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Love, lies and online dating

It’s the age of modern romance. The approach of finding a partner has changed over a period of time. Busy lives and innovative technology have given rise to apps and websites that has increased the probability of finding a suitable companion. As in finding love the traditional way, online dating too also has its pros and cons.

A recent survey by Norton among men and women in Australia and New Zealand revealed that almost a quarter of the people who have tried online dating and no longer have a profile have found their partner online. The survey* conducted among New Zealanders and Australians revealed the results of the positives and pitfalls of online dating.

True or false?

A little white lie never hurt anyone, but it did change the profiles of 43% of people who’ve tried online dating in New Zealand and 51% in Australia. In their attempt to put their best foot forward, daters admit to exaggeration or embellishment on their dating profiles.  27% of daters in New Zealand and 33% in Australia are likely to lie about their income. Even physical attributes like their weight was misrepresented.

The dating experience

She said

A bad experience in dating is very dismaying. Nearly 70% of daters in New Zealand have had some kind of a negative experience while dating online. 43 % of the women are most likely to complain of receiving unpleasant or creepy emails. Another 33% of them ended up meeting people with highly misrepresentative profiles. An unfortunate 30% of them met people pretending to be single when they were not and 28% of them received unwanted, sexually explicit emails or texts.

Nearly 70% of Australian women had also had bad experiences.  Most commonly, 34% Australian women also complained of receiving unpleasant or creepy emails, 30% of encountering people with misrepresented profiles and 27% of meeting people claiming to be single when, in fact, they were in a relationship already.

A significant minority of men readily admit to behaving badly.  15% of male online daters in Australia and 12% in New Zealand admit that they have used online dating sites to have an affair behind their partner’s back.   Around one quarter of male online daters in both Australia and New Zealand say they have sent sexually explicit/nude images of themselves of stranger on online dating sites.

He said

However, male online daters had also encountered problems. 23 % men in Australia and 24% in New Zealand said they had encountered people on dating sites with  highly misrepresentative profiles.

In New Zealand, men were more likely to complain of meeting people who asked them for money (25%).  This experience was less commonly reported by Australian men (16%) but was still encountered by a significant number.

What are the risks of online dating?

Nearly half of those people who have negative experiences choose to ignore them but some people are more seriously affected.  Over one third of people who have a negative experience stop using the dating site/app concerned and in a small minority of cases (6% in Australia and 3% in New Zealand) the incident is serious enough for people to report it to the police.

Almost 60% of all Australians and New Zealanders feel the need for website owners to do more to protect users.

This number indicates that as with regular dating, online dating has its risks too. When you post something online, it’s out there for everyone to see. While there are many genuinely nice men and women out there looking for a soul mate, there are some nefarious characters too. It’s hard to tell who is after what.

As with anything in life, your first line of defence is your instinct. Be watchful and cautious before you disclose too much of information online. You can run the risk of becoming a victim of stalking, harassment, catfishing, identity theft, webcam blackmail and even phishing scams. In order to help mitigate these risks, be very careful with what information you provide on your profile. Make sure your computers, mobile phones and tablets have a reliable security suite like Norton Security Premium. Make sure the website you visit is legitimate. Sneaky apps masquerade as the real deal and dig into your devices for information. With Norton Mobile Security, you can use App Advisor for Android to help verify the legitimacy of an app.

Profile do’s and don’ts:

  • Create a username that you have not used on any other accounts. Your username can be searched, and anything tied to that username can come up easily.
  • The same applies for the photos you post on your profile. A user can do a reverse image search and easily locate other websites where that photo is posted. So, in this case, it’s ok to go selfie crazy!
  • Set up a free email account to use with your dating account that has a unique name. Most sites offer their own in-site messaging that protects the anonymity of their members; however, people will often move their conversations to email or telephone as they get more friendly online.
  • When the time comes for a phone call, set up a free Google Voice account, which will generate a separate phone number and forward it to your mobile. That way you can protect your phone number until you feel comfortable enough to give it to your potential match.
  • When choosing an online dating site, be sure to choose a reputable, well known website. Research the sites you’re interested in. Some sites allow you to either delete or disable your account. Since users sometimes return to online dating, the site retains your information. Make sure you check these sites’ privacy policies and verify how data with these accounts are handled. Some dating sites make profiles public by default, which means that they can be indexed by search engines.

*About the Norton Online Dating Survey

Norton by Symantec commissioned an online quantitative survey through Morar Consulting in October 2016, with 1,000 Australians aged 18 and over, of whom 494 had experienced online dating. The typical margin of statistical error is +/- 4.4% in the sample of 494 daters. The survey aimed to understand online dating risks and experiences of Australians.