Iâ€™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.) Iâ€™ve also tried Match, Lavalife, Salon and others. Anyway, after years of trial and error, Iâ€™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, â€œWhat are some safety tips for online dating sites?â€ I canâ€™t say what works for everyone; here are five points that work for me:
- I ignore guys who don’t post photos. Hereâ€™s a scenario: I post a pic. The guy doesnâ€™t, but he still emails me and expects me to contact him. Maybe heâ€™s ugly? Maybe heâ€™s married or dating and doesnâ€™t want to run the risk of being â€œdiscoveredâ€ online? Whatever the case, Iâ€™m not contacting him. Internet dating is already shady enough. Who needs random, faceless strangers?
- I always go with my gut. Canâ€™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.
- 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 someoneâ€™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.
- I stay really vague. I donâ€™t really owe the guys that I meet online anything up front. If I donâ€™t wanna give up personal information, I donâ€™t. Iâ€™m a pro at two things in this area: (a) dodging questions from strangers and (b) kindly telling people when theyâ€™ve overstepped my boundaries:
- 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 donâ€™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.)
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 dudeâ€™s knee under the table] I didnâ€™t.
So, thatâ€™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 youâ€™d like to add? If so, stick ’em in the comments section.
Photo credit: Image of lovely, dovey frogs is from Bruno Sersocima in GoiÃ¢nia, Goias, Brazil.