Through my friend CS (another fabulous single woman), I met a lovely couple recently who got engaged last November – and who met on an internet dating site. What was interesting was the discussion we had about how safe internet dating (and having a lot of information about yourself online) is.
Between the four of us we had three stories about how women who’d been on internet dating sites had been in dodgy situations – either harassed over email, mildly assaulted, or in one sad case, raped by a man who turned out to have done the same thing to five other women.
Questions were posed as to when it’s ‘safe’ to go to an internet date’s home, or let him pick you up and drive you in his car – or invite him back to your place. The consensus was that you need at least three or four dates and then still need to trust your instincts.
When I piped up ‘Don’t you Google the person first?’ I was met with blank looks. None of them did! Now I know I practically live online, but really, if you’re meeting someone new, it’s common sense to check him/her out by doing an internet search. I particularly like looking up people on Facebook because if we have friends in common, I find that very reassuring, and sometimes even contact that mutual friend to find out a little more about my date.
CS said she’d met up with a guy who had Googled her and she was really disconcerted that he knew things about her that she hadn’t told him. My take is that it showed he’d been interested and done his homework. If you’re honest with each other, all that information will come out eventually anyway, so why hide it? CS reckons she can learn all she needs to know about someone within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. Personally, I reckon my instincts could use some factual backup.
It is vital to do things like apply high privacy settings to your Facebook profile, let people you don’t really know only see a limited profile – and control what sort of information you allow to be in the public domain. Not only does this protect you personally but it also prevents your boss seeing what you were up to at that tequila night last weekend…
Do you Google your dates? Is it intrusive or sensible?