It’s another “ripped from the headlines” themed article this week. January has been nothing but one weird online dating related story after another. And I feel compelled to tie it in to savvy tips to help my readers enter the online dating scene armed with the knowledge to be smart daters. In today’s cautionary tale, we have the story of Mary Kay Beckman. Mary Kay was the unfortunate victim of an enraged ex, Wade Ridley. Mary Kay met Wade on Match.com and when she chose to end things, he flew into a rage and physically assaulted her – landing her in the hospital with life threatening injuries. As a result, Mary Kay Beckman is suing Match.com for damages numbering in $10M. Her case stands on the basis that because Match.com didn’t do a background check (in addition to other measures) on her ex Wade Ridley, they essentially endangered her life.
Now for the record, what happened to Mary Kay is absolutely horrible and atrocious. As it turns out this wasn’t Ridley’s first time that he “flew into a rage” as he was guilty of murdering an ex which ultimately landed him in jail where he died last year. However, in her particular case, Wade didn’t have a record at the time of her assault so a background check wouldn’t have necessarily done her any good. Likewise, this poor woman could meet someone offline who’s still equally volatile and unstable. But this horrible situation does raise some valid points.
Match.com, like several other major dating sites is not a private matchmaker. And although they do take steps to prevent people such as those listed on sex offender registrations from joining, there’s a limit to what they can do. If Match.com or other dating sites began asking you to provide your social security number so they could run a thorough background check prior to joining, I think most people would find that to be an invasion of privacy – and hence the conundrum. While I don’t feel that an online dating site should be held accountable for fully vetting your dates for you, I do believe that there are steps that you can take so that you’re enjoying online dating, but responsibly and safely. Please note, these tips also work for relationships that start offline as well.
If online dating has you spooked, you have the right to ask someone for information, or run a background check. Of course, this might limit your dating pool significantly as it can appear intrusive to the average person. But, it’s your life, your security and it’s your right to request it.
Seriously! In this tech age, if you can’t afford a background check and you want to be stealth, a simple Google search can possibly give you some insight into someone’s state of mind, their social circles and more. And this should be done before you decide to share your phone number, where you work, etc.
Don’t get a case of diarrhea of the mouth:
You know the type, this person just keeps sharing, sharing and sharing more personal info about themselves too soon. The urge to want to connect with someone on an emotional level can be strong. But before you start talking about all your deep dark stories too soon, make sure you actually feel that the person you’re connecting with is worthy of your secrets. Once you make the emotional connection (even if it’s one sided) you’re going to be less likely to objectively notice if the person you’re dating is really a good match for you. Keep things light until you’ve fully vetted Mr. or Miss. X.
Don’t invite people over to your house right away:
According to Mary Kay Beckman’s case, she broke up with Wade Ridley after a few dates, only to find him in her house (which is when he attacked her) after the breakup. Not knowing how much is “a few dates” I would strongly recommend – especially for women – not to be so quick to invite someone over to your house. Once they know where you live, there’s no stopping them from visiting you whenever they feel like it. As someone who knows what it’s like to have an ex show up on my doorstep unannounced and unwanted, I can tell you with certainty that it would take more than “three or four” dates for me to want to invite you over.
Trust your gut:
I know I sound like a broken record, but this is probably always going to be one of your best ways to stay safe. In cases of domestic abuse and violent behavior, it’s very rare that someone just “snaps”. Usually they’ve been aggressive physically in the past or have even belittled or talked down to you at some point. Whether it’s a man or woman verbally/physically abusing a person, it’s NOT acceptable and you should never assume that the person will change. They don’t change, they’re always going to be that way.
Don’t feel compelled to go on more than one date:
This is especially for women and kind of goes hand in hand with the above “trust your gut” statement. Don’t let someone guilt you into a second date if the first date didn’t wow you. If you got a weird vibe from your date, or just weren’t interested, don’t let someone Jedi mind trick you into committing to a second date. Although you can certainly grow to like a person, sometimes things just aren’t meant to be. Round peg – square hole; if it doesn’t fit don’t continue to allow yourself to get invested in something that won’t work.