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The attractions and dangers of online dating

Online dating in 2020 looks very different from what it was like in 1998. I was 15 with my dad’s laptop in hand. New to the internet, I stumbled across chat rooms where people would exchange messages about anything and everything. You never knew who you’d find and what the conversation would be about. My teenage interest was sparked. I went on regularly and looked forward to seeing particular users who I enjoyed chatting with, flirting with, getting to know. A few months later a package appeared in our letterbox. It was addressed to me, from the States. Inside were a few black and white photos of a young man, in his 20’s, posing casually. I’d met him in AOL’s chat room. He’d also included a tape recording of himself playing in a band. He wanted to meet. Yet the distance (and my parents) meant that this was impossible. My parents were horrified that I’d given out my address to a complete stranger. And that was the end of that.

Online dating has become a prominent way to date and meet potential partners. In Australia, it’s the second most preferred way to meet someone, behind meeting someone through family and friends says Relationships Australia. And with that comes the very frequent possibility of being harassed.

@byefelipe is one of several Instagram accounts calling out individuals who are abusing and harassing users on online dating platforms. Women can post comments that consist of any sort of harassment – whether that’s nude selfies, blunt demands for sex, or abusive comments and responses. Many women have been reassured when seeing messages from others, confirming that they are not the only ones. It’s a space where women are given a voice and can share their pain and disappointment in how they’ve been treated. And hopefully, it serves as a learning tool of what not to do.

A 2013 Pew study reports that 42% of women state that they’ve been contacted by someone on a dating site which made them feel harassed or uncomfortable.

It can happen so quickly. One minute you’re playfully exchanging messages, and the next you receive an inappropriate message, harassing you or clearly being hostile. You’re not sure what happened. But you quickly realise that this person isn’t the one you’re after. And frankly, should potentially be banned from the service.

And if not’s getting harassed, there are still some precautions to take when dating online.

Here are a few basic tips to follow:

10 ways to keep yourself safe with online dating
Written by Celine Massa. Photo by Pratik Gupta on Unsplash, Infographic by Visually.




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