When was the last time you went on a blind date, a true blind date in which you knew very little about the other person you were about to meet and spend a few hours with? Probably 1997. These days, even before the first coffee date, both individuals want to be moderately knowledgeable of the other beforehand – do we have anything in common, what’s his or her work status, what’s his or her political beliefs? With online dating, this isn’t hard to do, assuming a profile is accurate. But over the past few years, authenticity and honesty through the internet have come into question, and now background checks appear poised to become more prominent in internet dating.
Recently, a woman wrote to advice column Ask Amy about the same subject – running a background check before the first date. She wanted to make sure that the person she’s meeting does not have a criminal record. Amy, on the other hand, tells the letter-writer to just use common sense – after all, that’s what everyone did before online dating became acceptable – and to hold off on the background check until you know the individual better.
What do you think? Should the letter-writer have gone with her instincts, or is running a background check before the first date just too paranoid?
The media certainly doesn’t help. While a story of two people meeting through online dating and successfully hitting it off won’t make the news, a woman raped after her second date by a man she met on Match.com will. Match.com, in response to a lawsuit, changed its policies and now screens everyone wanting to use the dating site.
Perhaps, then, a background check before using a dating site is necessary to identify criminals, sex offenders, and scam artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. While Amy is likely right in stating the letter-writer should trust her instinct and wait for the background check, a dating website should be taking precautions with its members, as well.