Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Better Safe than Sorry

A few years ago I had something pretty scary happen.  I went out with some guy I met online (a few times, maybe 2 or 3) and I decided I didn’t want to see him anymore.  The next time he called me for a date I told him that I wasn’t interested in seeing him again.  I was very polite about it.  I thought he took it well and that I’d never hear from him again.

Wrong.  About a week later I started to get emails from him.  Really nasty emails.  I couldn’t figure out what he was after, as the emails were incredibly insulting but then he would express a desire to see me again.  The theme seemed to be, “You are pathetic but you have potential.  If you date me you’ll get to realize that potential.  You should start to date me again.”  I ignored them for a while and then they started to get nastier. And angrier. I started to get scared.

I was dating someone else at this point (I didn’t tell the nasty email writer that the reason I didn’t want to see him anymore was because I’d met someone else, as that wasn’t the whole truth.  I just didn’t like him that much.) I told the guy I was dating about it and he suggested that I tell the evil email writer I had a boyfriend.  He thought it would get him to back off (he actually offered to intercede on my behalf, but I didn’t want/need that, though I admit it was comforting).

So I did. And he did.  My having another man in my life was enough to keep him from bothering me anymore.  Silly, huh?

There is a point to this story.  It’s a big, bad scary world out there.  I could just as easily have met the evil email writer at a party as online.  That being said, anyone who is venturing into the world of needs to be smart about their .  You are about to expose yourself to a whole heck of a lot of strangers and you should be in tight control of the level of that exposure.

Here are my suggestions  (not revolutionary, and yes you can find them other places, too) for being a safe and sane online dater.

  1. Make sure you have an email account that is set up expressly for the purposes of online dating.  You can also use this account for online shopping, if you want.  Do not have this account traceable to you in any way.  Do not use your last name on the account.
  2. Do not give your last name out if you are google-able.  Not everybody is, but most people are.  You do not want people to know your place of employment until your are ready to disclose that information.
  3. Do not use your landline for phonecalls until you are sure you want someone in your life.
  4. Do not let someone walk (for us city girls) or drive you home from a first date or pick you up for a first date.  Yes, I know some people have sex on the first date and I am not being judgmental about that (I’m not saying I’ve never done it).  I’m suggesting you be smart.  This is a person you just met.  You probably have no friends or acquaintances in common.  You have no way of knowing if anything they’ve said about themselves is true or not.  Be smart.  Take some time to get to know one another before you let them near your home.  Some people are really great liars.
  5. Do not share any other information that will allow potential suitors/stalkers to trace you, whether that be blogs, Twitter info, Facebook, etc.  This may seem harsh, but there is plenty of time to share this info in the future, once you reach an appropriate level of trust.

I am not one of those people who is going to tell you to do background checks.  I happen to think that that’s pretty extreme.  I will google a person and check out their Facebook, LinkedIn, etc and make sure that everything they’ve said about themselves rings true.  But beyond that I go with my gut.  Yeah, sometimes I’m wrong but I’m comfortable with this level of precaution.

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9 to “Better Safe than Sorry”

  1. lorilori17 says:

    I’d add another tip: If you feel uneasy or afraid, don’t ignore it! Give your intuition a little credit :)

  2. SINgleGIRL says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Great advice!

  3. Singlegal says:

    I had a similar experience like this when I first started dating. The guy actually cried – CRIED – when I told him this wasn’t going to happen. We had gone on TWO dates and known each other a little more than week. He proceeded to continue to contact me through other avenues (IM, etc). This is when I learned the important of your first rule – have an account of your own for dating, and don’t have it in any way associated with your real name (mine didn’t, thank god). Anyway, keep bloggin’!

  4. starangel82 says:

    Good post and good advice…. especially about the separate email. I learned that one the hard way myself. I gave out my ‘use all the time’ email for a while. I talked to the one guy, but after conversation realized I wasn’t interested. So the guy found my Facebook and MySpace. Fortunately, I had all my profiles set to private, but he emailed me and mentioned things about my profile pictures. Then he sent me another email saying he would hack into my email account if he had to in order to learn more about me. I finally reported him to the dating site, pulled everything out of my email account, and got a new one. It had me spooked for a while.

  5. Hammer86 says:

    It’s funny because I use facebook to screen people specifically for this. Granted it’s different in my age demographic, since people are linked to high schools and colleges that they went to and have pictures dating back 4+ years on the site, but it essentially ensures that the person I am meeting is who she says she is. It also lets me scope out her most recent pictures so I know if she’s misrepresenting herself.

  6. ZJapan says:

    Comments from a guy:

    Some guys cannot take a hint it is a shame. Or a direct statement that is completely true.

    Although what you see on my networks is what you get I think a lot of people are not so honest about their real life. So looking at someones networks may not tell you much of the real story. Then again I suppose it could.

    I would add to your safety list to let someone know where you are going. If plans change you can of course send a text to update your good friend. They may find out you got lucky this way but then you would probably told them anyway.

  7. 20forty says:

    Nicely done. Very good advice. You definitely have to pay attention to your gut and pay attention to anything that doesn’t seem quite right.

  8. bobbyjensen says:

    Good tips for sure! Common sense and listening to your gut are most important.

  9. SINgleGIRL says:

    OMG, he cried? I don’t know if I would’ve been able to keep myself from laughing. That must have felt so awkward and creepy. Thanks for the support.
    Thanks darling. You bring up something important here, something I don’t really think of because I’m old and don’t belong to the Facebook generation. If you are online dating it is probably a good idea to have this stuff set to private. Again, it’s about controlling access.
    Yes, well I am not on Facebook nor are many of the men I date. They are much more likely to be on LinkedIn w/o pics. There is a major generational gap in how online social media is used. Viva la gap. I enjoy my privacy.
    Good point. I don’t do this because I live in NYC and meet men at bars/restaurants, leave seperately and don’t get into cars with them. But I have a friend who dates in the burbs and she feels less safe than I do for fear of getting attacked in a parking lot, etc. She always lets someone know where she is.
    -20forty(lisaQ) and bobbyjensen-
    Thanks guys, as always.