Following the recent murder of a Seattle mom after meeting with a man she met online, more people are considering the dangers of online dating. A tragedy like the death of Ingrid Lyne isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
Following the recent murder of a Seattle mom after meeting with a man she met online, more people are considering the dangers of online dating. A tragedy like the death of Ingrid Lyne isn’t the first and won’t be the last. Unfortunately, the internet is filled with predators looking to take advantage of others. Any person with bad intentions can create an online persona that is friendly, unassuming, and innocent. While everyone you meet online isn’t going to be a murderer, they can still be a someone who is out to scam, rob, or assault unwitting victims.
The popularity of online dating continues to grow as social media becomes more and more integrated into our lives. A 2013 study showed that more than a third of marriages in the United States started through online dating. The perfect romantic relationship can just be a click or tap of a button away on the device that’s resting in your pocket.
When it comes to online dating, safety starts on your online profile. A good place to start is by finding a website catered to your specific needs, where other users will probably be equally as serious as you are about meeting someone. Sites like Farmersonly.com cater to certain professions, while sites like JDate.com or Seniorpeoplemeet.com are for specific faiths or age groups looking for love. There are dating services for almost every specific interest or lifestyle imaginable.
When you fill out your profile, don’t give your home town, house address, or job address away. Some experts recommend never giving your personal phone number out either, opting instead to communicate via online audio calls like Google Voice. If you come upon a user who is suspicious or threatening, most services offer block features to keep them from bothering you as well as their own tips on how to stay safe while using their services.
If someone’s profile picture seems too good to be true, Google’s reverse image search feature can quickly confirm if the picture they’re using is the real deal or a stolen image. You should try to get to know someone as much as you can through online communication before meeting with them in real life. Most people do so through instant messaging, but it is easy for someone to make up lies through messages. You can always take advantage of online background checks. Sometimes, simply looking up a person’s name can bring up a lot of information on them.
But a clean background check can just mean that the person never got caught doing anything criminal. Make sure to ask your match questions, and pay attention to what stories and facts don’t match up, like constantly changing jobs or stories. Excessive bad grammar or odd word usage (think spam emails) can be the sign of a scam. Match.com offers that uses of words like “destiny” or “fate” are also red flags, words that can raise excitement and vulnerability in those desperately seeking love.
Whether arranged online or not, everyone should be cautious of strangers they meet from anywhere. It’s best to never meet a first date alone. Always stick to public places when meeting someone for the first time, or even if you just don’t know them that well yet. When I first met my current boyfriend, we met in a crowded bookstore and had lunch during a busy hour of the day. Double dates are great too! Daytime dates are also better than nighttime dates, as more people will be around and they will also be more alert. If your date is pressuring you to be alone with them, or if they are making you uncomfortable in any way, you have every right to end the date and leave.
When you do meet with someone, make sure you let a friend or family member know who you are with and where you are going. Some apps, like Safetrek or Kitestring, will alert friends when you haven’t checked in, ring an alarm, or will provide authorities with your GPS location with a push of a button.
You should always transport yourself to and from meetings with strangers. If something goes wrong, you need to be able to control how and when you are going to leave. To this end, it’s also a good idea to stay sober. That way, no one can take advantage of you while you’re in a vulnerable state, and you can remain capable of making good decisions. Always take money for a taxi.
Sometimes online matches can be very far away, and travelling is necessary. In that case, never leave yourself vulnerable by staying at a stranger’s house. Book a hotel, and keep the location of your hotel confidential, and use cab services to get around.
Sometimes, people, especially younger people, feel embarrassed for feeling suspicious and acting cautiously. Remember that there is no shame in protecting yourself, and you will never regret doing so. If your date is a good person, they will understand and respect your carefulness. Haven’t we all been taught since childhood to never trust strangers? While the world is mostly filled with good apples, you never know when you’re going to meet a bad one.
Photo : Source