Stop Trying To Scare People From Dating Online

I’ve read a number of articles lately that discuss whether or not to give your phone number out to someone you meet online. As usual, my head onlinedatinganonexploded because of all the special snowflaking and Stranger Dangering.

It’s very easy to get caught up in all of the warnings and horror stories. But it’s important to take all of the bad things and complaints you hear with a grain of salt. More often than not, the people complaining either aren’t telling the whole story, are trying to brag or have some pretty serious emotional or psychological issues. For example, I was reading a comment over at xoJane recently that was written in response to these helpful online dating safety tips.

In the comments, a woman shared that she asks all of the men she meets online to take a picture of their driver’s license and send it to her before she agrees to meet them. When I asked how many of the men obliged her request she said, “Every. single. one.” Let’s suspend our disbelief for a moment and assume this is the truth. How desperate do you think these men must be to open themselves up to possible stalking? Because, like, men get stalked too. (Though, let’s be honest, women are far more at risk when it comes to possible physical harm.) If someone were to ask you for such private information – someone you’ve never met – would you do it? Probably not. But it sure makes you sound in demand and special to say that everybody bends to your whim, doesn’t it? Exactly. If someone I met online asked me for such information, I would immediately categorize them as shady or exceptionally paranoid. Sorry not sorry, but I’m not interested in playing nursemaid to someone.

Then there’s this woman who is weirdly proud of the fact that she “tricks” men into giving her their license. Apparently she creates a fake license with a fake identity so that she can give it to them in order to get them to show her theirs. Then she runs to the bathroom and copies down all their info and rushes home to do a background check. Because that’s what normal, stable people do, amirite?

The majority of the Chicken Littles who run around warning everybody about online dating safety and share their scary stories and offer “helpful tips” on how to avoid “the creeps” fall into these categories:

1. The have no luck dating online - The author of this article repeatedly writes about her bad luck trying to date online. She even wrote the cliched piece about how she’s taking a break from online dating because she’s just so fatigued by all the douchebags she meets. That, in and of itself, should be considered a red flag. Sorry, but online dating just isn’t as hard as she has depicted. It’s not. There’s something going on with her that is getting in the way. I don’t know what it is, but I do know that it goes beyond bad luck.

2. They don’t know their audience – We’ve talked before about all the Google Pros who dig 8 pages deep in the search results because “something wasn’t right” about their date. All you need to know is that something isn’t right. You don’t need to know what it is. I would guess in the majority of those cases, those people were batting spectacularly out of their league. That, more than anything else, is what has triggered that person’s suspicions. Why is this person interested in me? Yes, why is that person interested in you? That’s what you need to determine in order to break the cycle. What are these people seeing in you that makes them think they can get one past you? Trust your judgment and listen to it.

2. They are manipulating the factsThis author is constantly telling people how to avoid all the catfishes and creeps and guys just looking for sex, yet seems to consistently find herself involved with them. It’s fun to write about all the people you reject because it makes you sound so worldly and desirable, but eventually people catch on and realize that maybe they aren’t getting the whole story.

3. They have bad judgment/bad taste in the opposite sex - Oh, so you have kids at home and you still chose to ignore all of the red flags that the guy from hundreds of miles away exhibited? Okay. Yeah. He’s the only bad guy.

4. They’re atypically paranoid, possibly unwell, or hiding something themselves- It’s always smart to be cautious, but taking it to extremes indicates deeper issues. As I have always said, if somebody wants to find or contact you, they will. That’s why I don’t bother taking extreme measures to make myself impossible to find. Somebody who does that does that for a reason, and it isn’t security. As I mentioned to the author of this article, who said that she writes online under an alias but posts photos of herself, there’s no hiding anymore for anybody. Not sure what she thinks she’s accomplishing by being so mysterious with her photos and pen names, but it all adds up to me thinking she’s hiding something. Ironic, right? But that’s what happens when people encounter someone who seem so risk averse that they create obstacles in order to prevent people from knowing who they are. Burner phones and anonymous email addresses and fake licenses all scream paranoid/unstable or special snowflake to me. There are always going to be those rare bad apples that make a nuisance of themselves. Welcome to the internet circa 2013. Thinking you can avoid them completely or that you can keep your true identity shrouded in a cloak of mystery (especially if you write online)  is naive, annoying and a little unsettling in today’s day and age.

What the majority of these people really want to do is scare you from trying to meet someone online. Don’t listen to them. Learn to trust your own judgment, take the necessary precautions like meeting in a public place, know your audience and options, and you’ll be okay.

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25 Responses to “Stop Trying To Scare People From Dating Online”

  1. Sherry Says:

    I’ve been on many dates with numerous men I’ve met through a popular online dating site. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even care to know the guy’s last name unless things progress beyond a third date and/or intimacy is involved.

    Some people are a little too paranoid. These same folks need to relax, have some fun and enjoy their dates.

  2. C Says:

    I don’t know. If this woman needs to fingerprint and DNA test her dates to feel comfortable, more power to her. On the other hand, if my friend feels comfortable hooking up with stoned guys in a bath house, that’s his call too. Everyone has individual rules in terms of safety and comfort and while hers sound extreme she obviously has a sympathetic audience which feels similarly. I doubt she is doing it to puff up her ego. Its all crazy, nut-so, ego driven crazy talk until she gets married to one of these dudes.

  3. jane Says:

    I think there is a happy medium here. I definitely think this woman is going overboard with security but I also dont think you can be nonchalant about safety and/or protection as a woman meeting people online. This is why I prefer to talk a little more to a guy before meeting him and usually I like to see his Facebook profile which reassures me that he has friends/family,hes well liked and likely isnt TOO crazy. I’ll admit, I would have a lot of hesitancy about meeting someone from online without knowing their full name or a few details about them, and then there are the regular precautions like meeting in a public place, arriving with your own transport etc.

    • C Says:

      Its all kind of individual. When I was doing online dating, I was like Sherry. I couldn’t care less about personal info on the guy until we met and got to know each other a little. Most online dates are normal guys but there’s little chemistry with most of them so I never wanted to invest a lot of effort in advance of meeting them. In terms of safety management, we met in a public place with our own transportation to the venue and they never saw my apartment until they had been “properly” vetted. However, iI dont know how safe I really was if any of the guys were predators. I doubt I’d sense a guy is a predator within a few hours of meeting him unless he is really ineffective.

    • Eliza Says:

      People can create false identities by the way…and yes, false facebook profiles too. The point being made on this blog is that, no matter how careful and how much scrutiny a person may enlist, there are NO guarantees the person you meet online – or OFF line for that matter is actually being honest. Only time will eventually shed light on the truth. Not to say one should have their eyes/ears closed. But if you are that unsure and scared about the outside world/dating, perhaps you are not truly ready to dive in, you need a thick skin, and to give people the benefit of the doubt (within reason). it’s so simple, don’t give out your last name, home address, or discuss private info. at the very beginning and meet at a public place – get their on your own. Nothing to complicated about that motto.

      • Auslander Says:

        But if you go on a first date with the objective of “not discussing private info,” what the heck are you going to talk about?

    • Sherry Says:

      Although I have a Facebook account, I wouldn’t discredit a guy for having a low-activity FB account (or none at all).

      Facebook can be a time-waster. Some smart men know this, so they are out living their lives and making things happen rather than pretending to have a life through Facebook and other social media websites.

      • jane Says:

        I know this blog is predominantly for an older audience. I think that might be part of the opposition here. Im in my mid twenties, Facebook is a lot more common as is texting and other forms of communication, that maybe isnt such a widespread thing if you’re a decade+ older.

        • Speed Says:

          Jane, the issue is not social media/digital communication. There are plenty of people at +65 involved in that, with Facebook pages, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, etc. Do you think everyone who works at Google or Microsoft is under 30?

          You’re getting all the thumbs-downs because you’re repeatedly saying how you like to waste guys’ time in online dating, engaging them in conversation without any intention to meet, trying to “screen” them intensively though interrogation, etc.

          I don’t think 20-something guys appreciate this any more than us old folks. There’s a Korean proverb, “Good medicine tastes bitter.” That’s how knowledge–real knowledge-feels. You can take some of the knowledge here or you can get ready for a life of solitude and/or multiple “XOJane”-type catastrophes.

        • Julie Says:

          Actually, a lot of tech sources are saying that Instagram, twitter and youtube are much more popular with the younger crowd while Facebook is quickly becoming your grandmothers social networking tool.

          Matter of fact, everyone has very quickly adapted to social media and the newer forms of communication. I’ve encountered plenty of 30, 40 and 50-something year old men who prefer to text me when we are dating rather than call.

          The problem with vetting out potential dates using something like Facebook is that arguably, it wont make you safer. The BTK killer had a wife, Ted Bundy was well liked as a teenager and had a long term college girlfriend. Seeing pictures of friends and family will weed out the socially inept, not the predators. I get that you probably want to weed out the socially inept as well, but that wont make you safe.

    • Andrew Says:

      I’m sorry but I suggest seeing this from the mans point of view. You sound like someone who who’s too much work which would make me say “next.”

  4. D. Says:

    It seems like much ado about probably nothing. I recognize that women likely face a much greater risk of harm in meeting a stranger than men, but I don’t think that the online context necessarily increases that potential to any noticeable degree. A guy can lie just as much in person as online.

    I’d say the real trick is in developing one’s own sense of self-confidence about dating online, and in learning to spot tells from the wackos or liars or time-wasters.

    But stuff like “I ALWAYS get their phone number, a copy of their long-form birth certificate, a full three-in-one credit report, and a letter of recommendation from the Pope” to me speaks more to someone’s discomfort with the medium than anything else. If you’re finding yourself making people jump through incredible hoops to date you…maybe you don’t really want to date that much.

    I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and agree to a date with “HockeyMasksnBlood13″ who showcases his wide collection of firearms and bladed weapons in his primary pic, but I’d probably think someone had trust issues if they demanded to see a copy of my drivers’ license on date 1. Certainly out of context and/or confrontationally.

    And as for things like “I NEVER give out my phone number” and such….why not? I mean, assuming most people have cell phones, what exactly is this obvious psychopath going to do with your number? He’s probably just gonna be more of an annoyance than anything else, in which case, just block his number and be done with it.

    I dunno. I just think all the hand-wringing is more indicative of people who generally FEEL threatened, rather than people who are ACTUALLY threatened. In which case…don’t date. You’re probably not in the right place emotionally to make anything satisfying happen.

  5. LostSailor Says:

    I generally try to avoid dating paranoid women. It seldom turns out well.

    As for the XOJ article (and why is the author wearing a head lamp? Is that some sort of security device? Blind your date so he can remember you?) and especially the commenter who is a “proud misanthrope” why is she even dating anyway? She uses a fake license, why would she even consider that a man might as well. Hmmm. That gives me an idea…

    Meeting for a first date only for breakfast or coffee? No “night-time” dates until she’s met a man in public for three months? It’s not the guys looking to “harm” her that won’t wait that long, it’s any sane man. A guy who will date her under these rules is far more likely to be either desperate or dangerous or both. Seems like a recipe for harm rather than a safety tip. Fake license, burning phone for dating, criminal background checks on every date? Sounds like a real keeper.

    If a woman asked me to send a photo of my license in advance, I would politely decline and then block her profile. If a woman asked to see my license on a date, I’d just give her a strange look. The guise of making a joke out laughing at the photos is kind of stupid and transparent.

    Being safety conscious is a good thing in all circumstances, not just dating, let someone know where you’re going, meet in public, etc. are all good ideas. But this level of paranoia definitely points to being unstable. If you don’t want to date me because I won’t jump through your paranoid hoops, that’s fine, because I don’t want to date anyone with paranoid hoops.

    • D. Says:

      Yeah, I tend to think that people who create these elaborate up-front tests really just don’t actually want to date, but can’t admit that to themselves. Any time you see someone erecting major barriers to their own happiness, or setting the bar so high that basically only comic book superheroes and Greek demi-gods can clear it, you’re looking at someone who is single by choice.

    • Eliza Says:

      Besides, a woman OR man that is this paranoid points to a person that is way too mistrusting of people they have yet to meet…not good. Being too naive, or being too cynical is only detrimental, and is the very cause of others “mistrusting” you. They say, the thief usually rides at the back of the train – to keep an eye on everyone. A person this paranoid of others’ intentions only get in their own way and create hurdles that are not there, and are usually viewed as eccentric and extreme…both negative. I had someone tell me about some stupid “ping” number used to get in touch with others–just so your “real cell number” doesn’t appear…how absurd that one would take such measures. If the person turns out to be inappropriate–just block their number. Done. resolved. No need to create morris code!

  6. Matt Says:

    Our instincts (as men) always will tell us if the women are asking for too much background information. When I was less confident with online dating, I obliged these ridiculous requests. Even a phone call before the date, when done in certain ways, can convey a woman’s anxiety or neuroticism.

    As I gained more experience, I realized that all — 100% of the women who came across as having hesitancy in meeting me — all led to dead ends in the dating process for one reason or another.

    If any man sees those warning signs, I suggest ignoring the woman and moving on, no matter how hot she may appear. The only reason guys oblige is because they are desperate themselves. This fulfills a cycle where these anxious women are paired with desperate guys.

    • Andrew Says:

      “When I was less confident with online dating, I obliged these ridiculous requests. Even a phone call before the date, when done in certain ways, can convey a woman’s anxiety or neuroticism.”

      “As I gained more experience, I realized that all — 100% of the women who came across as having hesitancy in meeting me — all led to dead ends in the dating process for one reason or another.”

      You hit the nail on the head. As men become more confident in online dating, they’re less likely to but up with this kind of nonsense. After all, there are far too many normal women out there that would never make us jump through hoops like this.

      Live and learn.

  7. Jonathon Factory Says:

    Because that time you gave your number to that guy you met in that bar at 1 AM was totally legit and completely vetted because he was, like, really hot.

  8. Howard Says:

    Women have gotten so picky online. They pick and they pick and end up picking shit. Normal people have chinks in their armor. Perfect people are excellent presenters, and that’s a nice word for them. The words that better describe those perfect people are, players, manipulators and potential controllers,

    When anything is too perfect, beware. There is missing information. I would rather know really early which devil I am dealing with. We all have a devil we can handle. Maybe I can handle a little vanity or lateness or a little extra weight, but not a little catty nor manipulative.

    People who have problems dating online, have no sense of reality. As hard as it is, we have to deal with, where we stand in the world of dating economics. When we accept that, it is actually easier to bat out our league. Facing our limitations head -on, allows us to compensate for our weaknesses very effectively.

    These people who have problems dating online, either think they are perfect, or imagine whatever imperfection they have, should be easily accepted by others. Now, we know that they don’t accept the imperfections of others easily, so it’s laughable that they feel this way about their imperfections.

    • C Says:

      I Like most of your comments but have to disagree here a bit. Who are “these women”? Most of the folks I know have online dated at some point. And at one point or another, everyone hits a dry spell, or a bad streak or even a crazy streak. At such times its easy to find yourself asking, “why me?” I’M sure there are women out there who think no one short of Ryan Gosling is good enough. But I’m sure there’s also the handful of men who think nothing short of Magen Fox will do when they themselves have little to offer too.

      online dating is problematic. You are forced to make decisions on very limited information with the weight of the decision being heavily placed on how well he photographs much more so than would be the case in real life where you can judge a guy for how he carries himself, speaks, how he looks at you, flirts, his voice, his confidence level, etc… In all honesty, I dont know that I would have gone out with my current boyfriend had I encountered him online. His profile sucked, he doesn’t photograph well and his write up sounded like every other guy (me and a girlfriend helped him fix up his profile a few months before he and I started dating). Having met him at work, I couldnt have been hotter for a guy.

      • Howard Says:

        We hit even bigger dry spells in real life. Online dry spells online easily fixed by switching to another online site. There
        are hundreds of them.

        When we meet someone, we have even less information in person than online. When we meet someone in person, we don’t know their age, martial status, astrological sign, number of children they have, education level and any of that stuff. Online we get all of that in an instant.

        This luxury is exactly the genesis of the problem online. Women, in fact, get too much information and they really seem to get confused by it all.

        The reason you would not have picked your boyfriend online, is because of the higher bar you have set for online dating. Your story speaks volumes, and pretty much reiterates what I have been saying about women being too picky online.

        • noquay Says:

          I dunno Howard; I think not being “picky” and settling for someone you really do not want is unfair to both parties. One cannot force oneself to fall in love with or even be attracted to someone when you are not. True, on line doesn’t work for everyone. In my age group, one sees pretty much the same guy, different location. Same income and educational levels, height, build, hobbies which is peachy if they work for you, not so good if they don’t. Ideally, meeting IRL, especially if it can happen in your own town is the best choice. You can read nonverbals, use commin sense if somethings off. You can find out specifics, good and bad, of a person by asking others in the community if they are active in the community, have a circle of friends etc. Social proof. I found that a dude here that hit on me repeatedly had two pending domestic violence charges against him; also really good info. In person, you often cannot hide who you are, what you’ve done. Yes, on line is great because the numbers of men are much higher, but it’s really easy to hide or lie about all sorts of things though you get caught eventually. Kind of a “buyer beware” situation.

  9. noquay Says:

    Like I stated in an earlier post, a true psycho is really good at what he/she does and won’t be sussed out by the average person. One has to develop a good set of Spidey senses, some common sense, and a little self defense training wouldn’t be amiss. People take time to unfold, there’s no shortcut; you are gonna have to put in the time and often it ain’t gonna work because you’re incompatible. On line is the only option for those of us in remote mountain towns. Our target audience is 100 miles away and yep, not all of us will be able to meet someone compatible on line. I think it works well for more mainstream types living closer to population center. I never do well on line but I am very educated, obviously mixed race, a serious athlete and dedicated environmentalist AND am in my 50s. My only hope is to find someone like a retired academic looking to bail out of the rat race or someone in town for our summer races that wants to stay and isn’t hiding a wife/girlfriend. However, for a 30 something that lives in the city or burbs who is into more mainstream stuff, on line probably is great.

  10. Grizzly Says:

    #3–I think the woman was pretty gullible here. C’mon, does anybody really think that the lead guitarist in a successful rock band would be interested in an overweight single mom?

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