August 24, 2011
Can Match.com save you from dating a sex offender?
Match.com has agreed that they will start screening their members to ensure they are not sex offenders. While it is certainly a nice gesture, and one that will protect people, it is not going to make a tangible difference in how people date online. At the end of the day, people must be more careful when choosing who to date, whether they meet online or not.
This came about when Carole Markin was sexually assaulted after a date with Alan Paul Wurtzel, who she met on Match.com, and who is a convicted sex offender. Had Markin done a simple Google search of Wurtzel, she would have seen that he was a sex offender. It’s great that Match is going to run background checks, but we still need to be careful.
I don’t go out with anyone without knowing their last name, finding out where they work, and doing a Google search. It’s not a guarantee that I will be safe, nor does it give me a sense of false security, but it only takes a minute, and in the case of someone like Wurtzel, could protect me. Match is doing what all sites should do, but it’s not fool proof.
Do we ever know who are dating? People lie about their height and age, but people also lie about being a sex offender whether you meet them online, in a bar, at the grocery store, or in temple or church. Nobody is going to tell you they like long walks on the beach, red wine, and sexually assaulting women. Some lies transcend all types of dating. Important to note that just because someone is not in the sexual offenders database, does not mean they are not a sexual offender.
It is an industry changing decision for Match.com to take this step, and while eHarmony does it already, Match is the industry leader, and what they do, and don’t do, matters. This decision however, should not make anyone dating online feel any safer. Good for them for doing the right thing, but we need to meet them halfway and do our part.
Always meet people in a public place, and don’t invite them to your home. Find out their last name, and where they work. Do a Google search to see if any red flags come up. Search for them on Facebook and see if you know people in common. We live in a digital and connected time and to not use the resources available to us is stupid. Use the Internet to help you.
Dating is brutal. Meeting a complete stranger to hang out and have a drink is odd, and even if you spend hours on the phone, they are still a stranger. Know that. You have a responsibility to date responsibly. It’s all a crapshoot and in the end do we ever really know someone? I married a man and 5 years later divorced someone else. You really just never know.
The chances of meeting someone to share your life with are not great. I believe there is someone for everyone, and truly hope we get more than one shot at finding them, so if online dating helps my odds then I’m in. Although I doubt I will find my soulmate online, I will follow the example set by Match.com, and be careful, cautious, and proactive in my search. All we can really do is cross our fingers, try to be safe, pray, and keep the faith.