Who’s Checking You Out?

The Hidden Dangers of Online Dating


In this fast paced world, everything moves at the speed of light, whether it’s your brand new iPhone or your Lexus Hybrid. Being that we are always on the go, it is that much harder to meet someone special.

In the past 15 years, the world of online dating has exploded and become a trend that many Americans have begun following. According to the Chadwick Martin Bailey Study, one out of every five singles is dating online. Online dating services are everywhere we look. If it’s not a commercial for eHarmony or Match.com, it’s a side bar ad on our Facebook for Christian Mingles.

 “Everyone knows someone who met on a dating website. It’s so popular it’s becoming a norm,” said Michele Ventricelli, junior.

These websites practically sell themselves too. Nobody wants to be alone, and making a profile takes five minutes. So what’s the harm in seeing what’s out there? Well that’s a question Americans should take into serious consideration before heading down the path of online dating. The bigger question is, how do we really know who we are talking to when we’re speaking to someone we met on the internet?

According to William McElrath, Chief of Police at the University, the main concern is that you really don’t know too much about the “real” person you’re meeting online. That person could easily be married or have intentions of taking advantage of your wallet. The person could also be dangerous and looking for easy victims.

In a recent study, the Huffington Post showed that the biggest lie in online dating shows that most men are two inches shorter than what they list on the online dating profile. T he s tudy a lso s howed that women are likely to lie about weight o n t heir p rofile. A nother statistic listed by the Huffington Post was that many online daters are roughly 20 percent poorer than what they listed.

“If I had an online dating profile, I would only list my best qualities,” said Kim Kravitz, junior.

To make matters worse, it’s not just the lies that online daters have to worry about. According to buzzle. com, one of the greatest dangers of using an Internet dating service comes to women and the predators that are on these websites, looking for someone naïve to take advantage of. “A thing to remember is that usually a person who will somehow try and take advantage of you will contact you before attempting to do so,” said McElrath.

When online dating, a person might only talk to someone for a few days before deciding that it’s time to meet in person. But even if you invest weeks and months before meeting in person, there really is no way of knowing if they are who they say they are. “I have a lot of friends who have gotten into the online dating scene,” said Ruth Myers, junior. “It’s not for me. There is too much risk involved.”

According to Onlinedatingmagazine. com, it is important to share as little information as possible when online dating. Many users decide to become Facebook friends with those that they “meet,” in addition to communicating through the dating site. The issue here is that many people list very valuable information on their Facebook page, including their place of work, current city, and last name. Your last name could be the key to a predator’s dream come true. Whitepages.com has your address linked to your last name and it is only a click away.

“Don’t rush to give out your phone number, Facebook information or last name. When you do feel it is time to talk on the phone, the woman should get his phone number and call him,” said McElrath. Online daters must be careful not to give out last names, home phone numbers, home addresses, and email addresses containing any personal information. “Set up a separate email account that you use only for online dating and doesn’t include your real name or other identifiers. In emails only use your first name. Don’t ever give out your personal information too soon,” said McElrath.

One step a person can take before meeting someone for a date is performing a background check. “Be advised that not coming up with information on the background check does not mean that the individual is legitimate or not dangerous,” said McElrath. But it takes a few minutes online and you will know everything you need to about someone in a matter of minutes. Romantic, isn’t it?

Another method online daters should take is to learn self-defense, particularly women. Taking these simple steps could truly make a difference. There is no way of knowing who exactly you are coming in contact with. Why risk your life? “If I ever decided to try online dating there is no way I’d even sign up without taking a self-defense class or two. You just never know,” said Myers.

The most important thing is to always go with your gut. When you decide it is time to meet, do so in a public place. Always let a friend or two know exactly where you will be. Online dating is a growing industry because of the natural need for companionship. But it is important to remember the risks involved, and that safety should always come first.

IMAGE TAKEN from freeonlinedatingsites.org