Old Fashioned Dating is Not Safer Than Online Dating

woman using laptop for 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.

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.  

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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,

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 31

    Beth 27
    Your comment that offline dating is safer because you get a feel for the person is absurd.   As soon as you meet a person that you found online you also get a feel for them.   So prior to the actual meeting the two scenarios are on equal footing – you haven’t met them yet.   Oh wait they’re actually not, because online you also have the advantage of chatting to them beforehand.
    Truly absurd logic.   Prior to actually meeting someone, you haven’t met them yet, make sense?

  12. 32

    Karl T #30
    My sentiments exactly. Anyone saying online dating is lazy seems particularly uniformed and unsophisticated in their thinking process .
    I will add that because of online dating Ive met some really interesting people and even if it doesn’t turn into a romantic match, I invariably learn something that is useful to me.
    2 weeks ago a CFO I met, discussed some negotiating tips that were helpful when I sold my car last weekend. Ive met lawyers , architects, trainers for the NBA, guys who were athletes in Europe, music producers, cross fit gym owners etc…. All of these guys had something interesting to say and I would not have come across them in my normal environment. I go on approx 2 dates a week because Im selective. Once I understood the mirroring technique and learned not to be attached to an outcome its been fun and an interesting learning experience.   
    Some of the people who seem most adamantly against online dating seem to have no personal experience with it or are those that could benefit from Evans advice the most.

  13. 33

    So many people date online nowadays that it has become just as “normal” as any other way of meeting. I think there is still a bit of a stigma held over from the old days of lonely-hearts club ads and personal ads, and the idea that if you can’t meet someone in real life, there is something wrong with you. Despite any of the drawbacks, I certainly can meet many more men through online dating than I would IRL.
    I don’t think online dating is lazy at all, unless someone approaches it in a lazy way. But if you are serious about it, it takes quite a bit of time to compose an interesting profile, put up photos, and evaluate other people’s ads, as well as exchange emails, talk on the phone once or twice, and then actually set up a meeting. And I’ve never had a problem determining the gender of any person I’ve been dealing with!

  14. 34

    The advantage also of online dating, is that you are meeting people who most times have said upfront that they want a serious relationship.
    Most of the connections I have made with guys online where we have gone out have had a definite “going somewhere” feel to them, as opposed to the drunken exchanges in bars where a hook up or possibly furious text messaging is followed by an awkward silence.
    I would say the only means of meeting guys that I prefer to online is meeting guys through a friend – not a set up or a blind date, but a meeting each other at a social get-together scenario.   There is nothing quite like the thrill of coming to a party not knowing anyone or not knowing if you’re going to have a good time, and then talking with someone that you “click” with 😉

  15. 35
    beth hawkins

    I actually enjoy reading the statements of people on this blog defending online dating sites. To each its own, online works for some and not for others. That is the reality of the online dating experience. I have personally known people who had been online dating for years without much success. Eventually, they got frustrated and gave up after years of wasted money. In response to kathleen, yes i have used online dating and quiet frankly, i did not enjoy it at all. Some men were just strange, either they are married, or in a committed relationship. Most of the time they are not even truthful about their intentions, especially men who use dating sites to hook up for sex. I am not just referring to younger guys but older guys as well. By the way, there is no guarantee that who you met online will turn out to be who they claim to be.

    1. 35.1

      Out of interest, Beth, how long did you try online dating? If you tried it for a month, that’s like going to one bar a week for four weeks and giving up on bars as  you didn’t yet meet your future husband. Or trying a class for a month and giving up as you didn’t meet anyone.

      “I have personally known people who had been online dating for years without much success”

      I have personally known people who never used online dating who were single for years without success meeting anyone in real life. Should we give up on real life? Meeting someone can be tricky. Online dating gives us another avenue to try.

      Online dating has it’s definite flaws, but it’s untrue that most men online are married, strange or liars. That may have been your experience, but Evan wouldn’t be promoting online dating if it was filled with strange, lying, married men. I also wouldn’t be dating online if I found that was the case (neither would the x million people who use it persist if that was the case).

  16. 36

    I’m not going to deny your experience.   Just pointing out that you cannot tar online dating with a broad brush because of it.
    My experience with online dating has been overwhelmingly positive.
    And I would also suggest that one’s approach to online dating and your skill with it has a lot to do with how much you enjoy it, rather than it being the fault of online dating itself.

  17. 37
    Karl T

    Beth #35,
    You are certainly entitled to your own opinion about online dating and whether it has personally worked for you or not.   But what gets me is that you put down people who use it by saying that online dating is a lazy way of dating.   Implying that people who use it are lazy and looked upon in  a negative light.   Do you really feel like people who use online dating are, perhaps ‘losers’.   No you didn’t use that word, but the way your attitude comes off that is what it sounds like what you think of people who date online.

  18. 38

    Sorry to hear of your bad experience with online dating. While you seem influenced by people who are not successful with it , I continue to learn as much as possible (at the age of 54), from people who are good at it and thats why Im on this site.
    I must be doing something right because last night I had a great date with   a lawyer   and I learnt a few things about buying rental property in Texas He called later to ask me out today but I have another date lined up. He didn’t seem the lazy or loser type.
    To say that people may not claim to be who they really are sounds particularly naive. That seems obvious of people in general.

  19. 39

    This is fascinating. I have to say I believe my emotional intelligence improved when I got a few years of online dating under my belt. Just my two cents.

  20. 40

    For me i think both of them have their pros and cons. One can try online dating site if they really cant find anyone out there. There are people out who just do not have the luck to find their love ones and therefore these people would probably try online dating.Maybe try something like only go to dating site that is reputable.Besides, never give out your personal information until you really know that guy. I think these are the 2 important note that people can take note.

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