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Online Dating: Protect Yourself

by Jon Hosier (writer), Jacksonville, FL, September 01, 2010

Credit: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

Finding love is exciting. Finding it online can be really easy. Finding trouble is easy too.

So many more people are using online dating site to meet prospective partners. The sites have all but lost their “geeky” label they used to carry. Last year 17% of couples who were married met on a dating site [1]. The number of people using these sites is showing no sign of slowing down either. The nation’s online dating industry is booming, with its number of users approaching 40 million despite the recession. The industry itself generates $1.175 billion a year [2].

Why We Use Them

There is no doubt that these services work. They are convenient, they are nonintrusive, they are accurate, and they offer an environment where traditional social awkwardness can be circumvented. It’s no wonder 1 in 5 singles are currently in a committed relationship with someone they met on a dating site. The success rate for these online dating users is also quite surprising. In the last year, there were more than twice as many marriages that occurred between people who met on an online dating site than those who met in bars, at clubs and other social events combined [3]. If you can’t meet from work, school, or through a friend or family member, online dating has the next best success rate.

The whole rejection thing stings a bit less with online dating too. It’s a numbers game. You can, for the sake of argument, look at 25 profiles. You can attempt to instigate exchanges with 10 of these. You will probably hear back from 5 or so. Of that number maybe two will strike your fancy. Numbers game. The uncertainty that would usually permeate a chance meeting, doesn’t affect first impressions online. In fact, you can peruse profiles and find glean interests and morals that are as important to you as you want them to be with your partner.

The selection process these online dating sites provide makes it much easier to connect over something. You can learn what is important to someone at a glance and with a few back-and-forth’s. Otherwise it’s out to the frozen food section of the grocery store or a local watering hole to find Mrs. /Mr. Right. Here you have to go on body language, a short awkward conversation and looks alone. It’s a little haphazard.

Web 2.0 Creeps & Gold diggers

Using an online dating site is not without dangers. Scam artists and sex offenders claim these online communities as their territory too.

Sex Offenders

Most users of online dating sites assume the service provider does a thorough background check. Many times, this is not the case. One site admitted to rejecting 5% of applicants for criminal records and 4% more were turned away because they were married. The threat gets worse. It is a very simple loophole and is used by criminals, sex offenders, and “online vultures” alike. The perpetrator can change 1 letter in their name or one number in their date of birth or social security number and be allowed onto the site to explore and interact at will. This is not the fault of the dating site. Responsibility to ensure yours safety ultimately lies with the user.

Meeting strangers with the excited perception of finding love lowers anyone’s guard. The courtship process should not let you use poor judgment.

Online Vultures

These individuals go out to dating site to prey on the vulnerabilities of those in their online communities. They pretend to be interested. They tell you things they know you want to hear. They get close enough to, and may even start “relationships” with, you so they can ‘play’ you. They ask for personal information, gifts, to borrow a credit card, and to have their rent/mortgage/car payment etc. paid for. Again, protect yourself with a quick background check or police record search. It’s probably a good idea to hold off with the gifts for a few months too. Gage opening your finances up to someone carefully as well.

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About the Writer

Jon Hosier is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Online Dating: Protect Yourself

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By Ray Colon on September 02, 2010 at 11:05 am

Hi Jon,

Whether we're talking about dating or just meeting new people who share our interests, in a non-romantic way, I've never found the online world to be any more or less dangerous than the offline world. When we meet new people, in either of these venues, common sense should prevail.

I tend to doubt that many people, online or offline, go through the trouble of running a background check. It may be a prudent suggestion that you offer, but perhaps not a step that most people consider taking when beginning a casual relationship.

The industry revenue and number of users that you've presented comes to an average of $27.75 per user. I assume that not all users are active, so the average revenue per user may be somewhat higher. Still, at these levels, I wouldn't classify the industry as booming in terms of revenue, even if it is popular for users.

Ray

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Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Jon Hosier on September 03, 2010 at 10:39 am

@Melody No J-date? Lol.

@Ray Thought you might find this infographic and computerworld blog interesting:

http://mashable.com/2010/03/24/online-dating-infographic/

http://blogs.computerworld.com/online_dating_its_bigger_than_porn

As far as the comparable level of danger, all I'm saying is that sitting in the comfort of their own homes people will react with less apprehension. As for common sense, pardon my cynicism, but it seems to be an elusive thing these days.

Thank you for the insightful reaction.

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