At least once a month I am contacted by someone in the media to talk about online dating safety. It’s a hot-button for me and I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that singles are safely looking for love online.
Over the weekend, The New York Times posted an article about the latest background check services available for online daters. The piece, written by Stephanie Rosenbloom, New Online-Date Detectives Can Unmask Mr. or Ms. Wrong, discussed a variety of services have popped up on the Internet to check out your date before you mate, or even before you click reply to his or her latest email.
Sites such as MyMatchChecker.com, ValiMate, Date Check make it easier to check out your date during the courting stages. One should realize that these services are not limited to online dating. You should use the same common sense methods for offline dating. The bottom line is, you should trust your intuition and take your time.
Still, the question is being asked of me on Twitter daily since the Times piece and subsequent follow up article on Forbes.com, The Perils of Online Dating and Talking About Broken Marriages with the New York Times posted by Kashmir Hill.
There’s a reason my book is titled, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. As a smart woman and successful Internet executive during the dotcom days, I was too busy to check out the man I married and later divorced. Had I done a background check on him, I would not have married him. It was time to turn lemons into lemonade and pay it forward.
So here is my take on To Check, or Not to Check your date out thoroughly in advance.
1. Do a simple Google search, but don’t discuss it on your first date.
2. Use your intuition and see if his or her stories add up. Do they work where they say they do? Do the communications via email and phone match up to who you believe you are scheduled to meet? If not, take a pass. There will always be another email in your inbox.
3. Go ahead and search if you must, but remember, not all of the information is always accurate.
4. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Everyone is bound to have something that doesn’t check out well. Perhaps he or she has bad credit due to the economy or a recent divorce. There’s no need to toss them out just yet if that is the case, but if you see a series of lawsuits piled up under his or her name, you might have reason to be concerned.
More women are in favor of doing a background check in advance of a first date to make sure he isn’t “Married,” or “Separated, Divorce Pending.” Finding out your date is a felon is something you must know, but worrying that each date could be with a felon will actually be counter-productive to your dating process.
Most men are worrying that the woman won’t look like her photos. Yes, men are visual. It’s at the top of their list.
As far as online dating sites being required to have a background search on each member, I am in favor of them providing the option for each member to do a background search from an outside company. My big concern is that if the information isn’t accurate, someone will blame the Internet dating site and more lawsuits will arise. I do believe each site should have an advice section on online dating safety. Whether commonsense or not, when it comes to matters of the heart, all bets are usually off when love and chemistry are involved. Better safe, than sorry.
I have contributed to the following online dating safety articles to help you feel safe at home, or at least on that first date. Feel free to read and comment.
ABC News – Should Online Dating Sites Be Required to Do Background Checks?
CBS News – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day
CNET – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day–Safely
Cyber-Dating Expert – 5 Online Dating Safety Tips
Cyber-Dating Expert - Tyra Banks on Online Dating
Cyber-Dating Expert – Cyberdating Safety Tips
eHow – Cyber Dating Safety
Examiner – How Safe is Your Date?
FOX News – Cyber Dating Safety
Genconnect TV – Online Dating Safety Tips (Vide0)
Huffington Post – Online Dater Convicted of Assault
Huffington Post - To Sext, or Not to Sext
John Tesh - Criminals Could Be on the Dating Websites You Join
PC World – How to Scope Someone Out Online
Sympatico.ca – How to Spot a Cyber Player
Sympatico.ca – Protect Yourself Against Cyber Dating Scams
The Smart and Pretty - The Perils of Cyber-Dating and How to Avoid Them
WPIX – Cyberdating Safety (Video)
Your Tango – 7 Signs He’s Dating You For Your Money