You may have seen the headlines. A woman filed a 10 million dollar lawsuit against Match.com. She met a man through the site, went on a few dates and ended it.
Months later, he broke into her home, waited in her garage and stabbed her 10 times in an attempt to kill her.
She was in the hospital for months with several painful reconstructive surgeries.
In her lawsuit against Match.com, she says the site doesn’t do enough to warn people, especially women, that users could be dangerous.
She claims the site promotes an illusion that it is facilitating healthy long-term relationships.
Match.com calls the lawsuit absurd.
Here is what is obvious.
No one is going to argue what this woman went through isn’t horrendous, terrifying and tragic.
Call me a hard nose, but I side with Match.com on this one. The lawsuit is ridiculous.
It is stories like this that give online dating the seedy, scary undertone it’s been fighting to overcome since its inception.
A study came out recently that said experts agreed the “stigma” of online dating was over. Whatever that meant.
But between this story and last week’s story on Manti Te’o, I am sure a lot of ignorant people have solidified some opinions against using online dating, afraid of the reality of who it is they are meeting.
“When first meeting someone, you need
to practice reasonable precautions.”
Here is why you shouldn’t be scared.
Considering online dating is my livelihood, do I have an interest in countering any argument against its usage? Sure.
But don’t let the source derail the validity of the points.
1. Online dating is just a catalyst.
Online dating isn’t your mom. It isn’t a matchmaker. And it certainly isn’t Big Brother.
You shouldn’t look to it to be your nanny or protector. Online dating introduces you to people you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. That’s it.
2. Evil will choose any avenue.
Sounds like George W. Bush line, but it’s true. Even if you pre-screen users with background checks, that doesn’t guarantee your safety. There is no “This person is a future psycho” predictor.
Some sites like True.com do offer the selling point all users are validated/background checked and are who they say they are.
Don’t let this lure you into a false feeling of security. The guy who attacked this woman had no prior record.
3. Don’t assume you know someone.
How many times have you seen the newscaster interview the friend of the crazy attacker and they say, “I had no idea he could do this. He seemed like the nicest person!”
Let’s take a look back at some notable and surprising killers:
- Ted Bundy: handsome, charming and very intelligent. A suicide hotline volunteer. That’s what a serial killer looks like?
- BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) Killer: “Happily married” with kids! President of his church and Boy Scout leader. That’s what a serial killer looks like?
- Robert Yates Jr.: Career Army man with several medals. Also a serial killer.
4. Everywhere is dangerous.
Let’s use the old “bar vs. online dating” argument.
Do you think one has more instances of date rape? Of violent occurrences?
I am not saying a bar is a bad place to meet someone. Lots of marriages and solid relationships have occurred between people who met in bars.
I am saying you need to be careful wherever you are. Unfortunately, this woman could have met this man at a peace rally with the same result.
5. You are responsible for you.
No one is looking out for you more than you, ever. When first meeting someone, you need to practice reasonable precautions.
There are a lot of easy things you can do when getting to know someone!
- Meet in public.
- Don’t give your last name.
- Don’t allow them to pick you up or drop you off.
- Don’t leave your drink unprotected.
- Call from a blocked number (*67 still works, folks).
- You can set up an alternate phone number through Google Voice that routes to your cell. I do it.
- Tell your friends where you are, who you’re with and about what time you’ll be home.
- Don’t go anywhere alone with someone new.
- Keep a code word to tell a trusted friend when you’ve made it back safely.
- Lock your doors.
- Don’t overindulge in alcohol.
None of this is meant to scare you, but if it informs you to the realities of life and leads you to take precautions, then this article has served its purpose.
Does all of this mean online dating is unsafe? It means it is neither safe nor unsafe.
Just like any part of life, there are no such things as guarantees.