In one of my latest blogs, I talked about how to potentially meet people and how those of us in our 40s and 50s are in a transitional period. Meaning, we are used to meeting people through introduction or at local neighborhood places. But with the internet and social media being so popular, many turn to online dating sites.

As we hear many success stories of those marrying their internet connection, we also hear horror stories. Let’s face it, you can have happy endings or horror endings no matter how you meet someone, but the internet is especially scary these days.

It’s a very touchy subject because some may want to hold the owners of the online dating sites responsible for any mishaps.  I had one of my own horror stories where I met someone online who became a stalker, and I immediately wanted to blame the dating site for this. I did contact the dating site customer relations to let them know what happened.  Supposedly they banned the psycho from their site.

But this was my fault. I went by this person’s picture and profile thinking he might be a good match for me, so how can I hold the dating site responsible for his behavior? The internet is unregulated, no matter how “moderated” it might seem to be. It’s the Wild West without a sheriff to protect you. Online dating services rely on the honesty of each applicant and determine results based on data only.  No matter how powerful or sophisticated the computer, it can’t identify lies or psychos. Technology has compromised by us, not the dating service or the computer.

Recently we heard about a murder that happened via an introduction on one of the most popular dating sites in the country, Plentyoffish. In this instance, a woman lured a man to a bowling alley for a first date, and a few hours later went to the man’s house for extra fun.

For the next date, the woman wanted to meet at the man’s house again – but this time she took three men, including two felons on probation for robbery, with her. The men shot her date to death in the kitchen, then all four individuals robbed his house blind.

So you see? It’s not always the guy who’s the predator.

What precautions do we take in this crazy world we live in? How do we know who to trust? Sometimes even our inner voices fail us. My only advice is quite simple: stay anonymous for as long as you can. Do not tell anyone where you live, or your last name, or address, or anything that would make it easy for someone to find you, until you are really sure things seem okay. A lot of people these days find it safer to have disposable cell phones, or a drop-box in case someone wants to mail something, like a card, postcard, or birthday gift.

When you go on any date, always tell a family member or friend where you’re meeting someone, what time, and with whom. Do not get into a car with anyone and always meet in a public place – preferably with security cameras. If there does come a time where you feel comfortable having someone come over to where you live, invite one of your friends or family members to be there with you. If intimacy is unavoidable, you can always shoo your guardian away later. But at least they’ve seen the person you’re with and know everything about them, just in case.

Dating is dangerous if you don’t follow precautions. You always hear people say, “It wouldn’t kill you to go out and meet someone.”

Unfortunately, in some cases, it can. So be on your guard. I know you’re just trying to bring an end to your loneliness, but make sure someone doesn’t try to bring an end to your life.

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