In Online Dating, Danger Doesn’t Discriminate

Everyone and their mother is on OkCupid, the dating website and smartphone app that pretty much has “giving up” in its title. Looking for food, companionship, and/or sex on a Saturday night? Well, “Ok” is the best you’re going to get.

Whether or not you still feel optimistic about OkCupid—something I consistently struggle with—the site has received almost 75 million visits in the last month. I happen to be one of the visitors and although this no longer makes me feel desperate, it doesn’t mean I have to feel safe.

I joined the site a couple of months ago at the insistence of friends who are all relatively active in New York’s “hooking up” scene. I had never particularly wanted to “hook up” or “get coffee” with “someone,” but joining seemed like an appropriate step (or misstep) in my life.

I made a profile and added a personal description about how I like Chinese food, hate long walks anywhere, and a bunch of other extraneous details that I dare not divulge at the risk of humiliating myself. Nevertheless, in NYU fashion, I made myself readily available to meet any single guy or gal, between the ages of 18-26, who was looking for carefree fun.

So one night last week, after finishing all of my work, I decided to scavenge for a match. I was looking for anyone who was spontaneous and interested in hanging out. It may have been four in the morning, but I was able to find someone online. I found a 20 year-old person, whose profile I’d rather not describe, who lived nearby and was equally eager to meet up. This person was attractive, around my age, and liked David Lynch—all things that, at the time, I thought were appealing, but later realized said nothing about a person.

As I left my apartment, I didn’t think about the consequences and ignorantly subscribed to the belief that meeting up with strangers is only dangerous for girls. It was a stupid and backwards thought. I only understood this after I arrived at this person’s apartment, knocked on the door, and found myself face-to-face with a 40-something year-old man in a wifebeater, who reached out to grab my wrist as he told me to “Come inside, I don’t bite.” Needless to say, I ran. Fast.

After reporting the user, deactivating my profile, and panicking, I processed the situation. We are all well versed in “stranger danger” from elementary school and that should have been enough to keep me from just going to a stranger’s apartment. So why didn’t it?

It probably has to do with this idea that I (and many of my male friends) have that men are not likely to get raped. But this viewpoint is completely misguided considering that, according to the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 2.78 million men have experienced rape sometime in their life. That’s too great a number for us to hold such a dismissive view of rape on males.

“As men we have always been trained to walk girls home if it’s late at night. As valid as this is, it’s also problematic because it allows us to assume that ‘no one will bother me because I’m a man.’ That’s backwards thinking,” LSP sophomore Christopher Georgiadis said.

With my situation, I definitely had a similar thought process—or lack thereof. I had come to believe that I was less vulnerable than a woman, which is absurd because no one should compete over who is more susceptible to crime. I’m fortunate enough to have been spared from such a trauma and that’s all that matters. But from now on I’ll be more careful–and remember that crimes of this nature don’t discriminate.

 

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One Comment

  • Virginia Roberts
    December 19, 2013

    I’m glad you learned the lesson that women aren’t the only ones who are in danger with online dating. There are many facets to protecting your own safety when you embark on an online dating adventure; despite your unpleasant experience, you CAN online date safely. (That is to say, just as safely as with real-world dating—there are creeps and liars that you meet in person, too, but it’s all about learning how to spot warning signs and how to act with the appropriate precautions.)

    I work full time as an online dating coach, offering personalized advice for different situations. But I keep my safety page public and robust; it’s so important for singles to think beyond just basic safety and I want everyone to be informed! Please check out http://theheartographer.com/safety and feel free to ask if you have any questions. Good luck out there!

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