With today’s advances in technology, online dating seems an “easier” way to meet someone because you can swipe left or scroll through photos and be spared the rejection of a face-to-face interaction. You can make your profile vague to ostensibly avoid “creepers” and prevent stalkers. But that’s not how it actually plays out. Keep in mind that if you can make your own profile vaguer, so can others. Including men who are online with the intention to use dating sites to prey on women.
Within the last several years, I’ve personally visited just about every dating sites – from Christian Mingle, Match.com, E-Harmony, Tinder, Plenty of Fish and many others. Through my own experiences I’ve found that the selection of men is slim pickings mostly in part to how prevalent the “creepers” are on these sites. There are dangers on dating sites that you should consider before opening an account, and here are my top five.
With the way profiles are set up, it’s hard to tell if the profile is fake or legitimate. Don’t be surprised if that handsome, physically fit, 30-something Christian, is really a 50-something year old man, whose out of shape, has no job, and has no faith walk. Dating sites are the perfect environment for catfishing. Be careful not to give too much identifiable information away because that information can be used to locate and stalk you.
Most of these sites require your zip code in order to sign up for an account. The downside to that requirement is the dating sites publicize your location, not just the general city, but your specific zip code. This in turns allows thousands of men to know exactly where you’re located, jeopardizing your safety. I’ve actually had guys say to me, “The nearby locator says you’re 3.6 miles away from me that tells me that you’re located in this area, I could stop by right now.” They say this even before I’ve told them where I live. Personally, I find it very unsettling that my location is made readily available.
3. Harassment and Cyber-bullying
In the “Meet Me” section on the sites, you will see all types of profiles. I’ve found that these profiles are rarely properly screened before being made available for other users to view. The profiles can be of a sexually explicit nature in regard to their pictures, biography, and even their description of women. It seems objectifying women is a consistent pattern online. A lot of my first messages from guys have been degrading, like, “Oh the things I will do to you,” and “What position do you like?” Also, be prepared that if you reject these inappropriate advanced, you will more than likely be harassed and cyber-bullied.
4. Human and Sex Trafficking
One of the biggest surprises has been how rampant the solicitation for trafficking and sex is on these sites. There are profiles specifically directed towards young girls and women for the purpose of paying them for sex and advertising that they are looking for someone who is ok with having sex with multiple men as others look on. I’ve encountered profiles that use BDSM pictures of women and vulgar nudity for their profile. As much as the sites post their safety guidelines, no matter how many times I’ve reported these sexually graphic accounts, the dating sites do not take action, nor do they enforce their guidelines. Some of these profiles make it clear what their intentions are but there are others that are a lot more strategic and sly in their approach. Those profiles use verbiage to groom women and attempt to gain trust before they prey on us, even convincing girls to travel to see them so they can eventually use and abuse us, their unsuspecting victims.
5. Victimization of Violence
Like I said before I’ve tried different sites to see what they had to offer, and to find out which ones were the safest. Recently I had the unfortunate experience in meeting a man from Plenty of Fish who would later verbally and emotionally abuse me and try to isolate me. Thankfully I was able to get out of that relationship quickly because I knew what signs to look for, signs I didn’t recognize in the past until it was too late.
What I’ve learned from my experiences on these sites is that the advertisements we often see does not show the danger that exists. Despite these dating sites being in the headlines for crimes happening to women, like myself – the corporate giants refuse to take action to better protect us, allowing these unsafe men the opportunity to find more victims to victimize. As much as technology can be a great tool, in the wrong hands it can be a dangerous one, especially when it comes to dating sites.
Witlee Ethan is a speaker, advocate, blogger, and warrior in the fight against violence and injustice. Today she speaks on a variety of issues including, sexual and domestic violence, sanctity of life, suicide prevention, women’s issues, Faith and the Gospel, to educate, spread awareness, encourage and inspire others. Her story is both versatile and applicable to any audience and platform. To learn more about her ministry, go to the link here.