Is online dating a honeytrap?
As a divorce lawyer I get to hear many tales of how people got together in the first place. Online dating has featured regularly over the last few years and is increasingly popular. I was still quite taken aback recently when a gentleman described online dating as a honeytrap. It is his firm belief that his, soon to be ex wife, deliberately sought a husband of a certain calibre with one eye on a healthy divorce settlement further down the line. In his view online dating enabled her to narrow the field with specific search requirements and he fell victim to her trap.
This got me thinking about whether this was a reasonable argument or whether the gentleman in question was just unhappy with his lot. So where else to turn but to the reliable, ever present Google! Having been married for nigh on 25 years I have not ventured into the world of online dating before. The first thing that pops up as a sponsored link is Elite Singles targeting bright, successful professionals, a site for “Sophisticated Singles” it boasts – I begin to think the answer may be obvious. There are sites for uniformed dates, over 40’s, over 50’s the list is endless of specialist dating agencies. It is clearly quite easy to identify a target market.
You then build a profile, now this can work both ways. Using out of date photographs and exaggerating (or blatantly lying) about ones status, it occurs to me, are probably fairly common. I imagine many a person has been disappointed arriving at the train station with carnation in buttonhole to meet the 6 foot Greek god in the photo, dreaming about running their fingers through his thick blonde hair and over the taut, washboard stomach… but I get carried away. In reality they meet with a slightly paunchy, slightly balding, slightly wrinkled, average guy who drives a very ordinary Ford Focus as it turns out the racy Porsche in the photo was part of a track day he did at least 10 years ago. Now, I wasn’t even looking for a date, but already I was attracted to the good looking guy with nice car. Your profile can actually tell a lot about you and I guess if you were trawling the website looking for your next husband/wife to divorce it would be easier to identify potential targets online rather than sitting in a bar trying to guess the story of the person who has caught your eye.
Then I discover that the risks to online dating are even greater than I suspected. I read with alarm an article about nasty viruses and apparently suitable protection is no longer purchased at the chemist! These viruses are computer viruses, apparently it is quite common for fake sites to be set up to spread viruses using spam and phishing and other things I don’t really understand. Not to mention they require a fee for registering or insist on you having to text information to premium rate numbers.
So sticking to reputable sites, online dating is still fraught with potential problems, you are warned not to send money to people you meet online and tales are told of sick relatives, pleas for money to buy a ticket to come and visit you, to purchase visas to leave different countries, the list is endless.
It occurs to me that I have been easily frightened off the online dating world so I take stock and consider how I would feel if I was divorced and finding it difficult to meet single guys. Well, online dating would clearly have a place and being over 40 far more appealing than hanging around trendy bars and clubs.
Yes, online dating does make it easier for people to target certain types but those people have always existed and people have always made the mistake of falling in love with them. Pre nuptial and post nuptial agreements can help people protect themselves financially from an unscrupulous new partner, making a will can protect your children in the event of your death. It seems to me sometimes you have to step into the unknown but whether it be online dating, marriage, setting up home taking sensible precautions is essential and very often taking good legal advice.