Everything we do today seems to have some kind of connection to the internet, and dating is certainly no exception to that rule. An estimated one out of every five adults, aged 25 to 34, say they have used an online dating site, with similar numbers of users in the 35-year-old to 44-year-old range.
Unfortunately, just like everything else that has made the migration to the worldwide web, online dating isn’t without its perils. With cases of fraud, murder, assault, and a number of other problems being tied to the world of online dating, is it any wonder that everyone from The Huffington Post to authors like Tyler Cohen Wood are publishing stories and books, outlining how people can defend themselves from online predators?
Do a Few Isolated Incidents Actually Constitute a Problem?
These unfortunate instances don’t mean that online dating sites are wretched hives of scum and villainy. However, with assault, murder, and financial fraud ostensibly becoming more common following contact on these websites, those looking for love need to know how to defend themselves.
“The number one thing that we focus on is to meet women in person. In many cases online, like on Catfish: The TV Show, and in the online dating world, many people pretend to be someone they are not,” explains Dan Bacon, Founder of The Modern Man. “Some use fake pictures and fake identities, which causes confusion and despair for many men in the dating world, especially when they realize the woman they are talking to is not the person they thought they were. If a man is dating online, I recommend Skyping, video chatting, and face to face interaction. If the other party is avoiding that, it is a sign that you are indeed being lied to and should move on to another dating opportunity.”
Protecting Yourself May Be a Matter of Common Sense
In her new book, Catching the Catfishers: Disarm the Online Pretenders, Predators and Perpetrators Who Are Out to Ruin Your Life, Tyler Cohen Wood outlines the dangers of online dating, and she makes a solid effort to highlight some of the common sense things web users can do to avoid their own Lotharios.
- Google is Your Friend- If you’ve got a bad feeling about your suitor, try looking them up in Google. You might be surprised to find how often other dating site users will report the same fraudster looking to rip people off on Match.com and elsewhere.
- Do They Have an Active Online Presence? Is your online love-interest active on Facebook and Twitter? Do they talk with other people through their online dating profile? If not, you need to consider that they may have honed in on you as a target.
- Have You Actually Talked to Them? Nothing should send up a red flag faster than the Black Widow who refuses to talk with you via Skype, phone, or other medium. They don’t necessarily have to video chat, but why won’t they actually talk to you? Are they afraid of betraying an accent that their supposed nationality doesn’t support?
Millions upon millions of online daters can’t be wrong; online dating sites can certainly be a great way to find love. As time goes on and criminals find new and unique ways to take advantage of lonely hearts, however, we all need to learn to defend ourselves.