Online Dating: Has it Made Women Take More Risks?

Posted by on 11 29 11 in Love Addiction News | Comments Off on Online Dating: Has it Made Women Take More Risks?

People are incredibly busy today. There’s little time to get all the things done in a day that have to be taken care of, let alone find the time to meet someone new. When it comes to women using the Internet to find potential dates or partners, however, there’s both good news and bad news.

First of all, there’s no question that online dating sites have proliferated. From relative obscurity just a few short years ago, there are countless websites today that are advertised on TV, radio, in print and billboard ads and on the Internet. This does make it a lot easier to meet new people.

But it’s just this easy access that often has a darker side to it. There are some inherent dangers in online dating that all women need to be aware of, especially if they intend to make use of this new way of dating.

What are some of the dangers? Are women taking more risks by engaging in online dating? We’ll take a look at some of the most prevalent dangers.

Who Is He, Really?

The relative ease of creating a fictitious persona is at the heart of one of the main dangers of online dating. You never really know who it is that is behind the screen name. Hiding behind a made-up moniker could be a rapist, a child molester, a wife-beater, a criminal, or an otherwise unsavory character. Think this is an exaggeration? You wouldn’t if you’d read some of the horror stories posted on some sites that seek to reveal the dangers and the risks posed by use of online dating services.

The person you think is a straight-forward, honest individual who is sincerely interested in you may, in fact, be a cheating spouse. It’s easy to obtain a secret email address, create an online persona, even arrange for a post office box for mailing correspondence, all in an attempt to cloak a true identity. And it happens all too often that women, young and old, are taken in by someone pretending to be something entirely different than they really are.

Bottom line here: You need to be extremely cautious about who you interact with online at these dating sites. Even the most so-called “rigorously screened” sites, you can’t be too cautious.

Keep Your Distance

Online dating safety experts, that is, people who study this behavior and have recommendations to make to ensure your safety, say it’s better to decide ahead of time how close of a proximity you want an online dating partner to be. Do you want to put in your profile that you’re looking for someone close by, or within 25 to 50 miles, or in another state?

While the temptation, once you start emailing back and forth, will be to want to pick up the phone and/or meet with this individual in-person, this actually may not be a wise strategy, particularly from a safety standpoint.

Another aspect of having someone who knows your phone number and address, or can easily figure out where you live by clues you leave in your email correspondence – or that you outright tell him – is that you could be subjecting yourself to harassment by phone and/or in-person. If a phone number is requested and you would like to be able to talk with this person live, and you feel comfortable doing so, ask for his phone number instead. Never give your phone number out. This avoids you having to change your phone number to get away from harassing phone calls that you shouldn’t have had to deal with in the first place.

Be Mum About Personal Details

Another area where women eager to meet someone new get into trouble is giving out too many personal details too soon in the online dating arena. Since you never really know who it is you’re communicating with, the best practice is to take it slow — really slow, as a matter of fact.

You don’t have to be a cardboard person, but be general in your comments about where you live and what you do for a living. You might give the county, but don’t give the address. You could say you work in the communications field without revealing that you work for a specific telecom company, for example.

Also don’t reveal how much property you have, the size of your house or lot, how many and what kind of cars you drive or how much you make. This is nobody’s business but your own, at least this early in any prospective relationship. The more information you give out, even in little bits here and there, can be used against you. And it’s definitely not safe.

Guard Against Sending Photos

It’s a natural tendency to want to share with another individual something that’s unique and endearing about you, such as personal photos. But this is another area where you could get burned and it could be risky for you.

Remember that when you send out photos over the Internet, the other party can do anything they want with it. Your image could be dropped into a compromising photo using Photo Shop or, worse yet, if you’ve sent photos of you partially clad or in the nude, you could wind up being blackmailed, having your reputation ruined, or just being incredibly humiliated.

You have an identity that you need to protect. When in doubt, leave the photos out. You have an image on the online dating site. That should be sufficient for the near term, at least until you are very, very sure who this individual is that you’re communicating with. Even then, it’s probably better to not send images over the Internet.

Red Flags to Be Concerned About

We all know that red flags indicate a warning, something to be extremely cautious about. Yet, when it comes to online dating, many women sail blithely into a “relationship” and give little thought to what could go wrong.

Just to keep you informed, here are some obvious red flags that you absolutely must pay attention to. If any one of them occurs, this is not a relationship that you should continue.

  • Asking about your finances – Anyone who is really interested in you won’t be asking you detailed questions about your finances. This is a big no-no that should send shivers up your spine. Your financial situation should remain private unless and until you’ve met this person many times and are on a solid relationship basis with him. Even then, keep the details of your finances close to the vest. In a similar vein, if he brags how wealthy he is, that is a sure sign of just the opposite. People with money don’t talk about it openly. If he says he was once on top of the world but has taken a hit recently, this may mean that he’ll try to hit you up to “help” him out in the near future – another red flag of warning.
  • Evasiveness, changing details – Over a period of time, correspondence between you and this online dating partner will reveal many things. It’s for this reason that you should save all emails that you send or receive from this individual, as well as copies or transcripts of all chat rooms. Read them over after the fact. Notice if the details change, are inconsistent, or point to a tendency to exaggerate. Do answers to questions you ask seem evasive? You’ll be able to spot these things if you pay attention to what this person says during repeated correspondence. A pattern of lies and inconsistencies as well as evasiveness is a strong warning sign.
  • Wanting to engage in phone sex or cyber-sex – Really watch out for this one. Any person you meet in an online dating site that encourages you to have phone sex with him right away is someone you want to run away from. Ditto if he wants you to buy and use a web-cam, usually a dead-on sign that someone wants you to take your clothes off on camera. This is likely a person who is only contacting you for the purpose of phone sex or cyber sex, not someone who wants to have a meaningful, lasting relationship with you.
  • Professing to love you – You may be lonely and need companionship, but don’t be persuaded by someone professing to love you – at least, not right away, in the early stages of online dating. Maybe he doesn’t use the word love. He may, instead, say he feels so “connected” to you. Whatever he calls it, the whole thing should raise a red flag for you.
  • Making excuses for not to meet – Does he always have an excuse why you can’t meet in person? This is, of course, if the “relationship” has seemed promising and you would like to meet the individual in person. If he says he is too busy working or has such a tight schedule, there may be another reason. It could be that he is married, is just stringing you along, or is with another person and not really that interested in you. In any case, when it seems like an adequate time has passed and all other things seem promising, if he doesn’t want to meet you, that’s not a good sign.
  • Past relationships intruding – It may seem like you’re being nosy, but try to determine early on when this person’s last relationship ended. Experts recommend steering clear of relationships that recently ended. Why? The simple fact is that if he just ended a relationship with another woman, he may very well get back together with her and you will be left high and dry. While this isn’t always the case, it’s better to be very careful with guys who’ve just gotten dumped or did the dumping. Another red flag is how he describes the break-up, if he provides details. Steer clear of anyone who has very negative things to say about the ex. This shows poor character and someone who may hold you in very low esteem somewhere down the line. After all, if he’s done it once, he may do it again. It’s not worth the risk.
  • Contacting you from overseas – Never, ever get involved communicating with someone who reaches out to you from overseas. Outside of the geographic impossibilities, there are numerous scam artists who frequent online dating sites and prey on women. Don’t become a victim. Anyone from overseas should be strictly off-limits.

Risks Associated With Online Dates That Become Real Dates

Suppose you’ve gotten to the point where you’re ready to meet the individual you’ve been communicating with in the security of the online dating site, or through your secure and anonymous email that you’ve set up. Just because you feel comfortable at this point is no time to let your guard down. Here are some precautions that you should take when an online date becomes a real date.

While this may not seem like something you’d automatically do, you might consider running a background check on this individual that you’re about to go out on an actual date with. By now, you should have enough information about him to be able to find out more in a background check. And, should it come out that you’ve done so, remember this: The only one who’ll be upset about a background check is someone with something to hide. Before you go out on that first meet or date, be sure you know who it is you’re dealing with.

Remember that there is still a risk that this individual could turn out to be someone other than he has portrayed himself to be. For your first date, especially, arrange to meet in a public place. Let your friends know where you are going to be and the time you expect to meet the individual as well as when you expect to return home.

It’s also a good idea to arrange a check-in phone call while you’re on your date so that your friend can be sure you’re okay. Have some code words you use to let your friend know it’s either okay or that you may need to be rescued. Maybe you think this is a harsh way to look at the situation, but you can’t ever be too careful. Meeting at a mall and having to meet your friend or friends at a pre-arranged time will give you an out that is both natural and non-threatening. Know where mall security is and don’t be afraid to yell out for help if you need to.

Drive yourself to your date. Don’t allow him to pick you up. This prevents the other person from knowing where you live and gives you a little more control over the situation. If you don’t like the way things are going, you’ve got your own way out of there.

A good way to protect yourself is to learn self-defense techniques. There have been instances of women who have been assaulted when online dates turn into real dates. By learning how to take care of yourself in the event of an assault, you will feel more secure.

Too Lonely Shouldn’t Mean Losing Your Common Sense

Yes, everyone wants to have someone in their life. For many women, this means having a male partner or companion to spend more than just casual time with. But just because you’re lonely shouldn’t mean that you take leave of your common sense.

If something doesn’t feel right about someone you meet in online dating, there’s probably a good reason for it. There is likely something wrong and you should steer clear of this individual.

Maybe, at the core, you aren’t really ready for this type of interaction. Despite glowing advertisements from supposedly happy couples, not everything that goes on in the online dating arena is all roses and sunshine. The ones who’ve gotten burned aren’t likely to speak out, and the TV ads only tout the happily ever after stats.

Just be very cautious. In the end, if you take your time and use some of the precautions laid out here, you should be able to navigate this new way of meeting prospective partners safely and securely. Don’t be one of the risk-takers that have an unfortunate, or worse, experience.

Online dating, while it is becoming increasingly popular, may not be worth you taking more risks than you should.