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Online Dating; Don't be sorry, just get careful

Keep an open mind at all times
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Imagine logging onto your Ok Cupid account to find that one of your matches is James Holmes. I’m sure you can image the flooring feeling that one female dater felt when match.com paired her with the Colorado movie shooter as a great match. Holmes had profiles set up on Match.com as well as AdultFriendFinder.com prior to the unfortunate incidents in Aurora early Friday morning. Fellow Relationship Advice Examiner, Charisse Van Horn applied the discovery of Holmes’ dating profiles to inform online daters of the “inherent risk” associated with online dating.

“There are inherent risks to Internet dating and though some steps may be taken to ensure safety, there is no [fool-proof] method to ensure the person you are chatting with or considering meeting is sane.”

Not every online dater is a murderer or a potential rapist. Yes, Holmes is an alleged mass murderer. But fellow daters please don’t allow one bad apple to terrorize your online dating experience. There are risks associated with online dating but labeling them inherent seems pretty excessive. There are inherent risks to smoking, inherent risks to playing football professionally and inherent risks to posting your credit card number as your Facebook status. Online dating risks are acquired. There is no full-proof method of knowing if a person is sane but when you think about it the act of dating is pretty insane to begin with.

When you decided to open your options to the Internet as a dating tool, the moment you open your browser you become vulnerable to everything and everyone the World Wide Web has to offer. Don’t be fearful of online dating but ALWAYS be cautious and alert. The entire world is a scary place and it didn’t become scary and dangerous with the invention of the internet. Take Van Horn’s advice on the safety rules but also set up your own guidelines. Your life is more valuable than finding the right person so use your better judgment and always remember these basic guidelines.

Tell your friends and family that you are online dating. A decade ago online dating was taboo, risky, and held a stigma of being pathetic and creepy. People become embarrassed to admit that they participate in online dating and are reluctant to reveal how and where they were introduced to their new honey. Today 40 million Americans have active profiles on Internet dating websites, according to statisticbrain.com. You are not alone. Don’t be ashamed. Telling your friends and family the websites that you use and the first name of anyone you plan on meeting reduces your risk of turning up missing. It’s a great idea to give out the location of a first date. Check-in on Facebook, FourSquare or any other social media so you’re entire network knows where you are. It’s bragging rights and covering your ass at the same time. Encourage a single friend or family member to join the same sites you’re on so that you can check out each other’s dates and then double date together. The point is: don’t be in your own little bubble when online dating because the bubble will pop and you could get hurt.

Contain your privacy. When someone emails you from a dating site they don’t know you. They will only know you when you decide to let them know you. Take it slow. Don’t be quick to give out your personal email address, home address, phone number or even last name until you feel comfortable after a face to face meeting. Never have a new date pick you up or drop you off. Go with your gut feeling if you're feeling any uncertainty about meeting with someone. The first few dates (three is a good number) always meet in a public and crowded place and try not to stay out too late even on weekends. Talking about yourself is half the fun of dating but remain mindful of what you reveal. You don’t have to reveal you’re entire present life. Focus on characteristics and what you’re looking to gain out of meeting new people.

Always have yourself and your well being at the forefront of your mind. If you don’t love yourself enough to take care of yourself then you shouldn’t be dating anyway. Happy dating and be safe out there.

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