Valuable Advice from an On-Line Dater

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In just the past one hundred years technology has made amazing advancements. Within that short period of time we’ve seen inventions like video games, microwaves, computers, digital music, smart phones, digital cameras, tablets, mp3 players, and the internet. With these technological advancements comes something very powerful: knowledge. As cheesy as it might sound, knowledge really is power.

I am an advocate for online dating; I think it’s a great way to meet people that you would otherwise never know. I’ve spoken about some of the positive aspects of online dating, how to pick the right site for you, how to make an awesome profile, how to pick the best pictures, and which sites you should probably avoid, but I have failed to mention the dangers of online dating and how to protect yourself. I know I promised you guys some pictures of messages I’ve gotten that are complete fails, but I recently had an awful experience that stemmed from meeting someone online. That story, as well as how to protect yourself needs to be shared.

About a week before Thanksgiving I met this wonderful guy (let’s call him D) on OkCupid. He and I immediately hit it off. We would text throughout the day and speak for hours on the phone each night. I learned a lot about him and thought he was a good guy; he is a Marine veteran, a chef at a fantastic restaurant, is very intelligent, loves to read, and could not be sweeter. After about a week of talking, we went out for dinner and I couldn’t have asked for a better date. A few days later D accompanied me to a bonfire at Lala’s house. Again, we had a great time, and all my friends loved him and as we were leaving told me that “he’s a keeper”. I thought my luck was finally changing. Another week went by, and normally around this time (or even sooner) guys that I go out with would usually disappear, but not D; he wanted to go out again, and of course I said “yes”.

I’m used to my experiences with men being epic fails. Everyone always lies and has hidden secrets, for example I went out with a guy who said he was divorced, but thanks to the internet (yay technology!)I found out that wasn’t true. Due to my past, I started thinking that D was too good to be true, so I Googled him. My search didn’t come up with anything, which is very unusual. Typically when you search someone’s name or screen name you’ll find some sort of social networking profile, maybe a blog, or a message board they post to. Something in my gut told me to dig deeper, so I did. I went to the Clerk of Court website for the county he lives in and searched his name; I found out that he goes by his middle name, is in fact divorced, doesn’t have any traffic infractions in that county, and that he is a registered sex offender. That’s right - a registered sex offender.

I was absolutely in shock. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. D solicited sex online from an undercover cop posing as a minor female. I went from being shocked, to disappointed, upset, angry, sad, and finally ended on hurt. I didn’t know what emotions to feel, and I didn’t know how to approach this, because I’d never been in the situation before. Ultimately, I sent D a text saying “I need to talk to you about something”. I’m not sure that I could have handled the situation in person or on the phone; I’m not great with confrontation and this was something that just couldn’t wait. D was immediately defensive and angry, which let me know that he was guilty, an innocent person wouldn’t act like that. He had the nerve to tell me that he could no longer trust me! He can’t trust me?! Um, excuse me mister, I’m not the one that failed to mention being on the list of registered sex offenders!

Needless to say, I am angry and no longer seeing D. I’m not even sure who to be angry with; I’m angry at D for withholding that information, I’m angry with the universe for every awful man it’s thrown my way, and I’m angry with myself for not knowing sooner. I know that eventually I’ll get over it, but this is going to be one tough hurdle.

Now that you know what made me feel the need to write this blog, I’ve got some online dating safety tips for you.

- Always trust your instinct. If someone you’re talking to gives you the creeps, don’t go out with them. Even if you can’t place your finger on it, there’s a reason you’re getting that feeling.

- Tell someone where you’re going. When I go on a date, even if I met the guy offline I tell someone who I’m with and where we are going. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

- Meet in a public place. Don’t go to someone’s house for a first date, because a) that’s just being stupid and b) it sends the message “Hey, I’m easy. Let’s do this”.

- Don’t give out your personal information. I don’t tell guys my last name until I’m comfortable with them and know they’re not a creeper. If we’ve sent several messages back and forth and I feel like it’s right, I will give them my number; you can easily block a phone number if things go wrong, but you can’t take back any information you’ve given.

- Don’t let your date pick you up at home. I like to meet my dates at our destination, that way if things don’t go well or I feel unsafe I have my own ride home.

- Carry pepper spray, mace, or a rape whistle on your keychain, and always pull your keys out before you reach your car. You’re not going to have time to dig your keys out of your purse in a situation that warrants the use of your pepper spray, mace, or rape whistle. You might think I’m going overboard with this suggestion, but there’s been one situation where I wished I had one of those things and didn’t.

My goal is not to scare anyone away from online dating, because I still think it’s a great tool. Just be safe, trust your instincts, and don’t do anything stupid.

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