Let’s get back to our original subject: dating online. I want to focus on the online dating dangers that exist for both men and women, and what you can do to avoid internet dating dangers. By raising your awareness of some of the common dating scams, you’ll be able to delve into the online dating community with more caution, yet confidence. We’ve pointed out a number of dating safety tips before, but never about online dating specifically.
1. He’s a Married Man – One unfortunate concerns with online dating is that married people also use online dating sites to meet single people. Both married men and married women might use a dating website to find some friendship or companionship they aren’t quite getting at home, while other married daters seek to find a girlfriend or boyfriend online that their spouse doesn’t know about. Finally, some people look for extramarital affairs only by finding the casual sex part of an online dating community.
Now, you might not care whether a man or woman is in a marriage or not. That’s your concern. But I don’t want the online dating newbie to fall pray to a “singles scam”, so you need to know what to look for when meeting new people at an e-dating site.
If someone is particularly secretive about their home life, or they seem like a different person on the phone than over the internet, or they don’t want you calling them at all, they might be married. Of course, a guy may still live with his mom and not want you to know it, or a woman might simply being cautious, so use your common sense. In fact, as you’ll see later, I specifically tell women they should keep their secrets when meeting new people online.
2. Avoid Stalkers – You never know who you’re dealing with in online dating. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but it does mean you have to be cautious. People can edit their words and think through what they say in written communications, so they are naturally going to be more polished and rehearsed. Also, a lot of communication has to do with gestures, tone of voice and overall body language. So IM messages, emails and text messages don’t always tell the full story. That’s why you should go slowly, to give yourself more information to go on.
When I say go slowly, I mean you should avoid giving out your personal information to an online friend you’ve just met. Don’t give your home address. Don’t give out your telephone number. I even go so far as to suggest setting up an alternate email account, so you’re online dating friends don’t know anything about you. You want to find a new date, not a new stalker. You’ll occasionally meet someone who seems normal, but is emotionally unstable and will not know when to quit, so let’s keep it on a need-to-know basis.
3. Avoid Money Scams – This is less likely than it was in the early days of the internet, because people got more savvy about scammers. But another reason to avoid giving out your information is those who will use it to steal your identity and steal your money. The more information you give, the more information an online scam artist has to play a scam on you.
People have all kinds of motives on the internet, and you want to filter out the ones who can make your life more difficult. A more common and less devestating form of the internet scammer is someone who wants you telecom number or your email address, just so they can bombard you with unwanted emails or messages. Don’t give them the chance.
4. Wicked Foreign Women – Hopefully this is less common these days, too, but certain men can fall prey to exotic women who will charm a man enough to get him to give out privy information, then use it for a scam. Another is to make a connection with a man and then ask him for money. If a person you have never met face-to-face in another country asks you for money, do not send it. That’s a good blanket rule (which goes for people contacting you about a heretofore unknown cousins who is leaving you a fortune).
This especially goes when a person is asking you for a social security number or for you to send a check. A check allows them access to some of your banking information, and that’s really bad.
What you’re more likely going to face is a woman who gains your affection by showing you a little e-love, then using your wishful thinking against you and asking you to send her money. No matter how long you’ve been corresponding via email, no matter how much she says you’re funny and smart and that she’s in love, if she needs your money from another continent, she’s scamming you.
5. Really Dangerous People – Then there’s those who wish you harm. It’s just a bad idea to use blind faith when meeting an online dating partner on a first date. So when you have your first date with an online boyfriend or girlfriend, meet in a public location and let a friend or family member know exactly where you are and when you’re expected home. Also, drive yourself to the date site and carry enough money to get yourself home. Do not put yourself at the whims of this stranger (email friend is not the same as face-to-face friend), so always have an exit strategy.
Another thing women should watch out for is somone tampering with their drinks. Once again, a very small segment of the online dating community is going to be dangerous, but you have to watch out for yourself at all times, just in case. Keep an eye on your drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) all night. Don’t walk away from it.
Furthermore, I would suggest you keep it simple on the first date. Don’t be alone at all. If you get any kind of a bad feeling, get out. Come down on the side of caution always. Go with your gut feeling and do not chance it.
Online Dating Caution
Once again, online dating is a great way to meet people and it gives you access to an exponentially larger dating pool than local live dating does. Also, you don’t have to go to a bar to meet someone. You’ll probably meet someone more compatible meeting your dates over the internet, too. But you do have to take precautions.
That’s what I’m asking for you to remember about online dating dangers. Stay cautious and don’t overplay your hand. Draw things out enough so you can see if inconsistencies in their story appear. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
I’ll probably write more on online dating safety later in the week, so stayed tuned for a large blog post on online dating safety tips.