Something’s Fishy: Safety concerns come hand-in-hand with online dating

Kelly Gillit / THE FLARE
Kelly Gillit / THE FLARE

It is easy to “find love” because the Internet has created a safety net and barrier between what is real and what is not.

No real commitment exists except for what we envision in our head. It is easier to imagine the perfect relationship with someone without actually putting forth the effort to maintain one.

Websites like eHarmony.com, Christian Mingle.com and Match.com dazzle us with the prospect of finding our one true match. With more than 10 million users, how can you pick out the hopeless romantic from the creepy old man with the nice voice?

Technology makes connecting on a personal level even more difficult to build a genuine relationship.

How long will we continue to play along with the fake pictures, names and fairytale relationships?

The key to ending your shame of falling for a fake profile is to be more cautious of what you allow people to view online about your personal life.

Putting your photos and GPS locations online is one step closer to identity theft and attention from unwanted visitors. Try to make your photos private where no one can download them and only allow the people you accept as a friend permission to view them.

Pictures are great things to view but at what cost? MTV’s “Catfish” has displayed multiple people being fooled on Facebook by interesting conversations and great photographs. Yes, attraction is key, but when it comes to those you see online who are you really attracted to?

Another mistake people make is allowing others online to view their location. It used to be that kidnappers would lurk around for their next victim, but today we make their task easier. Supplying others with private information can compromise our well-being.

To stay on the safe side, disable the GPS on your phone to keep information private or pick and choose carefully about the locations you display.

Although online is not for everyone, if you decide to proceed with an online relationship, there are a few procedures you can take to improve your safety.

1: If exchanging numbers, ask your romantic interest to send you a photo in a specific color shirt to verify their existence.

2: Check to see if their occupation is what they say it is. It is OK to do a background check–it does not make you look crazy.

3:  Talk on the phone for a while to get used to their voice. Make it a habit to have phone conversations that will eventually lead to casual visits.

4: If meeting in public, agree on a well-populated public place.  A refusal should be considered a red flag.

5: Last, but certainly not least, notify someone that you are talking to someone online so if anything goes wrong, your friend or family member knows where to look.

Do not stop there with the strategies until the relationship is more than a message you receive in your inbox.

Also, use these steps and be cautious in any relationship. Your safety is not guaranteed  unless you take matters into your own hands.

Remember there is no love like having the real thing in arm’s reach.

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