FORT WORTH, Texas, February 21, 2013 — My last column told how Pat Hansen and Carrie Dodd found love online, based on mutual trust and love growing over time. Unfortunately this is not the case for everyone.
Madison Avenue has done a great job of convincing people that love is just a few keystrokes away. It all looks so easy. TV commercials show happy and beautiful people who have found their soul mates as a result of an online dating service. The background music is joyful and upbeat. Adoring couples smile at the camera all the while hugging, kissing and finally delighting in life now that they’ve found the right person.
All you’ve got to do is choose an internet dating site and sign up — usually for a fee that ranges anywhere from $0 to $60.00 per month.
The commercials will have you believe that in no time at all Mr./Ms. Right will be all yours. Could this be true?
None of them overtly say anything about safety or background checks in their advertising. After all the clients are adults and can take responsibility for themselves, right? Oh, there are safety tips and advice on these sites, but they are relegated to small print at the bottom of the first page or deeper in the site. Either way one has to hunt for them.
Yet the amount of time spent earning trust and getting to know a new person online seems to be much shorter than in real life. Think about it. On Facebook, how long does it take to get close to people never met face to face and to consider them a close personal friend? Now put the same people together in a room together while still strangers. How long would it take to achieve the same level of intimacy?
If you think not long, just remember how you feel when you are in an elevator full of strangers or standing in line at the grocery store. In all likelihood most folks you meet are decent people. But there are con artists, control freaks and just plain evil people out there too. Somehow it seems easy to forget that when you don’t have to look someone in the eye.
Mary Kay Beckman certainly didn’t expect her date made through Match.com, Wade Ridley, to stab and nearly stomp her to death. Now ChristianMingle.com is reportedly having problems as well. One of its subscribers, Sean Banks has allegedly lured victims using the dating website. He has pled not guilty to rape by force, residential burglary and digital penetration by force.
It’s likely there are many more cases that go unreported as well.
Why does this happen? Some blame loneliness, others desperation. Yet others still have never learned to pay attention to those little “red flags” waving around in our brains when something is not right. And even if they are noticed, Dr. Susan Biali, M.D. says in her article for Psychology Today, “Relationship Red Flags – Are You Ignoring Them?” “Usually, our problem isn’t whether or not we see the red flags….It’s what we or our psyche decide to do with this information that matters most.”
Another reason is being in a hurry or letting the relationship develop too fast. That’s a personal one for me, having almost married a guy who was really, really bad news.
At the time I was lonely - hadn’t had a date in a couple of years, didn’t have the best self-esteem and so my red flags weren’t obvious to me yet. There were other conspicuous warning signals as well that I overlooked. Signs so obvious that for me to have ignored them was off the Stupid-Chart. I won’t go into the gory details here, but I am very grateful to this day that I chose to take another path.
In addition to the safety issues there are people out there that are just plain creepy. Online Dating Nightmares is a collection of online dating emails that either creep you out or just plain disgust the reader.
Here’s a sample:
“hi, im here looking for my bride, can u be the one?? If yes, please do reply. Thanks, Ahmad”
“Well, you seem kind of cool…..but before I let you into my social circle, please answer the following questions:
a) can you cook?
b) are you rich?
c) are you adventurous? Hans”
One can’t be too careful. Safety is an absolute must. Also, while laughing hysterically at some of the emails like those above, keep a paper bag to breathe into in case you hyperventilate from cracking up.
All kidding aside, here are a few websites that will help one navigate the online dating world:
Discovery Health’s Cyber Relationships: The Risks and Rewards of Online Dating by Coulson Duerksen
Hubpages’ How to Spot Online Dating Cons and Scams and How to Avoid Them by Marcy Goodefleisch
We all want to be loved. It’s only natural. Yet we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives. If you expect to be protected in a secure way, don’t count on a website to do it.
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