Writing last’s week post made me freshly aware of the importance of applying caution to meeting anyone in person. While humor abounds in the anecdotes of online dating encounters, and I have a fairy tale story, the possibility of real danger does exist. Therefore, I want to explore some sobering statistics and how the “red flags” I mentioned last time can help us.
According to the Department of Justice, 4 out of 5 women assaulted (specifically, raped) knew their attacker in some way. We tend to think of rape as being a violent act perpetrated by a psychotic stranger and therefore we may entertain a false sense of security thinking that if we know someone we must be safe. Given the anonymity of internet dating, it behooves us to take care as we communicate with strangers especially when deciding if, when and how we will meet them face to face.
As you’ve discovered, this post leans more to the sober side of internet dating. Concern for people’s potential distress has tempered my writing tonight with the importance of exercising wisdom and relying on God-given intuition. Hence, the deeper investigation of “red flags.”
What are they? Well, here is a list based on my own experiences as well as those of some good friends:
- Receiving an email recounting the wonderful night you spent together when you haven’t even heard from the person in days or weeks(let alone gone out with them recently)—clue: they are seeing someone else and you might want to let them know that they need to keep their dates straight. While it is not a crime to date more than one person at a time, expect honesty and openness about your dating arrangement.
- Someone talking about their sexual exploits whether past or current is TMI (too much information for you non-texters) and reveals the baggage they carry. Bragging, boasting or neediness exploits you.
- Someone you are communicating with continuing to talk about a past relationship discloses their ongoing yearning, not for you, but for another—as my friend says “no one should be anesthesia for someone else’s problems.” That includes their lingering broken heart.
- People who speak disrespectfully about the opposite sex—for example giving the message that “men(women) are stupid,” or saying things like “when I get him/her trained the way I want them” ; generally, using sexist remarks indicates a misconception of or a “hatred” for the opposite sex, or an insecurity with their own sexuality.
- Anyone who is controlling. Control in women often manifests in manipulation (think guilt trips, whining, begging, veiled threats); in men it may be more along the lines of violence (raised voice, bullying tone, rough handling like hanging up, grabbing your hand or arm, slamming a door). If someone tells you that you had better think or act a certain way about an issue or about them, you might think twice about continuing the communication!
- You should be free to pursue a relationship at a pace that is comfortable for you. When someone pressures you into ANYTHING including physical contact, their interest is for themselves not you. If they truly care about you, they will wait patiently for you to feel comfortable and safe with them and with the situation.
- Beware of charm, and flattery. Mild two sided teasing or bantering can be enjoyable flirtation, but be cautious if the joking is pretentious or too personal. Using words such as “hottie,” “babe,” or “sexy” is not appropriate, especially if you barely know the person.
Be safe, not sorry. The right relationship is worth waiting for and will feel right. Don’t ignore your intuitive sense that something is off, even if it seems like you can’t pinpoint it. The small nudges of discernment add up to a big payoff when they keep you protected.
If you have been the victim of a crime, including rape, you may find this site helpful: www.stopviolence.com
Next week look for….How Do I Know When it’s Real?