Apr 302008


I’m single, therefore I date. Sometimes, I date online. I have a Nerve Personals account. (I boycotted eHarmony on principle because I thought they were anti-gay and had a limited view of who’s an acceptable smooching partner.) I’ve also tried Match, Lavalife, Salon and others. Anyway, after years of trial and error, I’ve gained a few insights and charted my own rules of the road when it comes to internet hookups and boyfriend hunting. A couple of you emailed me to ask, basically, “What are some safety tips for online dating sites?” I can’t say what works for everyone; here are five points that work for me:

  1. I ignore guys who don’t post photos. Here’s a scenario: I post a pic. The guy doesn’t, but he still emails me and expects me to contact him. Maybe he’s ugly? Maybe he’s married or dating and doesn’t want to run the risk of being “discovered” online? Whatever the case, I’m not contacting him. Internet dating is already shady enough. Who needs random, faceless strangers?
  2. I always go with my gut. Can’t really explain this one any more than that. Basically, if I get the feeling that something is off or not quite right about a guy, I trust my intuition.
  3. I perform background checks. Facebook, MySpace, Uber, LinkedIn and every other social networking site (and blogs!) are making the small world even smaller. I google the shit out of everyone I date. If someone’s legit, their name, alias, or email address has an online trail somewhere. So, if I do a search and nothing comes up, I take it as a sign that the guy keeps his online persona completely separate from his offline life. Translation: he may be hiding something.
  4. I stay really vague. I don’t really owe the guys that I meet online anything up front. If I don’t wanna give up personal information, I don’t. I’m a pro at two things in this area: (a) dodging questions from strangers and (b) kindly telling people when they’ve overstepped my boundaries:
  5. DUDE: So, where do you live?
    ME: I’m in the city. How about you?
    DUDE: I live in Brooklyn. I used to live in Williamsburg, but then I moved to Fort Greene. Hey, I once saw Rosie Perez walking her dog. That was cool. Anyway, so, I moved again and now I’m over on the other end of Flatbush. I live at 200 Eastern Parkway now. Great area … Wait, where did you say you live?
    ME: [smiles, touches dude’s knee under the table] I didn’t.

  6. I assume every first online date is a serial killer until they prove themselves differently. Would I meet a serial killer alone in his home? No. Would I tell a serial killer where I worked and lived? Nuh-uh. Would I get into a car alone with a serial killer? No. You get the point. I try to temper Point #5 with Points #2 and #3 so that I don’t come across as I paranoid freakshow. (One could argue that I still come across as a paranoid freakshow anyway. But, that’s fine. I’m okay with that.)

So, that’s all sweeties. How about the rest of you? How often have you dated online? Do you have any additional points, suggestions, advice or funny stories that you’d like to add? If so, stick ‘em in the comments section.

Photo credit: Image of lovely, dovey frogs is from Bruno Sersocima in Goiânia, Goias, Brazil.

  16 Responses to “How I Date Safely Online”

  1. Hey there…

    Ah yes, the days of internet dating – prior to meeting my girlfriend I was all over that stuff… Lava, Match, Craiglist… all without too much success.

    But the key for me was meeting somewhere public…and I also stopped identifying myself by what I’d be wearing at the coffee shop ie. “the dude in the red shirt” because there was one date where I would have RUN away if I had been able to.

    Good luck!

  2. loved it! thanks ;)

    i’ll remember it if i get a real date. i’m still looking at profiles and photos, sendind a few messages. we’ll see.

    it’s kind a weird, but a lot of guys my age, at the website i use (i think it’s the most famous), don’t post their pictures. old folks, ALL have pictures. lol but know i know better. no picture from him, no attention from me.

    and really creeps me out that most of the guys who look at my profile and gives me a compliment (an option that exists) are a lot older. i mean, i’m almost 24. 30 is my limit. above 35 is completely out of the question!

  3. You *should* be paranoid when meeting someone online. You should be almost as paranoid when meeting someone at a bar or in the supermarket, though. Your “assume he’s a serial killer” rule applies regardless of how you meet.

    Background checking can be effective if the person has a “googlable” name, but if it’s a very common mane you’ll have a whole lot more difficulty.

    I understand why you won’t interact without a photo. This did not apply to me, though – Mrs. Doodlius did not have one posted before we met. Maybe it’s different for chicks.

    I could make a commnet about “googling the shit out of someone”, but I’ll spare everyone the visual.

  4. If people really want to find out more info about someone before a date, check out one of those people-search sites like http://www.spock.com. All the info from google, linked in, myspace, etc all on one page!

  5. I lurk them on Facebook, haha. (This comes after screening through the guys with no photos, the guys who are over 30 – I’m 23 – and the guys with whom there has been some messaging contact, but have failed because a)they’re insanely boring b) too pushy c)obviously not someone I’d want to date, or d) really, REALLY bad spellers. Such a turnoff.)

    Some will ask if I’ve had any online dating horror stories – and I’m pleased to say I don’t, cause I’m super careful, and anyone who might remotely end as a horror story doesn’t make it to the meeting stage.

    Go team Background Checks!

  6. I met two guys live who I first had contact with on Match. I figured that was the whole point. If I wanted to mess around on the internet all day, I can do that without a dating site. So, I arranged meetings with men whom I found at least mildly interesting, always in public places and letting plenty of my friends know where I’d be and what time to expect me to call them after the dates. Neither date was “successful,” meaning neither led to another date, but, thank goodness, fate intervened, and I didn’t have to continue. “Mr. Pegs” was waiting for me at a random meeting in a bar. And the rest is history.

  7. Oh, and Kristal is right. Bad spelling is a huge turnoff.

  8. I have been on and off with Match for about 6 months. I have actually met up with two guys, one of which I dated for a while and lost interest and the other just wasn’t that into me. Still keeping the faith though, however I’m hoping that some charming, cute, sarcastic boy will run into me at the grocery store so I won’t have to devulge the Match meeting. :)

    P.S. FunkyBrown, I am friends with Karen from Chicago (now Houston). Love her!

  9. @ Mitch: OMG, I think I remember reading about that date!!! :)

    @ Carolina Pereira: Yeah, 24 to 35 is a pretty big age gap when date. I think age gaps matter more when we’re younger. For example, there’s a much bigger difference between 18 to 28 than there it between 28 to 38 and 38 and 48.

    @ Baba Doodlius: Oooh, very good point! :) I’m cautious online AND offline. :) However, for better or worse, I give a bit more leeway to the offline guys that I meet via friends or other acquaintances. Oh, and, thanks for sparing us the visual on that one. :)

    @ Ivory: Yeah, my friend Error Boy told me about spock. I hadn’t heard of it before then.

    @ Kristal: Yeah, I allll about the background checks! :)

    @ Pegs: Honey, I’m so happy for your and your family!! :) Man, I remember our days of bitching about the dating scene in Chicago. Now, you’ve got the whole Mr. Pegs and Baby Pegs thing going on. It’s crazy how much life changes in such a short amount of time. I must be getting older! :)

    @ Mary A: I met one of my ex-boythings in Chicago on Match. He was HOT, funny, interesting, gainfully employed, etc. I’ve written about him a bunch on here, but I’m not gonna link it up. (He reads the blog now, so that would be kinda weird.) Grocery stores, bookstores and other “lingering” spaces are good places to find dates. And, ooooooh, I think it’s GREAT you’re friends with Karen too. I LOVE her!!! LOVE her!! :)

  10. Sorry, Joel. I moderated your comment. :| Dude, you **WORK** there!! That comment soooooo counts as a complete and total advertisement. The are only two ground rules at the FBC …

    #1. Be nice on the blog.

    #2. No self-promotion. Advertising your own business, of course, counts as self promotion. I’m all about pimping out people’s shows, businesses, products, etc if it’s something I think will be of interest the folks who stop by the FBC. But, that’s not what the comments section is for. If you’ve got a biz that you think the FBC readers will love, feel free to email me directly at funkybrownchick@yahoo.com for details.

  11. [...] the full list here. Post Comment     Related: [...]

  12. Thanks for the link back!! :)

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  14. I love Boinkology! Thanks for the link!! :)

  15. Hey, is there a section just for latest news

  16. As others have said, always arrange to meet in a public place. Let someone else know where you're going to be, and give that person a call when you get home. My experiences are mostly with meeting people with no expectation that it is a date as I've never used a dating website (but I do meet people as possible friends). One thing I like to do is arrange to do something which won't take very long (such as meeting for lunch or coffee) so that I can leave quickly if I'm bored or get a creepy feeling about the person (generally the former). If we end up getting along well, it's easier to extend the plans than to cut them short. So coffee can become lunch, and lunch can become a walk followed by coffee.

    One of the most important things where I think some people fail, especially if they are less self-confident, is in keeping within the limits of your comfort. It can be hard not to answer questions if you're feeling pressured and just trying to think of a way to get out of where you are. It's a mistake I have made in the past (when I was younger), despite the fact that I'm generally fairly assertive.

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