EDUCATION and PROTECTION: The Keys to Online Dating Success
Oftentimes, I encounter online daters who have followed the adage: “Ready, Fire, Aim.” And they typically regret it.
Successful online dating requires two successful elements: Education and Protection.
Education takes many forms, from learning about which websites are best for you (straight or gay, younger or more mature, special lifestyle interests) to adopting online behaviors that don’t create false expectations in the minds of your potential dates. Then, of course, there’s educating yourself as thoroughly as possible about the person with whom you’re enamored. That’s where a quality background check can really make a difference.
Specifically, in terms of education, follow these simple steps and you should have success:
Write down the qualities of the type of person you’re hoping to meet and what type of relationship you want, ranging from a long-term, monogamous one to just casual or NSA (no strings attached) dating. With more than 1,500 dating sites, there’s a site for everyone.
Start reviewing your online options based on your criteria and other considerations by going to any site’s About Us (or similar background) page. Narrow your list to a dozen or so, then try them for free (most reputable sites will allow you to try for free for a short time, but with only limited access to site functionality). Visit each site every day for a week (or more, if need be) and have your “relationship list” handy. Start eliminating sites that don’t feel right to you – namely, follow your head and heart, but don’t abandon what your intuition is telling you!
Once you’ve found the right site(s), and begin engaging in online dialogue with “someone special,” try to find out as much about them as you can. And what you can’t verify, a reputable background search company CAN! They may be doing the same with you, so be careful not to provide your home or work address, any financial information, or other aspects of your identity that could be compromised.
Both education and protection are best accessed through a person or a company that has the right experience to provide information that will make your experience fun AND safe. I have been conducting background investigations for more than 20 years, and I’ve seen it all. In learning as much as you can about your online dater, it is absolutely necessary to correctly identify the person you are checking on. If you are checking on “Thomas Smith” (common name), it’s best if you can secure some “identifiers.” Even if you don’t have a birth date, we can still make a positive ID. Our experience allows us to positively ID a person with as little as a name and a street address.
In selecting the right background search firm, make sure they can verify they know the ins and outs of our nation’s court system. This is the only way to ensure that they know where and how to look. And if it’s done correctly, they will know if records exist or not. Court records contain valuable information with regard to people’s documented behavior – and not only criminal court records, but civil court records as well. Criminal records are easily identifiable since they contain the most positive ID: a date of birth. Civil records are much more difficult. Hence, your background search firm needs to know how to make a positive ID since these records typically don’t contain birth dates. (You might ask that question in selecting a background search firm, and if they don’t provide the right answer, move on!)
Criminal courts many times show not only convictions, but they may show arrests as well. Civil courts only document whether a person has been involved in one or more law suits, as either a plaintiff or a defendant, as well as divorces, domestic disputes, money judgments even eviction cases. Years ago, the only way to search civil and criminal court records was to pay a visit to each individual courthouse and manually pour through paper records. This was difficult because of inaccurate record keeping, and paper records were oftentimes destroyed after a couple of years.
With the dawn of the Internet, one would think background searches would become easier. In some ways, the Internet has proven to make things more confusing. Today, while we still need to physically visit most courthouses, the records are maintained electronically by the court clerk and are much more accurate. Why are these court records not available online you may ask? Some courts do have records on either an open website or a subscription site. These sites are many times full of inaccuracies, and even if records are found, there is usually no way to verify they match the information of the person you want checked. Most states have privacy laws that prevent identifying information, such as birth dates from being revealed online. But when you check courts in person for criminal cases, all identifying information is in the record.
Okay, enough legalese for one day, right? The bottom line is if you want to truly protect yourself and ensure you receive accurate information about your online date or potential partner, you need an experienced, licensed Private Investigator. Not employing a professional is simply a waste of your money and your time!