"I get by with a little help from my friends."  Sound familiar?  As the Beatles put it so well all those years ago, dating used to involve a little help from your friends, and maybe a little matchmaking from a doting aunt or grandmother.

Enter the digital age. Internet, or online dating, is the new way of meeting people.  Popular apps like Facebook, match.com, eHarmony, OurTime, and Meet Up all offer online matchmaking services. 

So which way is better?

Most experts will tell you that just as job searches in the twenty-first century must incorporate LinkedIn and other networking on social media, searching for that special someone must also incorporate dating sites on social media, even if the online sites are only used to access offline events. That being said, Collin County family law attorneys emphasize that there are pros and cons to consider regarding online dating:

Pro:  40 million singles in the U.S. have tried online dating

Con:   It is a crowded digital marketplace

Pro:    One out of five relationships start online

Con:   People can and do lie about their age, weight, height, income and marital status;

Pro:    You can meet people outside your usual area and social circle

Con:   The online flirting and messaging can become addicting to some who make it a 

           game and never meet people offline.  Beware of the text-but-never-meet

           syndrome

Pro:    It eliminates the bar scene and is available 24/7

Con:   It is available 24/7, can feel like a full-time job and become overwhelming

Pro:    Online profiles match compatible interests, preferences, and ages

Con:   Online profiles do not tell you if you have chemistry with a match.

 

Collin County family law attorneys also caution that online dating sites can be used by people perpetrating scams, by sexual predators, and by identity thieves.  Texas is one of a handful of states that has a law requiring online dating sites to disclose whether they conduct criminal background checks on users, and to offer subscribers advice on keeping safe while using the site.  Some online dating services agree to protect their customers with online safety tools that include checking subscribers against sex offender registries and providing rapid abuse reporting systems for members.  However, these reporting systems can be abused by people who have been rejected and want revenge.  Ultimately, a legitimate question to ask is whether meeting someone after being matched online is any more dangerous than hooking up with someone in a bar.

The acknowledgement that first dates can be not only awkward but risky, whether matched online or met offline, is the reason that the following safety tips apply to both on and offline dating:

1. Don't exchange personal data online or over the phone; wait until you meet the person and establish a level of trust;

2. Stay local;

3. Make sure the person's photo is real;

4. Watch for odd language;

5. Do a google search for your date's name

6. Don't accept a late night date and have your first couple dates in a very public place where you can get to and leave on your own;

7. Never give out financial information.

If you are interested in more information regarding safety in online dating, contact Collin County family law attorneys at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC.