Hopeless romantics are searching for love by joining popular dating sites like Plenty of Fish, eHarmony and Match.com, but are they being as cautious as they should?
Many people have a tendency to feel extra lonely with Valentine’s Day approaching – the most romantic holiday of the year. Studies show that at this time last year OKCupid had an increase in signups from both women and men, with 10% more men creating a profile and 35% more women.
There are mixed emotions from members of society about online dating since it’s a fairly new trend, yet it’s become more popular and more accepted. The dangers of meeting strangers online and opening yourself up is frightening to many, since it’s difficult to validate the truth of online statements without one-on-one human interaction.
Nicole McCance, a registered psychologist in Toronto for 10 years says she meets with couples as well as singles that use online dating as a resource for love.
“Christmas and Valentine’s Day are really big times for people meeting. The truth is we all know somebody who is married and they’ve met that person online,” said McCance.
In a 2015 study conducted by Pew Research Centre, one-in-five adults between 25-34 years old use online dating websites, which is a big change since Match.com launched in 1995.
“There was no Facebook in 1995. We live in an online world where everything is on there now and it just feels normal,” McCance said.
Melanie Provencher met her boyfriend on Plenty of Fish in 2013, and she says she feared he wouldn’t be who he portrayed online.
“We met right away in person. This allowed us to get to know each other on a personal level and develop a strong relationship,” said Provencher.
Online dating gave Provencher the opportunity to find love without the stress of going out. “It was an outlet and an easy way to talk to people and get to know them without the hassle of the bar and having to go out.”
It’s important to take baby steps when you’re starting a relationship over the computer. You wouldn’t share your personal information with a stranger on the street, so why would you over the Internet?
Dr. Keely Kolmes, psychologist from San Francisco for 20 years shares her best tips on staying safe when dating online. “Consider using photos that aren’t linked to other social media sites if you’re trying to keep a little bit private,” says Kolmes.
McCance says you need to hear your date’s voice on the phone first and then meet them in a public place for safety. “Within the first week, get him on the phone. It’s really important to make sure you feel comfortable, you hear his voice, and then you meet in person.”
Kolmes suggests using a new email for your profile and listing your phone number as private if you’re beginning to date someone you don’t feel completely safe with yet.