Old Fashioned Dating is Not Safer Than Online Dating

Study: Old Fashioned Dating is Not Safer Than Online Dating

As an online dating advocate, I’ve said for years that it’s as safe (or safer) than dating “in real life”. Strangers and critics pooh-poohed me.

“How could that be? They’re total strangers! You don’t know who they are! The best bet is to go on a half-hour coffee date in broad daylight, with a friend at the same coffee shop and tell everyone you know where you are. Then, if there’s no chemistry, you can leave without wasting time.”

Just because you went out with some total pervy jackasses on OkCupid does not mean for one second that there is a higher population of men like that online than offline.

Wow, ladies, you really make dating sound like a lot of fun!

Turns out, I was correct – or, at least, not incorrect. Sure enough, online daters tend to have a slightly lower victimization rate than traditional daters. Do you hear the sound of a record scratching? That’s all of your irrational fears rubbing up against reality.

Are many men creepy? Are many men pigs? Are many men stalkers? Are many men abusive? Sure thing. But here’s the problem: there’s not a higher percentage of those men on Match.com. If anything, it’s the same percentage of men – or, maybe even a lower percentage of men. Furthermore, you can’t tell which of these men is going to be the worst of the worst. Stalkers don’t say so in their profile. Rapists don’t advertise. Unless he has an extensive criminal record that’s Googleable, the only way you know if a guy is a bad egg is by going through the dating process.

And here’s where online dating has the edge over “real-life” dating. Says the study, ““People who seek out potential partners on the internet seem to exhibit higher levels of caution and utilize more protective measures,” Smith said. “In addition, many people who use online dating sites tend to [talk to] their potential partner for a longer period of time prior to meeting them in person, thus making them more aware of potential “red flags” that might arise in a face-to-face situation.”

Thus, “men” aren’t the problem, Match isn’t the problem… a swath of bad eggs are the problem – and those bad eggs are everywhere – your workplace, your grocery store, your subway, your bar, your gym, and yes, even among your friends. Online dating doesn’t create or enable the worst behavior – all it does is give you access to greater numbers of men. So when I tell you, in Finding the One Online, that the answer to successful online dating is to SLOW DOWN, not speed up, this is what I’m talking about. Go on a date with a cute stranger that you met at a bar and you know virtually nothing about him. If you follow my 2/2/2 rule, you can spare yourself the trouble of going out with a freak AND set yourself up for a much better first date.

And if you don’t know what the 2/2/2 rule is and how it will give you an infinitely better dating experience, do yourself a favor and click here. Despite the marketing language, it’s a unisex product that helps men and women attract and flirt with the highest quality singles out there.

Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated. But I’d appreciate if you keep them logical. Just because you went out with some total pervy jackasses on OkCupid does not mean for one second that there is a higher population of men like that online than offline. It’s the same pool of men – but at least, in online dating, you have a greater chance to screen them before going on a date.

Join our conversation (44 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    True …thats been my experience! No problem with any on line dates Ive met because i screen by talking to them first and listening to my intuition. The online dates Ive had are all pretty good and enjoyable  .
    I acquired a stalker outside of online dating and my friends and I have come across some wackos in the outside world but nothing we couldn’t handle. 

  2. 2

    I agree totally. Since the beginning of online dating I would read about women, mostly, being very negative about it.  To me it’s a boon, or just another option and that can’t hurt.
    I’ve always felt that it’s an introduction service. After that everything that takes place in a more traditional meeting takes place.  IT’s no different just the meeting.
    And I also think that simply because one has to fill out a profile and make the effort to set it up, much can be gleaned about a person without meeting them. You can glean their intelligence, sensibilities and values.  This is a huge plus whereas in the offline world you have to work harder to get the basics.

  3. 3

    I agree. I don’t know why people are so paranoid and fearful about online dating. There are crazy people online and offline. People really need to start breaking down their own walls and really examining their fears.

  4. 4

    Agreed about the ratio of the types of men (and women) being about the same online as offline.  In my experience, logging onto your online dating profile simulates going to a popular club on a Friday night.  Everyone communicates like they’re drunk, there’s a lot of random, shameless humping and grinding, and some sights you’ll wish you could unsee, and just generally chaotic.  But occasionally – very occasionally – you’ll find yourself next to someone with their head on straight that you have a great conversation with and would like to see more of.  Just like the club, this will probably not happen every time you log on, but odds increase with frequency and with how you present yourself. 

  5. 5

    LOL @ the analogy, Amelia2.0
    Wow, I didn’t realize there were people who thought online dating was dangerous.  I’ve come across my fair share of those who find it to be an embarrassing secret for some reason and do not like to share the fact that they met their partners that way.
    If anything, I would think that there is more safety in finding a dating partner online simply because you will probably do your due diligence before meeting in person.  A creep (of either gender) could, of course, endure through all the initial emails and phone calls but that’s a lot of effort.  He/she can just as easily pick someone up in a bar to exercise said creepiness.  Online dating did not work for me personally but never in all my time on eHarmony and POF did I actually meet a creep.  I did have incompatible or socially awkward dates but never creepy ones.
    LOL @EMK and “old fashioned dating” 😛   Gave me a chuckle.  Some of us met our spouses the “old fashioned” way and didn’t think it was all that old fashioned at all.  Has meeting people IRL really gone out of fashion?

  6. 6

    I couldn’t agree more! I have friends who roll their eyes and tell me that the men online are all liars and making up fake profiles and you just can’t trust them.  I’ve talked to a lot of men online and actually met quite a few. I’ve run into a few professional scammers, some oddballs, the occasional pervert, but overall just a bunch of normal guys looking to meet someone.  By the time we actually met, I had a pretty good idea of who the person really was & had some legit contact info and or pics to do some checking.  If I were out somewhere meeting a stranger by chance in person, I’d have absolutely no idea who they really were.  They could present themselves as whoever they want me to think they are and I’d have no way of knowing anything different.  Bad people… And good people…  Are everywhere.  We just need to start paying attention and use some common sense when meeting strangers no matter how first contact is initiated.

  7. 7

    I agree with Evan.
    I could never really understand what people found creepy or unsafe about online dating.
    Yes, of course there are guys on there that you would never consider being in a relationship with, or even having a second date with.  But my experiences with online dating have been overwhelmingly positive. I have met so many lovely, relationship-oriented guys that quite honestly, I have been spoilt for choice.
    I do go back to the self-esteem thing though.  If you have a high self-esteem, you tend to attract high quality people, whether it be in real life or in online dating.

  8. 8

    “We just need to start paying attention and use some common sense when meeting strangers no matter how first contact is initiated.”

  9. 9

    “Match isn’t the problem”

    Match isn’t this particular problem, but it isn’t without problems.

  10. 11

    I can agree, esp. given the superfical ways that some of my female friends will decide that a guy is “safe.”  
    So a friend who won’t use her real first name online in any way (and I mean after she’s talking to someone, not as an online dating handle), and who will google every possible thing she can find about you, will get in a car on a first date with a guy who she meets in a bar or at a meetup without doing any of that.
    And one guy that she let pick her up did try to more or less force his way back home with her.  Not all in one step, but she let him pick her up (and in her case, was not interested in dating him but perhaps being friends), and he dropped her off but then said he was coming back.  Luckily for her, she was living with a family, which he didn’t know, but he was pretty agressive about coming back very late at night and even said he was already on the road.  
    But my main point is that with this guy and some others, some who have been harmless and some who did some unasked groping, is that the reason she gave them the all clear was b/c they were educated, professional men with good jobs and who went to good schools.  
    It is foolish to think that a guy who went to Wharton or Stanford Med is someone you should give your address to after one flirty meeting in a bar.  
    And I’ve heard the same kind of crazy logic about using condoms.  Oh, he’s a doctor, I don’t need to use one.  
    A good pedigree does not mean that a person could not be dangerous, and you should follow the same rule when meeting strangers in person as you do when meeting them online (so for me, that means staying vague about where I live, saying my industry/job but not my company, and certainly meeting someone in a public place instead of letting him pick me up from my home).  My goal is that if someone gives me the creeps, I don’t want him to have the ability to somehow track me down (so I try to keep last name out of it if I only meet you once).

  11. 12
    Karmic Equation

    Interesting. I never realized that some people believed that online dating was unsafe. I never thought that. The only reason I don’t online date is because I’m not photogenic. IRL I’m attractive but the camera hates me. So I hate it right back!

  12. 13

    @Skaramouche…I think “old-fashioned dating” is a good way of describing it versus online but it wasn’t a dig b/c while he’s talked about being a prolific online dater, Evan wound up meeting his wife through “old-fashioned dating” too…
    I think I’ve seen a lot of people like that…they date online which makes them better at dating and figuring out what is important but then stumble onto people in real life and do better at it b/c of all of the practice they got. If you look at his own description of his dating experience, it was the lessons he learned from failed dating and relationships that put him in the right frame of mind to realize that his wife was worth pursuing.  It sounds like if 20 something Evan had met his wife online or in real-life, he’d have missed out b/c of his mindset at that time.  

  13. 14

    “I can agree, esp. given the superfical ways that some of my female friends will decide that a guy is “safe.” 
    The doctor and condom thing made me squirm. This is sadly what a lot of women are taught that high professional status = safe. Just something sadly that she and many others need to unlearn.
    “one guy that she let pick her up did try to more or less force his way back home with her.  Not all in one step, but she let him pick her up (and in her case, was not interested in dating him but perhaps being friends), and he dropped her off but then said he was coming back.  Luckily for her, she was living with a family, which he didn’t know, but he was pretty agressive about coming back very late at night and even said he was already on the road.
    Huge red flag online and offline of someone not being safe is anyone not accepting a persons individual NO thank you, I’m fine thanks, etc, in answer to anything that they don’t want to do at that moment to any question whether that be having an alcoholic drink, make out, having  sex, go back to their house or being invited into theirs, etc etc for an answer. Either overtly as in this man case or covertly by trying to coerce, convince or manipulate someone into changing their mind.
    Some people think no is the beginning of a negotiation where if someone respects your boundaries of No thank you etc and is safe to be around it is the actually the end of the conversation for now on that issue until the next date if there is to be one.

  14. 15

    I actually think that in some ways online dating is safer.  When I was online and going to meet someone, my sisters knew where I was going, who I was meeting, and when I would be back.  They had read the guy’s profiles and seen his picture.  
    I rely a lot on my intuition.  I pay attention to what the guys have to say.  I did not meet a single creepy on line.  NOT ONE.  I met guys who weren’t a match but never a creep.  There were two times when I read  a profile that seemed great and said all the right things and the pictures were great but the hair on the back of my neck stood up.  I did not answer them.  I choose to believe my intuition.
    Karmic Equation # 12
    Your comment about hating the camera back made me laugh!  I know how you feel.  I have petite features and long dark hair yet through some mysterious process the camera transforms me into something that more closely resembles Wolfman and Elvira’s lovechild.  
    My younger sister, on the other hand, is very photogenic.  The camera doesn’t just like her, it adores her.  It doesn’t matter if she hasn’t gotten sleep, gained a few pounds, or is having a bad hair day she always looks great in pictures.  This makes family photos pure torture.  I did discover, however, that she is very good behind the camera and can make me actually look human in pictures.  So I had her do all my photos when I went online.

  15. 16

    I agree with all the other ladies here.  Much better then a blind date or first time date without any prior interaction.  I also feel much safer with online dating.  It’s like grocery shopping from home.  You can fill your cart, talking in the comfort and privacy of your own home.  You can even be looking your worse at the time. 

  16. 17

    @Rose, the other thing that is a bit disturbing is that she doesn’t consider any of these encounters to have been indicators that she should change the way she judges “professional and pedigreed” men.
    I don’t care if you have tattoos and piercings or can trace your ancestors to the Mayflower, anyone can be a date rapist, a sociopath, an abuser, or whatever.
    Everyone should practice the same caution when meeting knew people, esp. people that you are looking to for potentially intimiate relationships with. While I have no opinions (although I don’t do it) to one night stands, I personally would think that the safety angle would be a big deterrent for men or women…you could wake up having been ripped off and anyone can be assaulted.

  17. 18

    Solid piece, Evan. And I feel the same way. When I was online dating I never felt is was less safe than any other type of dating. I followed my gut, didn’t put myself in precarious situations, and enjoyed myself. I look forward to reading more of your posts, Evan. And I enjoy reading the comments too. 

  18. 19

    I’m not surprised in the slightest, I was always very cautious when I met up with people online. 
    The biggest problem I had with online dating and this is going to sound horribly snobby and mean. However I found that the guys that since the guys didn’t come from my ‘friends of friends’ circle, they were from a different social class. Many were intimidated by the fact I was intelligent and studied a challenging degree. Some even wondered how it was possible… Having gone to a private school, gotten into a challenging university and lived on campus with similar high achieving individuals, I had never experienced that. I was so used to being surrounded by people who understood that if you wanted to have a challenging job/degree whatever, you simply made a plan and followed it. I wasn’t used to hiding my success, let alone being denigrated for it. I know I was given a lot of opportunities by lieu of having very hard working parents.  However none of this is my fault. 
    My current boyfriend was a friend of a friend. He is definitely not as ambitious as I am. However he is very intelligent and comes from a similar background. The benefit is that the doesn’t feel intimidated by my work, on the contrary he is often very eager to help me socialise and destress after a long day. 

  19. 20

    Francesca @19
    “Many were intimidated by the fact I was intelligent and studied a challenging degree”
    News flash: Guys are not  intimidated by these things. A guy could care less about your book smarts and education level. If you look good and are fun to be around, then you could have a PhD from Harvard and be a brain surgeon and it wont scare them off.
    If guys tell you that you are intimidating, it isn’t a compliment. There is something about your looks or personality that is the turn off. My God, women will use anything to justify why guys don’t find them attractive.

  20. 21
    Karl T

    John #20,
    LOL. I thought the same exact thing.  I was going to suggest to Francesa that perhaps these guys simply didn’t find her attractive and that was the reason they didn’t pursue anything further with her!

  21. 22

    ^^ I am sure you guys are right. 
    I’m just glad I have had greater success with people I have met the traditional way. 

  22. 23

    The only difference between online dating and “real world” dating is that you’re being watching online.  You’d think the NSA would do something about all these internet scammers though.

  23. 24

    It feels like a win win situation to me for both parties if a man who is not attracted to a women who is  not attracted to him doesn’t pursue her. That would feel like a good thing to me. I personally only like being with people who I  feel attracted to to and who are also attracted to me.

  24. 25

    I’d also think that the types of crimes committed by online- vs. “real life” dates varies differently.  If you already had a connection with someone and felt some sort of chemistry (that can only happen in person), you’d probably pay less attention to red flags, be more inclined to drink too much and the types of crimes that may occur could be sexual assault or date rape, but online predators probably have a much different system.  I feel like this is why you see the MySpace pedophiles and Craigslist killers.

  25. 26

    Feels odd that it’s called online dating as there is no real date until people actually meet. It is all just fantasy and imaginary ‘dating’ up until that point.

  26. 27
    beth hawkins

    This is where i have a problem with online dating,  one is communicating with is an unknown person. There is a danger to that, just from experience. Offline is safer because you know who you are talking to, get to be around them and have a feel for what their personality is like, unlike internet dating  one is not sure if the other person is a he or she. Quiet frankly, Online dating seems like a lazy form of dating.

  27. 28

    Msg 10
    The survey was commissoned by EHarmony and the individual who conducted it is a paid scientific adviser to EHarmony  No bias there LOL
    Seriously it will be years before one can state that marriages where the parties met online last longer and/or happier online dating has been around what 10 years at the most? 
    Also people dating online tend to be older (30-39) the is what is considered older?!!
    Online dating is a business and those with a financial interest in it will continue to tout it’s superiority to sell their product.  As with anything else buyer beware,

  28. 29

    Beth 27
    Have you ever heard stories about women who were attacked or raped that met guys offline in person somewhere? I think I hear about that on the news fairly frequently.
    Before online dating there were plenty of very convincing con men out there who mislead women. One mild example is the number of men Ive met out and about who claim to be single but are in fact married. 
    Are you speaking from your own experience of online dating or are you just speculating?  
    Ive found online dating anything but lazy. To create a great profile takes effort and so does screening people in a smart intuitive way.
    I talk everyday to people I may not know  There is nothing inherently dangerous about that.

  29. 30
    Karl T

    Beth #27,
    I take extreme offense to you calling online dating a “lazy form of dating”.  I go to work everyday (am a design engineer) and travel a commute of 1 hour plus each way (52 miles each way).  I also spend time with my family (brother, sister, parents, nieces).  My parents are in their 70’s and my dad has had an illness where he can’t do things around the house that much anymore, so I go over there and mow the lawn, vacuum their pool, etc.  Today I have to go there to fix their pool filter.  I also have 2 great neices and sometimes watch their soccer games.  I own a town house and live alone, so I have to take care of everything at my own place too.  I don’t have that much time to go out to bars and clubs much at all anymore.  I also workout weightlifting 4-5 days a week to look good and to keep healthy.  I meet women throughout my travels- the supermarket at lunchtime, the bank, the gym, etc.  I have become fearless (I used to be extremely shy) and can approach women anywhere and make conversation and eventually ask them out or ask for their number.  95% of the time I don’t succeed, but I have gotten a few numbers and one date.  If I relied on meeting people in the real world, being as busy as I am and going out as seldom as I do (and not by choice) I would have very few dates.  I still have very few dates being online, but it still increases my chances of meeting someone.  I don’t love online dating, but I just use it as a supplemental form of a way to meet people.  For you to call it a lazy way of dating is absurd.  Do you think I am a lazy person??  What an extremely shortsighted comment to make.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *