You've probably seen the commercials for popular online dating sites that claim they can help you find your "perfect match." It sounds great. You can fill out a profile, answer some questions and get matched with other compatible singles -- all from the comfort of your own living room. Dating sites certainly help some individuals find loving, happy relationships. There are disadvantages and pitfalls of online dating to consider as well.
Online dating sites make it easy for scammers to find and target you. They typically create false profiles with fake information and photos. They may even spend weeks trying to gain your trust. Eventually, though, they will have some type of medical or travel emergency, which they need your help to resolve. They promise to pay you back when they resolve the situation, only to disappear after you send them money.
Dating sites offer myriad choices for a potential partner. With so many choices available, some people may not be inclined to put forth the effort, time and commitment needed for a relationship. Instead, when a problem arises, they may be more likely to dump you in lieu of a "better" option.
Data Shared is Permanent
When you give a dating site personal information, they keep it permanently, even if you delete your profile. Additionally, the privacy policies on many online dating sites state that they will turn over your profile information if they receive a court order to do so. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse warns, your profile information could potentially be used against you in a medical, divorce, employment or custody lawsuit.
Predators and Felons
Some online dating sites don't conduct background checks on their members. Even if they do, experienced sexual predators and felons can still get around this security feature by creating false profiles. Some sexual predators seek out vulnerable individuals to victimize, while others search for single parents to find children to victimize.
According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, though all dating sites have privacy policies, few employ HTTPS, standard Web encryption, which keeps information safe when it's sent or received over the Internet. Thus anyone monitoring an unsecured wireless connection can obtain your username and view your messages and the profiles you visit. With this information, someone can easily hack your account.
Maintaining anonymity online is effortless. For this reason, some individuals may choose to misrepresent themselves in their dating profiles. For instance, they may lie about their socioeconomic status, age, gender, hobbies, interests or physical appearance.
Some dating sites claim to be able to help you find your "perfect match" or "soul mate." Some people do, in fact, find long-lasting loving relationships. Dating sites use scientific algorithms to match you with other members. These dating sites gather information to match you with other members. However, the sites have no way of knowing how you will interact with another person when you actually meet. According to the New York Times Sunday Review, research shows how you and your partner communicate and resolve disagreements predicts whether or not your relationship will last.
Additionally, dating sites do not take into account any environmental factors. The New York Times also asserts that studies show when couples must face unexpected stress, such as illness, job loss, financial difficulties or infertility, they are more likely to be dissatisfied and break up.
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: The Perils and Pitfalls of Online Dating: How to Protect Yourself
- Online Dating Magazine: Online Dating Magazine Issues Sexual Predator Warning to Single Parents
- The Atlantic: Using the Internet as Matchmaker: Drawbacks to Online Dating
- The New York Times: Sunday Review: The Dubious Science of Online Dating
Sierra Koester has been writing professionally since 2006, contributing to several websites and blogs. She received her B.A. in psychology from DePauw University in 2004.
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