When I was in my 20s, the worst sexually transmitted disease you could contract required a shot in the buttocks, a couple of pills and two long weeks with no sexual activity (well they felt long to me!).
But let’s face it, sexual contact still remains one of the most pleasurable activities we humans engage in, yet the stakes have gotten much higher.
The most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show that from 2011 to 2012, the incidence of gonorrhea increased by more than 4% and the incidence of primary and secondary stage syphilis increased by more than 11% (mostly among gay and bisexual men). 50,000 new cases of HIV are diagnosed every year, predominantly among young black men. And more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, with almost 1 in 7 (14%) unaware of their infection.
While those numbers may seem alarming, I view them as a harbinger of increased protection among those having casual or anonymous sex.
But it makes me wonder, in light of a seemingly sensible effort to protect ourselves from STDs, why more of us don’t go the extra mile to guard against other potential harms, such as online fraud or personal assault, when it comes to meeting that special someone in cyberspace?
Many people are victims of crimes perpetrated by someone they meet through a dating or friend finder site. These crimes run the gamut from financial fraud and identity theft to emotional /psychological abuse and physical assault (including hate crimes against LGBT daters). Cyber criminals lurking in online dating communities work to gain your trust, then take your money, vandalize your home or belongings – or perhaps even rob you of your self-esteem resulting from an incident in which you were “violated” in some way.
Whether or not you suspect the person you want to date has a sordid past (because what you’ve been told doesn’t add up or your intuition is telling you to beware), you would do well to hire a dating background investigation firm to seek out any potential criminal records, pending or former lawsuits, divorces, bankruptcies, orders of protection, and/or intoxicated driving charges, and so on. Armed with that information, you can make confident, positive decisions about your love life.
[Tweet “Would you hire someone to do a background check before going on a date?”]The bottom line? Hire a qualified professional to conduct a legitimate background investigation. Some people believe that looking into someone’s past is unethical or stalker-like. But this is simply not true. In the interest of safety, requesting a thorough and professional background report on a potential date or partner may be as important as picking up some condoms at the pharmacy.
And finally, don’t let these notions get in the way of your pleasure. Have fun, but stay safe!