Online dating: Flirting with Danger?

By By Emily Rodriguez-Vargas

By Emily Rodriguez-Vargas

Think about how much traditions, hobbies and activities have changed in the past few decades. Shopping, playing games and even dating can all be done without human contact. Instead of the traditional dating scene of our parents’ generation, we now have individuals who sit at their computers, just waiting for their soul mates to appear out of cyberspace.

Some singles looking for romance turn to online dating sites, where they expect to buy love at sites such as Yahoo Personals, and eHarmony. In 2004, ELLE magazine completed a Cybersex and Romance survey with more than 15,000 participants, in which two-thirds of the women and more than half of the men reported having made use of a personals site. JupiterResearch, a research company, foresees that there will be 6 million users in the U.S. market by 2011.

It might sound appealing sometimes, and the ability to pick and choose potential dates from their profiles would be a dream and almost like a shopping experience to some. However, there are many disadvantages to this new dating arena8212;sometimes one is not only flirting with strangers, but also with danger.

If, upon first meeting a stranger, you discover he or she is looking for a serious, committed, long-term relationship, you might feel a bit intimidated. If not, you might be in for one fast ride to who knows where. With the help of the Internet, it’s not too difficult to find personal information about the person you are dating online, which is potentially dangerous. The volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse receives 50 to 75 cases of cyberstalking and harassment each week.

According to the same ELLE survey, 29 percent of men visiting online dating sites were already in relationships, intending to have an affair. Even more astonishing is the estimate that one in every five men on dating sites claim they are available when they are not. For women, one in 10 falsely declares to be single.

Cheating has never been easier. People figure it’s not disloyal if they don’t actually meet each other. There are even special sites that cater specifically to the “Married but Looking” crowd. In the survey, one-fourth of divorcees claimed Internet personals and chat rooms share the blame for ending their marriages.

eHarmony’s 436 initial personality questions in the sign-up process are geared not only to finding a match, but also to sorting out those that lie. Those who turn in inconsistent answers are rejected. In response to this, the Web site has even run an ad campaign for individuals who were found to be un-matchable and rejected from pre-screened sites such as eHarmony for reasons such as already being married, looking for homosexual relationships or just plain being difficult to match. provides comfort to the oh-so-safe online dating world, however, by giving free reign to those who were deemed to be unsuitable for a love match elsewhere, which makes it easier for customers to lie about themselves.

Why tell the truth when you can make yourself seem smarter and more attractive with the click of a mouse? If you want to appear as desirable as possible, online dating is the perfect place for you. You can escape reality and be any kind of person you want to be. The problem is, it might not take you where you want to go.

Of course, there have been happy relationships and marriages resulting from online dating. Individuals who turned to dating on the Internet are grateful to these sites for helping them find their companions. The survey illustrates that of the women who chose online personals to find a relationship, 38 percent have been successful.

It can work, but unfortunately, success is more the exception than the rule. Few people openly parade broken relationships they have had, so we usually only hear about instances when online relationships happily work out.

Good relationships are based on honesty, trust and respect. Rarely are these relationships found through online dating sites, where high numbers of untruthful, already-attached individuals resort to finding additional pleasure and taking advantage of those who are just looking for a happy and long-lasting relationship. The risk of personal danger or moral degradation is too high to make Internet dating a worthwhile activity for students.

Unless the users of Internet dating are completely honest about who they are and what they want, the reasons to use online dating sites that match strangers together don’t quite “match” up.

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Emily Rodriguez-Vargas

Kevin Merriman