Online dating has become a huge phenomenon for single people to meet others to form relationships. There are now tons of apps and websites that allow users to create profiles which include pictures and bios of yourself while also allowing easy access to speak to others you are interested in. While some people have actually made good connections and relationships by using online dating resources, there is a much darker side to online dating that involves lying, harassment, and even sometimes violence.
One of the biggest issues when it comes to online dating is users are lying in order to seem more desirable than they really are. This can take place in two different ways, the first is tweaking small things about yourself online like photoshopping a picture or lying in your bio to make yourself seem more attractive to other people. Almost everyone is associated with this because people tend to choose the pictures that they believe they look the absolute best in to get more people to like their profile. The second form of deception is when people catfish others online. Catfishing is when you create a fake online persona maybe even using someone else’s real pictures in order to build relationships with real people online. This is extremely common in online dating and can cause serious issues such as “trust issues, emotional devastation, and monetary loss.” (PsychCentral) According to PEW Research Center report date October 16th-28th, 2019 71% of online dating users believe that people lie about themselves in order to appear more desirable online. 71% is a very high number which is why these profiles are not all trying to catfish people but most are simply real people trying to make themselves look as desirable as possible. This report also showed that 50% of users believe people create accounts in order to scam other people. According to a 50-year-old female when asked directly about this statistic “I find it hard to believe that the number would be that high because if they believed 50% of the accounts were scams why would anyone ever do it”
Harassment through these online dating profiles are also very common people believe that since they are speaking to you online that they can say whatever they like because they are not face to face with the person they are harassing. When people are rejected online, they try to save their face and feel better about themselves which leads to them harassing others online. (ABC) According to PEW Research Center October 16th-28th 28% of online dating users have been called an offensive name and 37% have been continued to be contacted by someone they previously made clear they were not interested in. This is leading to people having bad experiences with online dating that can make them uncomfortable and make them feel helpless. According to a 37-year-old female “I have definitely been contacted on online dating after I was clear that I was not interested but I don’t have experience with being called offensive names.
Violence is one of the most dangerous things that can sometimes come with online dating. People can present themselves and seem to be totally normal online maybe even using a fake persona in order to trick someone with the intent of assault or sexual assault. According to PEW Research Center 46% of adults believe that online dating is not a safe way to meet people in real life. While some can find strong relationships using online resources others are not so fortunate. On February 7th 2020 a York University student reported that she was sexually assaulted early Thursday morning in a freshman dormitory. “The victim said the alleged assault occurred about 1:30 a.m. at the residence hall and involved a male, who was not a student, she met on the dating app Tinder.” (York Dispatch) In this situation the app Tinder was used by a male who didn’t attend York University with bad intentions of how he was planning to use online dating. In this case it was used to assault another user of the app and this is surprisingly very common.
People thinking of creating online dating profiles should be very cautious when making this decision. It is very possible to find a meaningful relationship through these apps but most of the time it leads to what was discussed earlier: lying, harassment, and assault. If one does decide to go ahead and create an online profile you should always remember to use precaution when meeting someone off of the app for the first time. This includes: meeting somewhere in a public place and telling your friends or family what’s going on is very important when keeping yourself safe. Apps like Tinder also give you tons of options when dealing with harassment such as unfriend, block, and reporting options offered.