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 online dating needs to be smart about their safety. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Do not use your landline for phonecalls until you are sure you want someone in your life.
- 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.
- 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.
Tags: Online dating, safety