The issue is that with online dating, you often lose some of the context you would have had for meeting someone (through a mutual friend, through work, etc.).
Consequently, some of the safety nets you would have in place to learn more about a person before getting into a relationship no longer exist. It used to be that you would need a lot of information – social security number or driver’s license number, date of birth, etc. Fortunately, powerful public records databases – like the ones used in our people search below – are able to track down all manner of information with just a name, city and state, and an approximate age.
This week, producer Stephanie Foo tells a story about dating online that is unlike any we’ve ever heard before. But this guy she met, let’s call him John, right from the beginning, John was really warm. He offered her the keys to his apartment really early on in their relationship, which surprised her.
Xero Mailchimp ALEX GOLDMAN: From Gimlet, this is Reply All, a show about the Internet. And everyone knows that when it comes to online dating people can be really non-committal, unwilling to settle down.
And at first she feels bad, like, oh, I shouldn’t snoop on my amazing boyfriend, but her curiosity gets the best of her. And then: SUZANNE: Another box pops up with a girl named Tracey. And I’m wondering is this the same Elizabeth from the photos? CALLER: You know it’s better for me the less girls walking around the city spreading genital herpes, I’ve avoided it thus far so I’d like to continue that trend. What if he was making up a story so he could take advantage of my fears about yellow fever and try to be a hero so he could hit on me too? PJ: Okay so this is a little bit weird but so my girlfriend is Chinese. I haven’t been on a date since I deleted all my dating apps. So when I told Phoebe about not going on any dates she said, that’s not a solution. On the internet, it was so easy for men to look at my picture and see a doe in a field of dandelions. Where they will have to come out from behind their screens.
I see he says the kind of things to her that he says to me, like very sweet boyfriendy kind of things. STEPHANIE: Phoebe loved John, but after watching him betray her over and over again, she broke up with him. STEPHANIE: So this caller tells me this elaborate story of a guy, let’s call him Adam, who apparently dated only Asian women. He manipulated them, abused them, gave them herpes. But I didn’t know whether to be grateful or terrified. I feel like I have to also say that she is the first Asian woman who I’ve dated. PHOEBE: You know, here’s the thing though, I know it’s scary. They’ll actually have to look into my eyes and hold out their hands.
Suzanne lets herself in and to kill time, she goes on his computer, starts working on a resume she’d been touching up and she sees this folder labeled Elizabeth hat’s just been updated. STEPHANIE: Suzanne is furious, but more than anything, she feels like she just needs to know more. It looks like they’ve never met, but he’s making plans with her to meet that week. STEPHANIE: What’s the self-preservation aspect of it? PHOEBE: Yellow fever, serial dater, cheaters, manipulators. STEPHANIE: I totally use the same method Phoebe does, because in my experience in confronting guys with yellow fever, I don’t want to date guys who’ve dated more than two Asian girls before me. And because of the way the world works now, I generally don’t go on dates. It just seems too dangerous, too full of skeezeballs, and it seems, it’s too easy for people who would use me to find me. I mean, it’s the same thing with any kind of heartbreak. STEPHANIE: It’s been a couple months since I deleted all my dating apps and the fear has subsided since then.With the rise in catfishing, people often aren't honest about who they say they are or they misrepresent themselves to an extreme.Because of this, people are becoming increasingly cautious about their potential online matches.Phone numbers that are associated with them might help you figure out where else (and who else) they might be spending their time with.It’s not about a lack of trust – it’s about protecting yourself from emotion or even physical harm.