While I was at my book event at Indigo Bay & Bloor yesterday, I, as usual, had an opportunity to meet a great group of people. One such soul was an obviously Godly older man who was curious about how “safe” I felt online dating really was.
He proceeded to tell me the recent news story of a divorced woman in the United States who tried her hand at online dating, only to be found murdered by her suitor. The elderly man felt that it was just not safe to date someone you meet online, and further commented that we could meet people in “real” places.
Raised to respect my elders, I did gently disagree with him. I explained that even if we meet someone in a “real” place, there’s no guarantee that they are an upstanding human being. We take risks no matter what avenue we take with dating. I didn’t feel that I needed to prove my point with the mention of the Pastor who murdered his wife of thirty years.
Here’s an excerpt from my book, Living Out Loud, to demonstrate how I personally handled an odd situation:
… I received an email notification from the dating site that a message had come in. It was some random man (whom I had never had contact with before) asking me to meet him at “The Langston.” I asked Lorenzo if he knew what The Langston was, but he had no clue. I looked it up online but could find nothing. At the same time as I was doing this, and talking to him, I was also booking a flight for my mother.
So picture this: I’m messaging Lorenzo, while booking a flight online, while discussing the itinerary with my mother, while balancing the phone in the crook of my neck, when another message comes in.
“Well… thanks for answering. At the very least a simple yes or no… mighty respectful of you.”
I could not believe it. He gave me four minutes to reply and then came back with that? Do these people honestly think that when a message comes in, life just stops? What if, at that very moment, the phone rang, or someone came to my door, or I had a raging case of Montezuma’s revenge because I had just flown back from a week-long missionary trip through the Congo? Does one bring the laptop into the bathroom in such a case? Is it rude to disembowel yourself in front of a complete cyber-stranger? Oh my gawd. These people are insane.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come across as rude. I was on the phone with my mom booking travel for her. I guess I should have multi-tasked a little better. 🙂 My sincerest apologies for seeming as though I sloughed off your invite. I will decline, but I do appreciate the offer.”
“Figured as much.”
I was stunned. That four-minute delay in my reply may have saved my life. If Random Dude #362 flipped his lid after a four-minute delay, what were the chances that I would end my night chopped into little pieces in the dumpster behind The Langston?
Although my approach to situations usually airs on the side of tongue-in-cheek, was I overreacting?
What idiot would honestly think that a woman is just going to meet him without ever making contact with him before? A smart idiot… that’s who. I’m sure if he just keeps asking, he will get an acceptance. It takes all kinds.
So what can you do to keep yourself safe when embarking on a path of online dating? Use my 3 C’s:
- Common sense
Whether you meet the person through friends, at church, the carwash, or online, the 3 C’s are important to remember.
No matter how he or she makes your toes tingle, take it slow and easy. Keep personal details to yourself—where you work, home address, home phone number, kids’ school names, etc. You will not break any land-speed records by taking it slow and easy. Guinness is not going to profile you in their Book of World Records for hopping into the back of his van after only one drink.
Home phone number. This one is a really good caution item. If you don’t have a cell phone, buy a pay-as-you-go phone, and use it solely for your dating communications. For pennies a day, it’s a good investment.
Google the hell out of them!
We are in an age of technology and you can find out a lot about a person through social media. If it’s good enough for employers and Ellen DeGeneres to use, then you should too! If you are from the same area, chances are that you might know people who know your suitor. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
When you are in the online (or offline) getting-to-know-you stage, listen. Don’t just talk over them and puke out every detail of your life—listen to what they have to say. Learn about them. Watch their body language when you ask questions. If you have the intention of, one day, dancing the Flesh Fandango with them, you have every right to know them “intimately” outside of the bedroom.
Listen to your gut and keep yourself safe with your surroundings.
- Meet them in very public places
- Don’t get in their car
- Don’t go to their home
- Don’t take candy from them (oops… that’s a different blog… sorry)
- Have a buddy who you give your date details to, and check in with them at the end of each date
- Make it clear to your suitor that people close to you know where you are
- Do not get pressured into deviating from the original date plans
If your suitor is on the up-and-up, they will not get their nose out of joint if you air on the side of caution.
Online or offline, there will always be unsavory people out there.
“He was always such a nice man. Kept to himself…”
How many times have we heard that in the news?
Be safe out there, people.