The Huffington Post, along with a number of other online outlets, recently reported on a man choking a woman he met online for appearing different in real life as compared with her online dating profile. Police didn’t immediately confirm the exact nature of the man’s disappointment, but in any case we can note a number of things that went wrong here before this unpleasant incident occurred.
The main point is that the accused choker was obviously over-invested in this particular meeting. While we have no idea if the man has a violent criminal record or previous issues with managing his disappointment, we do have a few suggestions on what he could have done differently to prevent this situation from occurring in the first place:
1. Don’t Assume Someone is Your Girlfriend or Boyfriend Until You’ve Met Them in Person.
A striking detail about the article is that the accused had attacked his “girlfriend.” That means he had already made an emotional commitment to the person before actually meeting them. While moving at the speed of Tinder can be dangerous, building up a romantic relationship exclusively online can be just as damaging and put you at risk for catfish scenarios or scams. Try to meet a romantic interest within a few weeks of conversing and before you get emotionally involved. If you feel uncertain, you can always run a background check.
2. Set Expectations Beforehand
Looks mean a lot to some people and physical chemistry can be a necessary starting point for many relationships. Dated photos are quite a common ploy on online dating sites, and many people don’t have sinister intentions by leaving a photo up of them from a year or more ago. It may not be a catfish scenario but it can be misleading. If physical appearance is important to you, be upfront about it. Ask to see a current selection of photos and connect to social media profiles for added verification. A background check can help you uncover all of someone’s current and historical social media networks if you feel like you are at risk of being duped.
3. Keep First Meetings Low Stakes
The accused man not only drove across state lines but also actually moved from Kentucky to Georgia before seeing his online “girlfriend” for the first time. We suggest meeting up at a neighborhood coffee shop or nearby Public Park during the day for a first in-person date. The time and cost commitment will be low, so if you are disappointed by the person’s appearance or personality, you can make a quick exit without too severe of a loss of time or money.
While misleading profiles come with the territory of a brave new world of online dating, we hope the steps above will help you to minimize any fallout.
Has a background check helped you avoid a hassle? Let us know in the comments.