The Dangers of Online Dating  by@turbulence

The Dangers of Online Dating 

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This article discusses the dangers of online dating, ranks US states according to their safety for online dating, and discusses ways to be safer when dating online.

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@turbulence

Amy Pravin Shah

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“I met someone online, and we met at a coffee shop for a date. Immediately after we got our coffee, he tried to get me into his car.  He said, “Why don’t we warm up in my car?” I said “‘No, I feel uncomfortable with that.’ He kept trying to find ways to get me into his car throughout the date and finally I was just, like, bye!” 

- An online dating experience relayed by a woman

According to the Pew Research Center,“about a quarter of Americans (23%) say they have gone on a date with someone they first met through a dating site or app.” According to a survey conducted in 2019, “Three in ten U.S. adults say they have used an online dating site or app – including 11% who have done so in the past year.” With the COVID-19 Pandemic, these numbers had significantly increased.

According to this Fortune article,“In March 2020, Tinder recorded its highest number of swipes on a single day: 3 billion. From March to May 2020, OkCupid saw a 700% increase in dates.” Like it or not, online dating is part of current and future trends. It may be the way we do things now, but it does not come without risks. This piece discusses the dangers of online dating and what you can do about them.  

How Dangerous is Online Dating?

According to an article done by Backgroundchecks.org, online dating may not be a good experience for some. It can be dangerous. Predators can troll online dating sites looking for victims. 10 percent of sex offenders use dating sites and 10 percent of users on free dating apps are scammers. Sexual assaults linked to online dating have increased. 

How do US states rank in terms of safety?

This article about online dating from backgroundchecks.org highlighted some research about the dangers of online dating in different US states. They crunched data from public records and used 6 variables to compute a danger index of online dating. They then compared all the US states that had available data to find the least and most dangerous states for online dating.

The data is from 2017 and 2018. Of the 6 variables, 4 of the variables were combined into 1 variable called romance fraud while 2 other variables were: sexual assault crime statistics by state, sexually transmitted disease prevalence by state. The researchers assigned equal weights to these variables and computed a weighted average score for each state. The higher the danger score, the more dangerous it is. The article indicates that Iowa and D.C. were excluded due to missing data

The most dangerous states were those in which online dating might lead to getting scammed or lied to, or being physically harmed. The results from their study were that Alaska is the most dangerous state for online dating.  The reasons for this were that there was a high rate of romance fraud. There were 85 reported cases of romance fraud in 2018. In Alaska, people lost an estimated $1M to online dating scams at that time. 

The least dangerous state was Vermont, as it had the lowest danger score. Vermont reported just 25 cases of online fraud in 2018  and losses from dating scams that were under $130,000. 

Backgroundchecks.org mentioned that the states with the highest rates of being scammed, lied to or physically harmed while online dating were: 

  1. Alaska 
  2. Nevada 
  3. California 
  4. Florida 
  5. Colorado

The top 5 safest states for online dating were those where it was less likely for someone to be scammed, lied to or physically harmed according to the data. 

  1. Vermont 
  2. West Virginia 
  3. Montana 
  4. New Hampshire 
  5. Maine 
Though this research is helpful to know, much of the online dating landscape has possibly changed due to the surge in online dating during the Pandemic. This research information may need to be taken with reservation.   

Ways to be safer while dating online

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While online dating can be fun and possibly lead to an enriching relationship, remember to put your safety first to avoid the dangers of dating online. 

Backgroundchecks.org also advises some tips to stay safe while dating online: 

  • Run a google search on your date.  Search by image and see if a person's image is attached to multiple identities.  If it is, then the date is likely a scam. 
  • Get a google voice number so that you do not have to give out your personal cell number.
  • Run a background check before meeting someone. You can run a background check on backgroundchecks.org. 
  • Meet in a public space. Don't give out your address.
  • Don’t drink a pre-ordered drink. If you arrive at a bar for a date and there is already a drink waiting for you, it's a big red flag.
  • Order your own drinks and watch them being delivered.
  • Have a bailout plan. Let a friend know where you are if you go on a date. Create a code word with a friend as an escape plan.
  • Drive separately even if you are making multiple stops like from a restaurant to a movie theater. Riding together should wait until a relationship is established.
  • Trust your gut. Don't ignore a bad feeling just to be polite. Safety is more important than good manners and should be your top priority. 

Protect yourself, but don’t give up on love 

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Though it's wise to be careful, don’t be discouraged by the dangers of online dating. Lea Rose Emery wrote in 2017 “I went to a wedding last year where the couple met on Tinder, I'm going to one this year where the couple met on OkCupid.

Hell, I met my girlfriend on Tinder and we've been together over a year and a half now. It may not be the way that people our age dreamed of meeting someone when we were kids, but now virtually everyone I know is on dating apps — and that's totally great!

Sure, dating apps aren't perfect, but they do give you the opportunity to be exposed to a bigger pool of people.” Like anything worthwhile, online dating can have its drawbacks, but with safety precautions you can avoid the dangers of online dating. 

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