Be Safe, Part II: Woman looking for man, lots of money, nice car, washboard abs

Staff Writer Tech 13 Comments

Vero Pepperrell writes… In last week’s post, I talked about keeping our personal data safe from ill-wishers by being cautious with our credit cards and PIN codes.  But this week, I wanted to find out what other women think of watching out for something slightly less tangible: our personal life.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I met my husband online, then travelled halfway across the world from Canada to live with him in the UK. This was about 4 years ago, and already, the online meeting scene seems to have evolved and changed so much. Speaking to strangers online doesn’t raise eyebrows anymore, does it? Even meeting them, whether as friends or for a date doesn’t surprise friends and family.

Sites like MySpace are targetting teenagers, allowing them to build a network of friends, but with an estimated 55 million users, there’s also a number of grownups are also using it. Friendster serves a similar purpose, allowing users to contact old friends, classmates or any other user. The advantage is that these sites aren’t explicitely there to match people up, so if you’re unsure of your own intentions, you’re still able to present yourself as looking for friendships.

Dating sites like Dateline and Lavalife are different – there’s no way around it, they’re there to match people up. Nowadays, since everyone lives at hyperspeed, it’s a socially accepted way to meet new potential mates.

It’s possible to meet people online in the least likely of places too – Discussion boards, blogs and even in-game chats! (Mid-World of Warcraft shoot out "Oh so sorry I shot you! Fancy going for a drink?") In fact, it’s on a discussion forum that I met my other half, "introduced" online by some common friends.

Are there really risks?

So I met a man online and 4 years on, he didn’t turn out to be a madman, we’re happily married, white picket fence and all that jazz. Does this mean we should chuck our inhibitions out the window and trust everyone we meet online? Obviously not, I think we can all agree that players, perverts and scam artists are everyone, as much online as offline in the "real world".  Granted, it’s less likely your drink will be spiked while chatting online, but there are still many reasons to be careful.

While talking online, don’t give away all your personal information immediately. There’s no reason to give him your full address, mother’s maiden name and bra size. At least, not all at once!  Turn on all your spidey senses – is he being cagey about where he lives or what he does in life? If he’s not being forthcoming and as open as you are, maybe he’s got something to hide!

If you decide you do want to take it off the internet and start speaking on the phone, take his phone number, at least the first time. You don’t want to have to change your number because he turns out to be some sleaze-bag who insists on calling to serenade you every night when he leaves the pub.

It probably is a good idea to meet him in a group the first time. Not only is it safer to be surrounded by other people when meeting a stranger, it can also save you long periods of silence if you suddenly realise you have very little to talk about.

Trust your close friends if they tell you they’re getting a bad vibe from your new friend, as they may be seeing something you don’t see since you’re still wearing rose-tinted glasses. Certain stats claim up to 30% of people on dating websites actually aren’t single at all! (but we all know that 87.3% of stats are made up…)

Really, it’s just a question of being smart and keeping your feet on the ground. Girls just wanna have fun, but a little care makes life a lot more fun!

Have you had any good, bad or dreadful experiences meeting people online? Did he turn out to have given you fake pictures? Do you believe you can find the right person for you through the Internet? [VP]

By Staff Writer | August 4th, 2006

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  • ash

    Hi Vero, came here from your blog.
    I had a good experience with meeting someone online – also, as it happens, someone across the Atlantic. Through e-mail and the like over many months, we became very good friends and realised we wanted more than that.
    The first time we met was at Heathrow airport, and it was weird for about two minutes but that was it.

    We had a great, long term relationship but sadly there was no happy ending. My opinion of meeting people through the Internet though was changed a lot by that experience.

  • Erin

    Geek extraordinaire that I am, I met my now-fiancee in a Lord of the Rings forum on the ‘net in Jan 2004 :) (it started out as a ‘tongue in cheek’ matchmaking forum, and continues now, three years on, as a close-knit community of friends)

    We started out just knowing of one another in the forum, started chatting on messenger, then progressed to phone calls. As heady a time as it was, I still felt it was important to remain cautious, so it was he who flew 12,500 miles from Scotland to meet me in Australia.

    We had a wonderful two weeks together, he got along famously with friends and family, but given the distance, we weren’t sure what to do. After much discussion, we decided that he would come to live in Australia for 12 months, and then I would go to live in Scotland for 12 months after that, if our relationship continued to thrive.

    It did, I’m in my 10th month living in Scotland, and we’re in the process of visa applications to get him back to Australia. We plan to get married in July/August next year :)

    So – another happy ending for you!

    As an aside – I don’t have many qualms about meeting people through the internet, but still feel that caution is the way to go. One of the great things about the internet is that you can remain anonymous to whatever degree you want, until you feel comfortable enough to divulge more. In fact, I know more people who’ve had issues with meeting people in person – who then turn out to be dodgy – who are VERY hard to get rid of.

    Thank goodness for ‘delete and block’ on MSN, eh?

    Also, I’m pretty sure there’s research out there saying that people are more likely to communicate honestly on the ‘net, because there’s less a sense of the ‘other person’, and a greater feeling of intimacy (weird, huh?). I did my honours thesis on a topic close to this, and as I recall, the phenomenon is called the ‘hyperpersonal communication framework’, if anyone’s interested in finding out more.

  • The Bag Lady

    I met my boyfriend of 2 years through tinernet – I posted an ad on a dating site and he responded!

    Like with all things, you must play by your instincts – if it feels right, go for it. I did meet up with him initially by taking along a big butch male friend just in case, I think it’s important to do that, as you never know who you’re going to meet.

    I thoroughly recommend meeting people from online, offline – getting to know someone over tinternet is much more personal and intimate I think than meeting in a bar, club etc.

  • william

    man looking for woman

  • nono

    please type in the code exactly as provided, if you are unable to see the code properly please reload the page to get a new captcha code.

  • Raj


  • John

    i hope its good

  • saviour

    Good Day,
    I am writing you this letter out of a need to help myself for a better life with a legacy inherited from my Family.
    You do not know me but I believe that it is better for me to seek a total stranger rather than be entwined with Family bond that can mislead and end a legacy which my Father worked so hard for.
    My name is David Dickson and I am Native of Sierraleone , I want you to read this carefully and not disclose this to anyone else
    as i have decided that i dont want my Elder brother to have any Idea of what i intend to do.
    I have in Possesion about 10 kg of Diamonds which is just a part of some wealth my Father had in his safe before he passed away.
    Basically my father was part of the Ruling Chiefs in a village where a Diamond mine is located, i choose not to disclose location until i am certain of your interest in what i propose. I have kept this diamond in a safe place with out the consent of my brother who is the rightful person to have this, but i decided not to hand it to him as he is very larvish and has been living extravagantly on my fathers money without even having to share some with me out of greed and wanting to be superior. He rather has friends ostly women whom end up using him as a gold mine unknowningly to him.
    I do not know what to do with these diamonds locally as any attempt on my part would be disclosed to my brother by any diamond dealer here because my family name is known and i am the last born of my father.
    I seek to make very good use of this little fortune in establishing a business empire in the long run knowing fully well that diamonds worth a lot of money but i would need a partner who would help in frontiering and making this possible for me.
    I am willing to share the proceeds with you if you would be interested in helping me secure this diamonds out of Sierraleone and get market for it. I know that with you in the developed country there would be no problem in doing this because i might be seen as not in the capacity to be in possesion of such precious stones and moreover i do not want my family and brother to know about this as it may lead to total forfeiture of my place in the family even though i more or less dont have a say in my family.
    I have planned every details of how we can do this successfully , you have everything to gain in this and so i want you to treat this very seriously and get back to me through email for now if you are going to help me in this and at the end i want to relocate to your country and start a new life and if possible we both partner in a business that is profitable in your country as investment.
    Please write me back as soon as possible , everyday counts.
    Mr David Dickson

  • tonny

    Hi to you over there ,i am tonny scott form south africa , i am ligth in complesion ,iam 20 of age and also a buildind contrator.

    I am looking for an angel that be my fiace that can be with me forever.pls if you have interested in this pls mail me or mail to online at sollgen that is my messager.

  • sarah

    my name is sarah i am interested in a man that is caring,loving and so on.


    Hallo VERO,
    I’ am ERIC BORN IN REPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE OF CONGO, I’ AM graduated in information technology(networking)but non i’am in SOUTH AFRIACA.

    I’am 28 old, i seen your picture, i’miss you so much and i’ waiting for your answers. thank bay.


    Since iseen you through the picture,i am not right, i need a answer soon possible, because i miss you so much and i am ready to get marrit with you.
    now, i’ am waiting for my favorable answers bay.

  • amir