard to spot the fake profiles, sometimes answering you via sophisticated software programs, or even by real people paid to pretend they are someone else (backpackers in Australia, for instance).
If you aren’t careful, these pseudo-daters can waste a lot of your valuable time and money.
The best way to avoid being scammed in this way is to ask specific questions that only a real person would know the answers to. For example, ask about current events in your local area. If they can’t or won’t answer, you might be dealing with a robot!
However, in my opinion, Internet dating is a great option in today’s fast-paced world. People are time poor, and lack the freedom to socialize they way it used to be in the “good old days’.
Online daters just need to be alert to the potential dangers, and take the appropriate steps to minimize the damage.