Did Online Dating Just Get Safer?

Online dating kings Match.com, eharmony.com and Spark Network, which owns and operates JDate, have agreed to start screening for sex offenders, in addition to other “safety precautions”, in order to help their clients. Their goal is to help their consumers guard against sexual predators, identity thieves, and people trying to scam money.  While it’s lovely and will maybe help people, I’m not that impressed or excited about it.

I am currently using dating sites and while in theory these changes are important, the best way to be safe when dating online is to not be delussion by love.  They can sign all the papers they want, but it won’t help us be safe as much as we can help ourselves.  They need to be held accountable I guess, but I’m not sure this is going to help us.  That said, if I were someone naive who had no common sense, I might be stoked about this development.

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said, “Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted.”  The sites will check members against the national sex registry, provide safety tips, and show people how to report abuse.  Important to note that this only applies to members, not perverts who are just looking at the sites.  There are also no penalties if you get caught being a deviant.

I have been out with men I met online who had made me feel unsafe so I ended the date.  Nobody gets my number until I check them out, and I block my number when calling them.  Nobody comes to my house, and I meet in places I know, and am known.  I take care of myself because it is my responsibility to me, and my obligation to my child. My question is this: Will these new policies stop married men from saying they are divorced?

Last year an estimated 40 million people around the world dated online, and over one billion dollars was spent on memberships.  If they are making that much money can they not do more than run a search against a database that may or may not catch someone? Are safety pointers going to help?  It’s sweet of them, but honestly I just don’t know if this is going to keep me safe.  That said, there are people who may benefit.

I have met convicted felons online.  Men who have done prison time for drug trafficking, embezzlement, and forgery.  Lovely men, but convicted felons who were cute enough that I’m sure they had a couple dates with Bubba in the big house.  I know this about them because I ask questions.  Use your intuition. You’d be surprised how many people will be honest when answering the question, “Are you a convicted felon?” if you just ask.

We can put men on the moon and talk face to face with people on the other side of the planet through our phones, but we cannot make online dating safe.  There will always be some animal who cracks the system, some pig who thinks it is okay to treat us disrespectfully, or somebody who wants to dupe you into giving you their money.  The bottom line when dating online is to trust yourself more than you trust a stranger.

To be clear, this development is important from the perspective of letting people know they are being watched, but whether or not it will make a difference remains to be seen.  In the end it’s all a crapshoot.  You can be married for 20 years and have your spouse take all your money, steal your identity, and abuse you sexually.  People can’t always be trusted whether you know them or they are strangers.  That’s life.

I’m not that interested in their safety tips, but am very curious about who exactly is going to write them.  If they are going to get the 21 year old with a steady boyfriend who’s first job out of college is press for an online dating site, then the tips will be useless.  If they are going to talk to people who have actually dated online and had hits and misses, then maybe they will actually be able to help somebody.

Dating is really hard.  I date because I am looking to share my life with someone. I often worry I will talk myself into someone because I am lonely, or so fed up with bad dates that I will a bad one to be good.  There is someone out there for everyone and sometimes it takes time to find them. We must be patient, believe in ourselves, throw in an occasional prayer, not allow desperation to creep in, and always keep the faith.