2018-02-11 / Insight

Single?

Online dating could help, but be careful
BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER COUNTY

— From proper etiquette to important safety aspects, there is a lot more to online dating than simply creating a profile — as many may be tempted to do this time of year.

But evidence suggests it shouldn’t be done on a whim.

Starting with safety, the teams at HighSpeedInternet.com and SafeWise recently compiled a list of the safest to most dangerous states for online dating. The list took into account stats on violent crime, cybercrime, and a couple of sexually transmitted diseases (gonorrhea and chlamydia) compared with population estimates.

The good news for Lapeer County residents is that Michigan is far from the worst (or “most dangerous”) state for online dating.

That dubious distinction goes to Alaska, which has a whopping 71 percent more “incidents” per capita than the national average. By comparison, Michigan has about one percent more “incidents” per capita than the national average. (By the way, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire are deemed the “safest” states for online dating.)

“Online dating can be a lot of fun, and you can meet some amazing people,” the study concludes. “But stay aware of common dangers you can encounter in the process, and take measures to protect yourself.”

One of the most important things to do, the study suggests, is to let your friends or family know where you are going and with whom.

The nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (a consumer education and advocacy organization) also suggests keeping in mind another issue related to safety: your information.

The organization notes that online dating services may collect vast amounts of information about you, from your age, sex, and education to hobbies, religion and where you live and work.

“After crunching the numbers using an algorithm, they’ll give you a list of people they think you may be compatible with” Privacy Rights Clearinghouse states in a blog post. “The services may make additional money by selling the data for marketing or advertising purposes.”

The organization said it’s important to also note that “Once an online dating service has your information, it has it for keeps. Even after you cancel your account, most dating sites retain your information.”

“Beyond data collection, retention and sharing, there are other risks that you will want to consider including ripoff scams, sexual predators, and damage to your reputation,” the organization states.

The organization suggests:

• Read the dating site’s terms of service and privacy notice;

• Share photographs with caution;

• Consider getting a free e-mail account specifically for online dating purposes (from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.);

• Respect your instincts. Trust your doubts about prospective dates who don’t resemble their pictures, people with frightening personalities, and nagging suspicions that someone is being dishonest;

• If you see something, say something. If a company misuses your data, if you don’t like a privacy policy, if a website does something creepy or weird, speak up. Say something;

• Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper. Keep in mind that everything you say about yourself online stays online, for better or worse.

So now that you have some advice on staying safe, what’s the best advice to put your plan into action?

Luma Matchmaking, which has an office in Livonia, offers the following advice for those who are serious about online dating.

Take a Professional Profile Picture

It’s important because the

very first thing anyone will look at is your profile picture, the company notes.

“This can be intimidating since not many people like being judged on their looks before getting the chance to show off their personality. However, most people want to see a picture out of curiosity and to put a face to the rest they are about to learn about you.”

Luma recommends a professional headshot to let potential matches know that you care enough to put in the effort.

“That will go a long way and will put you ahead of most other profiles,” Luma says on its website.

Don’t Mention Making Money — or Making Babies

One of the rules of creating your dating profile is to not mention how much money you make, how much money you hope a potential match makes, or that you are seeking to have a baby with someone.

“Most people want to find a match that loves them through thick and thin and talking about money right in your dating profile will say to potential matches that you need more than love to be in a relationship, or you think a partner will only love you for your money. Speaking about finances can come later on when you already know you want to move forward with your partner. This topic is better left unsaid, at least right in the very beginning,” Luma says.

As to the baby issue, Luma says, most people that are looking for a match are looking to have children in the future, but saying it too soon may make them feel like they are being used for your own reproductive purposes. If you already have children you can feel free to include that in your dating profile.

Don’t Lie

Luma Matchmakings say to “Don’t ever lie in your dating profile about anything including: age, weight, height, your job or the level of commitment that you are looking for. Lies in your dating profile will soon be found out, and it is much better to have someone fall in love with the real you, rather than feeling lied to and deceived.

Your dating profile shouldn’t make you feel anxious or nervous. Think of it as an introduction to who you are and what you are looking for.

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