Dear Anon-O-Box: The 10 Commandments of Online Dating Safety

Dear Anon-O-Box,

I’ve been single for the past six months and I feel I’m ready to jump back into dating. The problem is I have issues haphazardly meeting people while out and about because 1) I’m usually surrounded by other people that I know and 2) outside of my little circle of comfort, I’m just too shy. In the past, my relationships have blossomed from friendships that started in school, but having recently graduated and moved to a new city combined with coming out of a three-year relationship, I can’t say I know any local, single guys! So, I would like to give online dating a try, but I am hesitant.

What concerns me most about dating sites is the possibility of getting trolled or harassed. I’m a young, single lady, and I want to get out and meet like-minded guys, but the moment I start to feel uncomfortable on a site, I’m going to leave. I realize there’s a risk of this on any site, but what are my options like in terms of safety and blocking users who aren’t “playing nice”, so to speak?

- Is it Safe?

e answers:

Dear Safe,

With the recent lawsuit against Match.com all over the news recently, it seemed like the perfect time to address your question. The internet can be a very scary place, but remember that it’s pretty much a mirror of the real world. Maybe a funhouse mirror, since sometimes things are a bit distorted from reality.

In real life dating, there are nice guys and bad boys. Freaks and weirdos. And sex offenders.

In online dating, there are nice guys and bad boys. Freaks and weirdos. And sex offenders.

Match.com has announced that they will be implementing member sex offender screening starting in a few months. However, this will most likely be done using the identification given in the method of payment. So if a sex offender uses someone else’s credit card (begged, borrowed, or stolen), they may come up squeaky clean when in fact they’re not.

The moral of the story? Don’t trust a seal on any dating site. 99% of the time, the person will probably check out just fine, but that 1% of a Very Bad Person is still a possibility.

Ten Commandments of Online Dating Safety

1. Thou shalt not give thy full name to someone thou hast never met in real life. (Playeth as though thou is a wizard – thy name is power!)

2. Thou shalt not give thine address, neither home nor work.

3. Thou shalt use an email account that has been created specifically for online dating and online dating only. And while thou is at it, create a new IM handle to go with thine new email account.

4. Thou shalt use a screenname unique to online dating (not one thou useth on other websites).

5. Thou shalt always chat via IMs or phone before meeting in person.

6. Thou shalt use the BLOCK and REPORT features of thine dating site whenever they are needed. No means no, the first time. Thou needest not hear whining, nor disparaging language, nor anger.

7. Thou shalt always share the details of thine dates and their locations with a trusted friend, who shalt provide thee with a call 30 minutes into thine date, in case thou needest an “out.” In cases where thou feelest iffy about a date, sendeth two friends to dine at the same location to keep an eye on thee.

8. Thou shalt always transport thyself to and from a date, never accepting a ride from a stranger.

9. Thou shalt always meet for dates in well-lit, public locations.

10. Thou shalt always trust thine gut, use Google to thine advantage, and never be afraid to say NO.

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