Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When Dating Turns Dangerous

If you’ve kept up with the news then you’ve probably heard about Mary Kay Beckman’s Match date who did his best to murder her, and in fact murdered a previous Match date. This sends a shiver down most single folks’ spines, especially if they are currently online dating. What lessons can we learn from Mary Kay’s experience?

She refused to see the man after a couple of dates realizing something wasn’t quite right with Wade Ridley. What she did do was reveal enough information for the man to find her home and hide in her garage. Mary Kay is fifty. She probably had the attitude that the most she had to fear from her date was boredom. Obviously, she was wrong. Most online daters use an email that does not reflect their actual name, and often a prepaid phone. This sounds like a bit of work, but let’s looks at the other side. You meet someone who sounded fine in the profile, but on meeting, you decide you won’t suit. When you expressed your desire not to see him or her, your date goes berserk. Flooding your inbox with hate mail rants and endless phone calls and text messages, as annoying as that might be aren’t you glad you didn’t give out your actual email and phone number.

Sometimes, as older adults, we think we are a good judge of character. Anyone can be fooled no matter how smart he or she is. Sociopaths are particular good at fooling people. There is no reason to take chances, to give out full names, and especially addresses. I didn’t allow my sweetie to come to my house until the fifth date when I was sure he was okay.
If your date balks at your caution, think of this as a major red flag. Your first thought might be to avoid online dating altogether, but dangerous characters pop up everywhere. Jodi Arias, alleged murderer, went looking for high earning males by reading newspapers, tech magazines and online journals. Travis Alexander, the victim, should have questioned why a woman crossed states to be near him. Even when he broke up with her, he failed to contact the police about her stalking him, but he told his brother. His failure to alert people and take proper precautions ended in his death. Perhaps, as a guy, he didn’t figure he had anything to fear from a petite female. He was wrong.

How can you avoid being a victim? Do not date anyone who causes doubts. Perhaps it is something he said, wrote, or a casual remark. Do not allow yourself to be a dating guinea pig. Don’t give out your full name, address, or work address. Profile photos should not include any identifying signs or children.

 This isn’t the first issue with Match. Earlier in 2012, a Match date and was sexually assaulted on the first date. Is every person online crazy? Nope, about 99% of them are normal. Your job is to exercise precaution to prevent that 1% gaining entry to your home and heart. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it is do-able. Be logical. Ask the right questions about your date’s childhood, career, and past relationships. If something sounds off, ask the question another way. If at any time, you feel unsafe, leave. This is why you should meet in public venues. If your date wants to meet in an isolated spot, don’t do it. There is no reason for your date to insist on a solitary spot, unless he or she has an ulterior motive. Too often, people want a relationship to move faster than it should logically and to accomplish this put themselves in dangerous situations.
Does it matter where you acquire your date? Match is a cheap site, as are many others. Some are even free. Does that make a difference in your date? It might, especially if they aren’t looking for long-term prospects. Now eHarmony is more expensive, but verifies dates, which means it checks out marital status, age, employer, and address.

The 45-year-old engineer in Des Moines really is what he says he is. However, they cannot verify if he is a jerk, or treats women in an abusive manner. If a date complains then the man or woman will be banned from eHarmony, and members who had previous contact with him will be warned not to contact him. It is a decent system, and better than no system at all.

Should you stop online dating to be safe? Not necessarily because folks you meet at work, the dry cleaners, through your cousin’s best friend can turn out to be crazy too. Trust your instincts if something feels wrong, then it is. One column suggested taking friends on a date. I don’t think that would go over well. You should always tell someone where you are going and when you will be home. If you feel the need, you can plant a friend in the meeting site. Most folks are trustworthy, but make sure he or she earns your trust first.

Maybe you’ve already given out too much information. Change your profile now. If someone is cyber stalking you, do not respond, but do block him or her. Defriend them on all social media, being their friend is not their consolation prize for not dating you. Do you have a receptionist at work who all incoming calls go through, if so ask her not to process calls from this individual or give out information.

If your spurned date starts following you, it is time to alert the police. At first, they will only take a statement, but it is on their radar. Tell a few friends to leave a trail if you disappear or worst. Sometimes, depending on the escalation of the abuse, you may have to inform your employer, especially if the stalker is waiting in the work parking lot. Be cautious when you are out, aware of your surroundings, avoid going out alone, and after dark. If you feel unsafe, move, if only temporarily this will cause him to transfer his intentions to someone else.

Men, keep in mind, women are more likely to stalk than men are. Just giving out your phone number allows her to access to your address by reverse look up on the Internet. It also provides a map to your house, in case; she wasn’t sure how to get there. By Googling people by their full name, I can often find out where they work and live, sometimes hobbies, and relatives.

Remember to make your safety a number one priority. Too often people dismiss apprehensions, as oppose to listening to them. I am an example of finding a wonderful man through online dating, but I did encounter one troublesome character I wish never knew my last name. Learn from my mistakes, instead, of your own.


  1. Very interesting and informative! A must read for anyone involved in online dating!

    1. Thanks Arsoleen. I will be doing a follow up blog on how stalkers think and act, so we can spot before they leave threats on our voicemail.