Your parents always warned you not to talk to strangers, but with the internet, talking to strangers has become the norm. Most people online are good and genuine, and this remains true for the majority of people on online dating sites. However, with docudramas like ‘Dirty John’ making their way into American homes, it is easy to see how meeting a stranger can also go very wrong.
Exploring statistics and facts related to online dating and safety gives you a better idea about what danger may be lurking. It also gives you the tools needed to protect yourself against the few people who may have nefarious intentions.
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Sex Offenders Use Online Dating
There are many levels of sex offenders. They are able to sign up on online dating websites to meet people. It is estimated that about 10% of the sex offenders in the US are on an online dating website.
Because of this, it is important to do your homework on your matches. Stick to sites that offer identity verification so that you can search the names of your matches on the sex offender registry. If you do not get their last name on the site, do not be afraid to confirm their identity before you meet them.
It is also important that you stick to meeting in public places for at least your first few dates. Do not allow someone being charming to cause you to lower your guard. You can stay safe and significantly reduce your risk of running into a sex offender when you are diligent about your safety.
One in 10 Online Daters Are Scammers
For every 10 people you meet on online dating sites, there is a strong chance that at least one of them will be a scammer. The FBI reports that in just six months in 2014, more than $82 million was lost as a result of romance scams. They further stated that over $100,000 was the average lost by the victims.
More dating sites are starting to take measures to crack down on fake profiles to prevent this issue from occurring. However, it is not possible to guarantee that every single profile is legitimate. Because of this, you must take the steps necessary to protect yourself.
One way dating sites are fighting back against scammers is by offering verification for profiles. In most cases, this in voluntary but it lets you know who has verified their identity with the site. You can then choose to only communicate with verified profiles to significantly reduce your risk of having to deal with a scammer.
More Than Half of Americans Exaggerate on Their Online Dating Profile
While most people are dishonest about things that would not cause harm to another person, you have to consider that every person you are talking to could be telling you at least a little white lie. It is estimated that about 53% of American online daters exaggerate on at least one element of their dating profile.
Some of the most common things that people lie about include their height, income, age and weight. While you certainly want total honesty from someone you are considering dating, you want to focus more on the most important things. For example, if someone lies about their identity or criminal background, this could cause significant issues in the future.
When you are talking to someone, you do not want to rush the process of getting to know each other. However, if you notice any red flags regarding what they reveal about themselves or if they avoid certain subjects that most people would not, listen to your gut.
Approximately Half of the People on Online Dating Sites Are Not Single
It is estimated that approximately 51% of people on online dating sites already have a significant other. Another 11% are actually married. While this might not always be a safety threat, you have to consider that issues like jealousy or scams could be more likely in these situations.
Be clear about how you feel about dishonesty regarding relationship status and do not be afraid to ask everyone you talk to if they are attached to another person. It is also perfectly okay to do your research on the people you want to meet in person before meeting them.
Four Out of Five Women Do Not Use Any Form of Protection
Sex on a first date is common among female online daters. It is estimated that about 33% of women engage. However, the most startling statistic is that of these women, protection is not used by four out of five of them.
No matter how long you have been talking to someone online, it is impossible to know everything about them. This includes their health history. Because of this, such behavior puts you at a safety risk for STDs, some of which cannot be cured. (see our study on online dating and STDs)
The Risk of Sexual Abuse is Higher Among Online Daters
This goes hand in hand with not really knowing who you are meeting when you decide to meet a match from online dating in the real world. One study concluded that the risk of sexual abuse was twice as likely to occur among dating site users compared to those who do not use any types of dating apps or sites.
The types of abuse ranged from rape to coercion to engage in sex without using protection. Meeting in public and traveling separately are two ways to help reduce the risk of this form of assault. It is important for both women and men to be aware of this fact and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
Some Sites Allow You to Report Suspicious Profiles
The bigger dating sites typically have a feature that allows you to report profiles that are suspicious. Some of them even have departments that are dedicated to screening all reported profiles to determine if the suspicion has merit so that they can be deleted.
Despite this, fake profiles do slip through, so it is ultimately up to you to make sure that you are doing everything in your power to be safe when you are engaging in online dating. If you ever feel uncomfortable with someone, you should report them. Should that site also have a block feature, you should also take advantage of this.
About One-Third of Online Daters Report Discomfort When Meeting Someone in Person
One survey talked to adults about their experiences with online dating. For one question, they were asked if they felt their safety was in jeopardy when meeting someone online. About 37% of the respondents stated that they did have concerns.
It is unknown what happened to cause their apprehension as the survey did not allow for elaboration. According to this survey, over half of these respondents did not report their experience to the site where they met the person who made them question their safety.
3% of Men on Online Dating Sites Are Psychopaths
This is a relatively small number, but it is still something to consider when you engage in online dating. For the most part, it is women who need to concern themselves with this statistic. However, gay men also need to take note and practice diligence.
Psychopaths can often be charming to essentially get you to meet with them. Just because a man appears normal and loving at first does not mean that they are not dangerous. Always pay attention to red flags and use caution.
16,000 Abductions Each Year Are the Result of Online Predators
Not all of these abductions are online dating sites. Some are the result of things like social media, chat rooms and other digital communication methods. However, since some do occur as a result of an online dating interaction, it is important to always consider the possibility.
Never meeting someone in a private place until you know that you can trust them is imperative to prevent this. You must always travel separately to your date meeting place too so that you are able to leave on your own if you ever feel uncomfortable with how things are going.
Some States Are More Dangerous for Online Daters Than Others
There are 10 states that are considered the most dangerous for online daters. These include:
- Washington DC
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
- South Carolina
There are also 10 states that are considered the safest for online daters. These include:
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
Most Online Dating Interactions Go Smoothly
Even if you and your match do not have anything in common and cut ties, most interactions do not result in any danger. About 20% of people in relationships today met as the result of online dating. This number is estimated to jump to 70% by 2040. The experts state that you need to trust your gut and use precautions to ensure that your safety is always your top priority when you date online.
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