I have just read this story about a guy who's been serially drugging and raping women he met on match.com. It comes with all the usual women-not-being-believed crap and it's taken forever to get a conviction but it comes hot on the heel of a friend of mine telling me a real horror story about a guy she met on an online dating site. I don't want to get into detail because of course she told me what had happened to her in confidence but trust me it was awful.
Years ago before I met Mr Cru I went on a few of these sites and dated a few guys. I think my batting record was:
1 I didn't fancy and didn't meet up with again.
1 I slept with and dated again but it petered out shortly.
3 I didn't fancy but became friends with (and still am).
So there's certainly a positive side to these sites, I met some cool people (then I went out and picked Mr Cru up in a late night bar. Ha!), but there are risks too. Now of course I'm not trying to write some patronising "women warned about dangers on online dating " piece. I neither think women should stay home nor that the Internet has mystical powers to corrupt your soul (from the woman who blogs ten times a day!). My point is that there are different ways to meet guys and the risks are different:
Through trusted friends is always the safest - because at very least they know it's going to get back to them if they don't respect you.
While out with friends is safer - because your friends are there to make sure you're ok.
On a late night two-person date after randomly meeting on a dating website is riskier, where possible better to meet in the daytime, or meet with a few others. Also better to meet for a meal/cinema/theatre trip rather than straight on to the alcoholic drinks.
Also safer to meet in a country where the police take rape victims seriously and attempt to prosecute cases wherever possible, and where public attitudes towards rape have left the middle ages, i.e. not here.
Maybe match.com and co. could introduce a "see other users ratings" section to their site so you could give jerks no stars!