Negatives of Online Dating

by Julius Vandersteen
It pays to be cautious about strangers when you try online dating.

It pays to be cautious about strangers when you try online dating.

Online dating can be a convenient service for people who have trouble meeting potential partners. You can quickly and efficiently scour your city, state or an entire nation as you search for someone to date. However, there are some negative aspects of online dating. It might be harder for you to really get to know someone online, since appearances can be deceiving.

Context

When you meet people in the real world, you typically see them in a social context, such as how they interact with workmates, friends and family members. One negative aspect of online dating is that you are dealing with a digital persona made of words and images (and possibly some online voice or video chats before you meet in the flesh). When you spend time with someone in the company of others, you can learn a lot about his attitude and personality, such as how he treats the waiter in a restaurant or whether he gives money to a homeless person on the street.

Lying

A famous cartoon in the New Yorker proclaimed "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." One negative aspect of online dating is that people may lie, or exaggerate, about themselves to attract others who might not otherwise be interested in them. They may post flattering photos taken years ago when they were in much better physical condition, they may exaggerate about their accomplishments or they could lie about their income, education level and whether they drink or take drugs.

Lack of Response

A person whom you are interested in getting to know may not acknowledge your message, and you won't know if it's because the person is being inundated with messages from hundreds of suitors or if he simply is not interested in you. What's worse is the idea that she would like to get to know you, but your message fell through the cracks or wasn't delivered because of a glitch in the online dating computer system. She might also be offline indefinitely or has started dating someone and isn't looking for anyone else at the moment.

Stalkers and Sexual Predators

One of the most troublesome negative aspects of online dating is the potential for stalkers and sexual predators to use it to find their next victims. Researchers estimate that 25 percent of rapists found people to assault through online dating services, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. You should refrain from inviting someone you found online to meet you at your home. Don’t accept an invitation to meet anywhere except a public space where you know other people will be, such as a cafe. It’s prudent to tell a friend or family member where and when you are going on a date with someone you recently met online, so he can check up on you. Take your cell phone with you in case of emergency.

Over-sharing

When people create profiles on an online dating service, they typically include text about their interests, what city they live in and photos showing them at their best. If you are a fairly private person, you may be unwittingly exposing details about yourself to people you don't want to share private information with, such as coworkers or schoolmates. What's more, if your smartphone or digital camera adds metadata to the pictures you take, people may be able to read the GPS information for an image you post to your profile, enabling them to see where you took the picture. Disable geotagging in your device or remove the metadata with a photo editor before posting it online if you are concerned about sharing information about the location where you shot your picture.

About the Author

Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images