With more than 16 million members on eHarmony and 23 million members on Match.com, online dating has officially gone mainstream.
Just ten years ago, people were weary of finding dates online (who could blame them?). Today, online dating is just as common as meeting someone in a bar or nightclub.
Over 49 million people have tried online dating in the U.S. alone.
While this method of meeting and connecting with partners has come a long way, it’s still important to take steps to protect your safety.
Is Dating Online Safe?
Online dating can be safe. No matter whether you’ve just met someone at a bar or through an online dating site, there are potential dangers when meeting someone you don’t know. Yes, the web offers the convenience of anonymity, which makes it easy for people to pretend to be someone they’re not, but if you take the right precautions, dating online partners can be perfectly safe.
Before we get into questions you should ask partners and safety tips, let’s first take a close look at the potential dangers that go along with online dating.
The Potential Dangers of Online Dating
Online dating may be more normal than ever, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t risky. Many men and women have fallen victim to predators that use online dating sites to find new targets.
Some potential dangers of dating online include:
- Assault or murder: In extreme and unfortunate cases, online dating ends in physical or sexual assault, or death.
- Identity theft: Sharing too much personal information can lead to your online dating partner getting a hold of sensitive information and stealing your identity.
- Stalking: Some individuals become obsessed with their online dating partners, and stalking can become an issue if that person gets a hold of your address and personal information.
- Relationship quarrels: Is your partner married, but not telling you? It’s not uncommon for online daters to find out that their partner has been lying to them and is actually married with a family. Relationship quarrels can get ugly, and can sometimes have physical or legal ramifications.
- Online dating scams: Scams are more common than you think in the online dating world. The predator gets close to its victim, and uses their emotional connection to swindle money, property or other assets from the victim. These relationships typically end shortly after the predator gets what he or she wants.
Just looking at this list of potential dangers is more than enough to scare some people away from online dating for good.
But before you write this dating method off, know that there are millions of people who are safely dating online. Taking precautionary measures to protect yourself can make online dating safe and enjoyable.
Questions To Ask Online Dating Partners
Until you meet in person, you can never be sure of who you’re talking to. Asking questions can help you determine if your potential partner is lying about their identity or holding something back.
A few good questions to ask potential online dating partners include:
- What’s your name? Be sure to get your date’s first and last name.
- Where do you live? You don’t need an exact address (although that would be helpful), but find out what city and state he or she lives in.
- Have you ever been married, or are you currently married?
- What do you do for a living?
The first two questions are crucial, but the remaining two questions can help you dig up more information on your potential mate.
Safety Tips for Online Dating
Before you even agree to meet in person, it’s important to get to know and find out as much information as you can about your partner.
Here are some tips for online dating safety:
Look for Red Flags
If your partner has ulterior motives, there’s a good chance at least one of these red flags will pop up:
- Conflicting or limited information: If your partner is reluctant to tell you anything about themselves or provides you with conflicting information, run the other way. Make sure that you get the person’s full name and phone number before even considering meeting him or her in person.
- Limited time: Be wary of people who can only chat during certain times or days of the week. If they’re constantly busy, away or unable to rearrange their schedule to speak to you, something may be amiss.
- Moving too quickly: A whirlwind romance might seem romantic, but when it comes to online dating, moving too quickly can put your personal and financial security at risk. If potential partners are trying to move things along quickly and professing their love for you after just a few conversations, proceed with extreme caution. Also, be wary people who want to quickly move your conversations to messaging services outside the dating site.
- Talks about money: If your potential companion is talking about money or asking for loans in any way, shape or form, report the incident to the dating site and consider ending the relationship.
Use a Background Check Site
One of the best things that any online dater can do is perform background checks on all potential dates. In this day and age, you can never be too careful.
Performing a quick search of the person’s name may provide you with some information about him or her, but you won’t get the complete picture. To make matters worse, many predators are very good about hiding their tracks and ensuring that nothing is found when searching their name online.
A background check can provide you with:
- Marriage records to find out if partners are/were married and if they’re lying to you about their past.
- Criminal records to find out if you’re communicating with a felon or a sex offender.
- Current address to find out if partners are lying about where they’re from.
With a background check, you can find out if daters are actually who they say they are. From arrest records to traffic citations, address history and phone numbers, a personal background check will paint a true picture of any potential online date.
The Benefits of a Background Check
Think it’s wrong to perform a background check on potential dates? Think again.
Here are some of the benefits of paying for a background check.
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones
In today’s online dating world, it’s imperative to take the right steps to protect yourself physically and financially. A background check can help you do that. Now, you can find out if partners are:
- Hiding their criminal past from you
- Currently or were previously married
- Being truthful about where they live
- Hiding major financial troubles, like a foreclosure or civil judgement
Even if you don’t find anything particularly alarming on a partner’s background report, you can learn a great deal about him or her. If partners have had issues with foreclosures, tax liens or civil judgements, they may not be financially-stable or responsible, which could spell trouble for your relationship.
The bottom line is this: a background check allows you to verify your partner’s identity and confirm whether he or she was being truthful when revealing personal information. One simple check provides you with an extra layer of protection to safeguard your personal and financial security.