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Avoid Dangerous Situations in Online Dating

The online dating world can feel scary for older women reentering the dating scene. Dating today is not like it was in our teens and twenties. There are so many questions and concerns about the online aspects of dating that differ from meeting someone in the library or at a local event. Personal safety is an important issue in dating, more so when using online dating sites–most of the popular sites do not verify users and don’t warn you of a potential scammer.  It becomes your job to be vigilant and careful about meeting potential dates.


This article, Cautionary Tales in Dating,  originally appeared on my website,

Cautionary Tales in Dating

Your momma probably told you, ‘Never talk to strangers’, right?

She was right.

The man you met on an online dating site and might be talking to in an email, instant messaging, or on the phone IS a stranger. And, don’t forget it.

You must remember that here on the internet anyone can say anything. I could be a 15 year old boy. How would you know? The man you’re talking to through one of the online sites may not be who you think he is.

A 50 year old sex offender or a ‘bad guy’  trying to scam you for money can easily masquerade as a successful lawyer. He can grab a photo from Brooks Brothers and use it as his own! Until you have the full name and enough information to research him, he can be anyone he wants.

Your job as a savvy woman is to maintain a degree of caution.

I always question a charmer. My life experience has taught me that the number of truly charming men, without agendas, is small. Yes, in the first flurry of emails and phone chats, charming is nice and important. No one wants to be rude at that point. But, excesses of any type should be a clue that something might be amiss.

Whether you’re 25 or 55, caution is necessary. You have to protect yourself. You have to be smart about dating.

I’ve said some of this before, but it bear repeating:

  • Do not use your real name in a dating profile or the first few emails. Make sure you’re comfortable with the person before you give out too much personal information. I don’t even give out my first name until we’ve had a few conversations, but I have an unusual name.
  • You should make the first phone call and be sure to block your number. Most cell phones allow you to hide your caller ID. Tell him, or her,  you’re going to do that and if he seems offended or doesn’t understand your wish to be cautious, that’s a red flag.
  • Schedule the first meeting for some place very public. Consider a coffee date rather than dinner. Don’t get caught in a situation where you might have to struggle through a whole meal with someone you can’t converse with.
  • When you meet, park your car in a well-lit, public spot. You might consider not having him walk you to your car.
  • Make sure someone knows you’re going on a date, where you are meeting, and the name of your date.

Does this seem alarmist? Too cautionary? No. It’s common sense. It’s about being practical and safe.

Let’s say you agree to meet Joe Date for dinner. He shows up in a grubby t-shirt, is 30 lbs. heavier and 10 years older. He lied about being a lawyer. Now you’ve got to either extract yourself gracefully or suffer through dinner. Do you want him to know where you live? To walk down the dark side street with you to your car?

I met Joe Date. He was a lawyer, I confirmed that. I got his last name, I knew where he went to college–I googled him! But he was about 12 years older, 3 inches shorter and had 3 ex-wives. And, at dinner (yes, I broke my own rule) he told me about having sex with wife #2, I think, over 10,000 times. He was a great conversationalist and could have been fun. But, he obviously had an agenda and was willing to be dishonest about several things in order to meet me. I chose not to see him again.

Be smart. Don’t rush into the first date. Take your time, chat and explore each other in a leisurely fashion before that first date. And, if he’s too eager and won’t wait, your instincts should tell you there’s a problem. Dating can be lots of fun but you have to consider your personal safety too.

Do you have experiences with online dating or questions?



Walker Thornton

We are delighted to have Walker Thornton as our Women’s Sexual Health columnist. After working for over 10 years in the field of sexual violence against women, Walker is now enjoying a new career as a freelance writer, public speaker, and sex educator with an emphasis on midlife women. Her blog, was ranked #5 by in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter For questions about sexual health, write her at

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Thursday 25th of September 2014

Great advice Walker. I make sure to discuss safe sex with my women in the middle years, especially those in new relationships. Age does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Walker Thornton

Thursday 25th of September 2014

Tracey, that's great. You are right, STIs can attack at any age. Thank you.


Wednesday 24th of September 2014

Excellent post with great points regarding safety while online dating. I think people build a sense of false trust over time via email and text messaging. That, combined with the lure of a relationship can make people drop their guard a little too early with some of this newly met people.

Walker Thornton

Thursday 25th of September 2014

Hi. Safety is never a bad thing! I've had a few men run when I asked to remain anonymous a little longer --an excellent indicator of their urgency and lack of regard for my needs. I agree with your comment about false trust-- those early conversations are vital but a little vigilance is still needed.

Cyndie M

Monday 22nd of September 2014

I could write my own "mini-book" on online dates gone bizarre. I even thought at one time to do an anonymous bad dates blog. I made a lot of mistakes early on and had a few close calls but these hints are indeed valuable for those who are thinking about online dating. For some, it's a necessary evil. I call it the dating mine-field.

Walker Thornton

Thursday 25th of September 2014

Cyndie, Thanks for sharing your dating story-- I agree, it's a bit wild out there in the early days of dating. I know I made a few mis-steps.

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