“Online dating sites are increasingly popular, with some experts predicting that they’ll become the leading way for singles to find a compatible match in the very near future. With more users than ever, though, these online matchmaking powerhouses have become just another target for sexual predators and convicted sex offenders to look for unsuspecting targets of their next crime. This is a sad reality, and it’s one that can endanger the well-being of many online daters, if they don’t pay careful attention to the Mr. or Ms. Right who contacts them via their profile at major dating websites.”                           

- Jessica Ruane on July 27, 2012 · Social

The above quote may sound like a real downer, but this issue is a biggie when it comes to personal safety and the vast World Wide Web. Sexual predatory behavior is definitely worth paying attention to when exploring online dating.

If you’re truly looking for lasting love, then you’ll definitely want to hear this.

In the first place, most of the women I’ve spoken with about online dating regularly express their exasperation about men mainly wanting sex from them, rather than a true, all-encompassing love relationship. Are you listening, men?

A lot of women, and I mean a lot of women, are sick and tired of being hit on, online or otherwise. They’re already fearful of and sensitive to any kind of predatory behavior. So guys, you might want to can the online sex talk – or anything that even comes close to it.

And to you ladies who may be sincerely searching for a meaningful and long-lasting love: be careful about how you display your sexual prowess in order to attract a man online. If you make it all about sex, you’re likely to attract someone who’s interested in only that one thing and possibly, something far worse.

Sad to say, sexual predators are out there waiting to take advantage of you; that is, if you’re not paying attention.

Pay attention to the red flags!

One of the first red flags to keep an eye out for is the pressure to communicate via instant messaging or personal email – a communication outlet completely separate from the dating site. In this way, any sexual predator can operate with more freedom and impunity without the usual constraints and rules of an online dating site.

Not only that, but many sexual predators may sometimes ask you for money and seek out very personal information – another red flag.

A healthy dating prospect will be consistent as to who they really are, as shown by the appropriate ways that they represent themselves to you. They’ll tend to follow the rules and restrictions set down by the particular dating service. They’ll be more likely to take things at a reasonable pace, especially when it comes to sexuality, without urgent demands for a hasty meeting.

Dating sites and their latest efforts

Fortunately, for online seekers of love, many dating sites are doing more to screen out possible sexual predators, usually right from the initial sign-up. In 2012, a few online dating services even agreed to take steps to ward off potential sex offenders, thereby protecting more unsuspecting online daters.

But, sadly, most of these screening processes are not fool-proof. Some sexual predators will surely slip through the safety net, although it’s still good to know that online services are doing more these days to protect their customers.

Still, most dating services don’t typically conduct background checks, even though there’s been a recent legislative push to pass laws to make the internet safer.

In fact, some online companies are now required, by law, to disclose if they are conducting background checks or not, under the new threat of hefty fines.

And some of the major online dating services are now voluntarily posting safety tips and providing easier ways to report any online improprieties. These companies are encouraging their new users to read some basic, common sense guidelines for safe online dating.

At least they’re trying, right?

Observe and stay vigilant

So, it’s a good thing to approach online dating with some thoughtful observation and good common sense.

If it doesn’t feel right, move on to the next profile, to your next dating prospect. If you’re encountering wild and crazy demands for sex, money, or your social security number, report it and move on to a more appropriate and satisfying potential match.

Some parting words about sex

There’s no question that sex, especially when it comes to initial attraction, is way up on the list, and begs to be considered, as you begin to communicate with your prospective dating partner. But, maybe you’ll want to save broaching this touchy subject for when you’re actually dating, when you’re in the other’s presence, and have built up some quality time together – when mutual trust has been firmly established.

Maybe you’ll want to take time to know just who you’re dealing with on that other computer, before you move ahead with your dating plans – an essential strategy when opening yourself to potential love on the internet.

So, have fun with your online search for love, but be vigilant, too!

*If you have something you’d like to add to this article, a related experience, an idea, or an observation, please let me know in the comment section below.

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