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More than ever reliance on technology for communication is at an increase, especially when dating. Dating sites and apps provide unique opportunities to find someone you may have never crossed paths with before and fast. But while there are a few successful love stories after online beginnings, there are also plenty of dating nightmares. 

Online, there is an increased risk that someone is not who they say they are. A person could lie in-person as well, but online it’s much easier to manipulate appearances and information as complete strangers. Online, someone is only what they choose to present themselves as, while face-to-face one can pick up on body language, tone of speech, and real-time conversations. 

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The best scenario is it’s just a catfish (although that situation is also creepy and awkward), but in certain situations, online dating can even be dangerous. So while it may just be fast hookups for some, it’s also fast victims for predators. 

In a study by the Pew Research Center of Internet & Technology, the statistics of online dating seem grim. Of the 30% of Americans who use dating apps, only 12% have found committed relationships from using the service. But this may depend on who you are and who you are looking for. 

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Online dating services are popular among the LGBTQ+ community (55% of LGB members use dating apps and sites) as their preferences are often much harder to find in-person than “traditional” relationships. Their success is also much higher (20% of meetings lead to successful relationships and surveys show they generally have better experiences) probably due to its high usage by others of their sexual preference. 

In the case of young (and seemingly) heterosexual women, however, dating apps and sites are often a breeding ground for harassment. 60% of women users under the age of 35 report continued contact from users they had already let down, and 57% report receiving unwarranted sexually explicit messages. 

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But scams, rude behavior, and harassment are still not the worst-case scenario. Infamous cases such as the brutal murder of single mother Sharon Siermans whose home was broken into after she refused a second date to a Tinder match and was killed as a result is a tragic reminder. 

A quick google search provides a myriad of similar horrific cases. Criminals take advantage of online services to lure scam and even murder victims. Cases such as these speak to the precautions everyone should take when meeting a stranger from online:

It’s important to look up who you are meeting before the date to find any possible criminal history, tell a trusted friend or family member where and who you are planning to meet, bringing your own transportation to the date, and making sure to meet in a public place. 

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The increased risk of robbery or murder is just the cherry on top of multiple other negative factors of online dating. Online dating makes finding a partner seems more easy and efficient, but the majority of Americans find online dating services have no impact on their relationships, while 26% find it actually has a negative impact compared to the 22% who say there is a positive effect. 

So is online dating worth it? Perhaps for some (especially during COVID-19), but of those some, they should be informed of the increased risks involved and take major precautions before they meet anyone from online platforms. For the majority of Americans however sticking to finding someone from work, clubs, or social groups is a smarter choice time and safety-wise. 

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