Feb. 18, 2021

Online Dating: The Deep Dive, Hazards, and Risks | Kate Hames

Online Dating: The Deep Dive, Hazards, and Risks | Kate Hames

Online Dating Risks
○ Technology and Privacy (timestamp 2:18)
○ Time and the Economic (timestamp 3:55)
○ Physical Harm (timestamp 6:37)
○ Romance Scams (timestamp 19:08 & 22:49)
○ Sexually Explicit Messages or Images AKA Dick Picks (timestamp 19:32)
○ Harassment (timestamp 20:21)
○ Security, Societal Expectations, and the Professionalize Wife Cycle (timestamp 23:28)

You need to incorporate the potential risks and not underestimate the chanciness of love. Hazard a walk down the path of how we might be smarter and safer traveling around the landscape of the love market with me @Michelle St Jane.

Bullet Points

  • Online Dating Risks, Romance Scams and more 
  • Virtual Dating  
  • Is 3 a crowd? Some think not, or some do not know. 

Knowledge Bomb

  • Dating sites fee based or free based debate. Check out why this is important to your safety (timestamp 16:14).  Match undertook in 2011, to the California Attorney General's Office then led by the current VP of America Kamala Harris, to identify sex offenders and check registries, to respond to user’s rape complaints and Institute and abuse reporting system.  

About the Guest
Kate Hames is an actor, singer, vlogger, podcaster and writer. She is also a rape survivor who uses her traumatic experiences to hopefully give other abuse survivors the strength and courage to tell their stories.

Say The Word, the link to the book on Amazon
Facebook Group

About the Show

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey with Dr. Michelle St Jane

A podcast for Global and Re-Emerging Leadership creating community/tribe, a circle of influence, transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world and wider universe. A unique destination for learning about Leadership + Conscious Stewardship + Legacy.

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Outro  0:07  

You're listening to Life and Leadership a conscious journey, the podcast that shares wisdom and strength. Join your host, Dr Michelle St Jane weekly conversation on how to have a positive impact for people planet and the wider world. If you want to live a life with intention, be proactive with your time, and bring your vision for the future to life one day at a time, you are in the right place at the right time. Let's get started.

Michelle St Jane  0:39  

Conversations have been wide and diverse.  They've centered on balancing your personal happiness with your professional happiness.

Bring your humor, investigate the landscape of the love markets. 


Looking at the digital matchmaking process of online dating as an efficient way of expanding the choice pool for courtship. 

Are you tired of COVID isolation?
Taking responsibility is a good strategy. It keeps you open to considering a wider perspective of partners than we're conditioned to consider by society.


Remember you need to incorporate the potential risks and not underestimate the chanciness of love. This is a complicated topic. 

The research is not necessarily deep and wide, not to mention the impact of the pandemic, there's a new norm.

I will hazard a walk down the path of how we might be smarter and safer, progressing by choice with less chanciness. Predominantly the research is based on the Pew Research Center. There will be references in the show notes and transcript. 


Let's lean into the dark side, the downside, and dive into the deeper issues to keep in mind.  They’re range from: 

  • physical safety risks
  • privacy risks
  • economic risks, and more. 

I will be touching on these in no particular order. 


According to Pew researchers, Anderson Vogel's and Turner 2019 study results focuses on the downsides of online dating. 

Let's talk harassments.

Let's talk scams.

Let’s talk of risk.

In no particular order. Here we go. 

Wanted Dead or Alive. Technology and privacy 

They create opportunities and challenges. The choice point of the internet and love is also known as online dating. 

According to the Pew Research Center survey in 2019, roughly 6. in ten online daters in America were concerned about data collection. 

You may be right to be concerned about the commercial use, the inappropriate selling or sharing of your personal data preferences.  Sensitive data such as: 

  • sexual orientation
  • gender identity
  • drug and alcohol use
  • tobacco product consumption
  • employment
  • political views, and more. 


Let's not forget some of these dating apps use GPS to make locating available singles nearby.  

The algorithmic commodification of footprints of desire, according to author and authority in the area of digital media and identity, John Cheney-Lippold, is a complex configuration of Machiavellian algorithms, and how our datafied selves show up in the digital world. 

Cheney-Lippold poses the question, “can we have privacy?” 

After all, our data speaks for itself, not us. A sort of soft bio politics. 

Control without control creates a datafied digital self. You are who the algorithms see you as.  With or without your direct participation.


Risk number two Time and the Economic risk online dating. 

Let's start thinking about the time spent in this space. 

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely in 2010 said it “allows people to save time achieving their goals.” 

Timewise does it serve users well. 

Users of dating sites actually get minimal real-life returns for the amount of time spent online. Ariely says and I quote “markets are coordination mechanisms that allow people to save time while achieving their goals.” 

Do dating services help people achieve their goals more efficiently then the real world alternative?


Ariely studied online dating and found that people spent on average: 

  • 5.2 hours per week searching profiles 
  • 6.7 hours per week emailing or communicating with potential partners 
  • 12 hours a week in the screening stage. 

What was the payoff? 

1.8 hours a week, actually spent meeting a potential partner in the real world. Nothing more frustrating than meeting for coffee and it doesn't work out. Ariely suggests, it is the equivalent of driving six hours in order to spend one hour at the beach with a friend or someone you don't know, nor can be sure you will like. 


Ariely suggests that online dating is risky in economic terms, because you have to spend a lot of time looking at prospective partners who may have little or no interest to you once you meet them in the real world.


Rachel Scheer, author of ‘Date to Find Your Soulmate’ shared her experience of the five hour each way date. Yes, she drove 10 hours to meet a chap twice.  The second time, he didn't turn up! 


Consider the other side of time and the cost, particularly for women preparing for a date. There are societal expectations of beauty. According to Frohlick, S., & Migliardi (2011) basically women have to spend more money on looking beautiful, to keep up with standards and more time. This all doesn't happen by chance. 


Mind you, there is the advent of virtual dating. You can pick your background and never leave your abode. 

I'm wondering if people will no longer question isolation and be willing to go the distance of displacement.

Slow down indulge the virtual world of screens and other communication options before meeting physically in person. 


The next risk is Physical Harm. 

There are some groups who are particularly wary of being online. Pew Research surveys report that women are more inclined than men to believe that dating sites and apps and not safe 53% of women 39% of men.

Dating services enable people to meet and often overcome really dangerous obstacles to find each other in real life. My guest, and co-host of We Got This Podcast, Chyanne, shares a story around her first date, which actually went about 10+ hours. 

She went off in his car on the first date, and he decided to join her at the gym. She's sitting on the car making a smart choice - not to go inside the house.

Then the garage door goes up and he races through it to the house. There is a dead deer strung up. 


Chyanne said she had this Horror Music running through her head and thoughts of her mother giving her warnings. 

She realized he probably was a weekend Hunter. 

After all, she was not silly to be cautious because there is a higher probability of women facing physical assault. 


There are reports of rape after meeting someone on a dating app. Americans who have never used the dating site or app are particularly skeptical about the safety of online dating. Approximately half of them have never used the websites or the apps surveyed that 52% believed the platforms are not at all safe. 


Make sure you check the terms of use.

Does it put the responsibility on you as a user. 

53% of Americans, including those who have not been online dating, agree that dating sites and apps are a somewhat safe ways to meet people.

While a smaller group of people believe they are not too safe or not safe enough for meeting people. 


My guest Kate Hames is an actor, singer, blogger, writer and host of her own podcast ‘Made a Hames Out of it.’ She takes a relatively shallow dive into curses and disasters, mishaps and mayhem on her podcast. Kate also has a project called ‘Say the word.’ It started out as a single blog post and has gone on to be a published collaborative anthology in 2020. Moreover, ‘Say the word’ is going from the page to the stage. 

It's an ongoing collaboration project bringing together survivors of sexual assault, and abuse in writing.  They can share in their own words. There is a second book coming out and submissions are open for anyone who now feels that it's time to share their story. 

There'll be a link to Kate's website in the show notes. 

Kate you are also a blogger and you've written a book as well. 

Would you like to share about that?

Kate Hames  9:33  

Yes, I will definitely.

My blog is on my website. It started off in 2014 like a journal really. 

I would write about things I was passionate about events that I'd gone to or anything really that like a diary. Then I started using it a bit more to focus on mental health and mental illness.


Then it got a little bit more in depth and important. The main reason I started I believe, is because I wanted to share my story about sexual assault, sexual abuse and rape. I eventually found the courage to share my blog post about my own experiences. That blog post then started off a whole host of people messaging me saying, “This is brilliant, thank you so much for sharing, and I wish I could share my story. But I just don't have the courage to do so.” I thought, well, these people can't be left unheard. That's not fair. So I said to them, “if you want to share your story with me, and I'll put it into a book, and then your story can be shared. But you can remain anonymous, if you wish, if you don't want anyone to know.” So that's what I've done. Last year, I published that it's called “Say the word,” and it's now been turned into a play as well. 

Michelle St Jane  10:49  

I will definitely put links in the show notes to the book and the play and everything else. I think it was really important. I'm very grateful and appreciate you sharing on this episode, because according to Pew Research, close to half of Americans still think meeting someone through a dating site is unsafe. Would you say that's the same for the UK as well? Or is there a different sense about it?

Kate Hames  11:12  

I'm not sure on the statistics. I do know that there's probably a lot of people that do see it as being unsafe. I think it's not something that you should look at as being unsafe. You do definitely have to be careful. I mean, there's plenty of dating sites that were available.  There's one called Plenty of Fish, which is free. Anybody can sign up. Anybody can send anyone messages. I went on match.com, because you have to pay. To me, that meant, if you're paying, you're probably a little bit more serious about it. 

Definitely people have got to make sure that somebody knows where you're going. For the dates I had gone on, I would message someone and say, “I'm here with this person, I plan on doing this.” 

Aways be a case of make sure somebody knows where you are, obviously, and somebody knows the name of the person that you're with. But you just don't know you do not know who you are meeting. 


My partner, like I say, we've been together eight years, and we were messaging for about two months before we even had our first date. Good to just have your wits about you. I mean, if you found the person's name, and if you could find them on Facebook, and they had a lot of interaction on Facebook, then they’re probably quite a regular person.  If you've got a blank profile doesn't have any pictures on it, and they've got no friends, then it's probably a bit dodgy.

Michelle St Jane  12:45  

Good tip.  For the age range 18 to 34 years of age often tend to be the target of rude and harassing behavior. On some of these platforms. The dating sites are very accessible. In fact, they don't necessarily check the sex offenders register and things like that, right. But being sexually explicit messages and images, which people don't ask for is pretty upsetting for some and maybe not for others. There are mixed results out there, about the variability of acceptability for most people who are saying they're having a good experience. 


For example, Tinder created a machine learning tool to flag potentially offensive messages. But the person who received it had to report it as inappropriate because again, what is normal or what is acceptable will be different for different people of course.

Other major social media platforms like Facebook and Google, have been using AI for years to flag violating content. 


I found it interesting that in 2017, Tinder launched men-provement, geared towards improving their behavior and minimizing harassment. Last year, Tinder integrated noonlight.  A service that provides real time tracking and emergency services. In case a date goes wrong. You just need to push a button. 


Thank you for the tips. That's a blessing for people to know what's out there and how to deal with it. Definitely letting someone know where you are and who you are with.  Make sure that person is clickable. According guests, previous guests, make sure that they are alone and have current photos. Kate, any other words on the dating scene?

Kate Hames  14:22  

Tips and strategies I think just keeps it and keep your wits about you. Make sure you know who you actually are going to meet in a public place as well. Don't ever meet someone at their house. I just think that is the most dangerous thing to do. Please don't ever do that. 

Meet in a public place. Definitely. 

I love that, men-provement, that you just mentioned there because it isn't just women that suffer the sexual assault, sexual abuse or harassment. Obviously men do as well.

It shouldn't be the case of telling women that they shouldn't dress a certain way or they shouldn't act a certain way. They should be able to act and dress in the way that they feel comfortable. And it should be men that are taught how to be respectful of women. Not women being told to cover up or not be, you know, little bit body confident. There's nothing wrong with that. So yeah, I do like I do like the idea.

Michelle St Jane  15:24  

There are other communities like transgender and other communities that are targeted, which is not acceptable as well. So I don't mean to be limiting my diversity. So Kate, you're a podcaster. You made a haze out of it. I would love to hear more about your fortnightly podcast.

Kate Hames  15:43  

Yes, I am a podcaster. Thank you very much for mentioning that. I started my podcast last year ‘Made a Hames Out of it.’ It is an old Irish saying and obviously my surname is Hames. To make a Hames out of it means to mess something up. My podcast talks about curses and mishaps and mayhem and disasters. I've talked about the Titanic and cursed Christmas’. I've just done one about hotels. Basically, it's a lot of curse things at the moment. It’s all about things going wrong, 

Michelle St Jane  16:14  

Moving on to the fee or free debate around dating sites. 

Does your dating site verify screen or do offender registry checks of the of users?


In 2011 Match agreed to screen as a result of Carol Markin being attacked. She was raped by a sixth time offender on their second date. Match undertook, to the California Attorney General's Office then led by the current vice president of America Kamala Harris, to: 

  • identify sex offenders 
  • check registries 
  • respond to user’s rape complaints
  • institute an abuse reporting system 

Only, this for paid subscribers. 


2018 Tinder death date in New Zealand.

An English backpacker, Grace Millane was strangled by her Tinder date in a hotel room December 2018. He was back on the dating app, arranging his next date. the next morning, while her body was still in the hotel room.


There are some online daters  who say that someone via dating site or app has threatened physically harm them. 

January 2020 Tinder rolled out a panic button feature in the United States. You can trigger it silently if you feel unsafe and alert the police that you need help. It has geo-location built in.  Some critics go back to privacy issues with concerns about the violation of users.  Apparently the location access is given to a third-party company will hold the data not Tinder itself.

Do the benefits outweigh the privacy concerns? 

Match Group is the owner of Tinder and about 45 other sites.  There are plans to expand this feature. 


Other dating apps and the majority of dating platforms do not conduct criminal background checks or verify identity of users and their age. Often the responsibility is put back on the user. 

There are lengthy Terms of Use and Policies. Columbia Journalism investigations and ProPublica in 2019 heightened the disparity between Match Group that screens for paying customers against government sex offender registry and its other apps in January 2020. As I said Tinder rolled out the panic button. 


In January 2020 the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy falls under the House Committee on Oversight and reform chaired by Carolyn B Maloney. The chairman of the subcommittee is Raja Krishnamoorthi on Economic and Consumer Policy is quoted as saying: 

protection from sexual predators should not be the luxury confined to the paying customers.” 


Risk: Romance Scams 

In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission reported that Americans lost US$143 million to internet romance scams. Reports of these crimes tripled between 2012 and 2016. 

I'm talking about the USA of course.  Many of these scams originate on legitimate websites for dating in Apps making it difficult to identify until it's too late. 


Inappropriate Images  

A Pew Research survey which over sampled lesbian, gay or bisexual adults. LGBT community is likely to encounter this kind of behavior on dating platforms because of sexual orientation. 

56% of LGBT users said someone on a dating site or app has sent them sexually explicit messages or images they didn't ask for compared to about a third of the straight users. This happens more for them than straight users. LGBT users have been threatened with physical harm. 


Other research suggests that online dating is especially important for populations with a small pool of potential partners.  Such as those who identify as LGBT. 



Let's consider some of the patterns of digital abuse. 

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey, which use different measures of harassment found that 45% of men and 39% of women had experienced some sort of online harassment. 

  • Women were more likely to encounter sexualized forms of harassment. 52% of women between 18 and 34 years of age reported receiving an explicit image they had not asked for compared to 36% of men. 
  • Teens are also being recipients of unwanted messages online. Then a separate survey in 2018. Pew found that roughly a third of teen girls between 15 and 17 had received sexually explicit messages they did not ask for. 

Chyanne and Darryl We Got This Podcast hosts had a very frank conversation around Dick Picks and body image and other great points such as what you have on your profile in a previous episode. 


The results of the Pew Research Center survey in 2019 showed that 60% of female users between 18 and 34 reported that someone from a dating site or an app continued to contact them after they had said no more contact.

More 57% had received sexually explicit messages and images they didn't ask for. 


Possibly the open nature of dating means that users, particularly strangers, feel in this environment that they can do what they like and not be held accountable for their bad behavior. 

Pew Fact Tank tells us although LGBT online daters, report positive experiences, there is also harassment. 


Interestingly, Tinder has a machine learning tool that can help flag potentially offensive messages and encourage users to report inappropriate behavior. Facebook, Google have enlisted AI for years to remove violating content. 

In 2017, Tinder launched the men-provement initiative, encouraging much better behavior from their male users and trying to reduce harassment. 

There was also an integration of noonlight. A service that provides real time tracking and emergency services for dates gone wrong.  You can connect it to your profile, turn the profile to turn noonlight and press the emergency button if you need it. 


Moving on to romance scam. Scammers asked you to pay wire the money reload gift cards, so you get cash quickly and anonymously. The transactions are impossible to reverse. According to the FTC in America in 2020 304 million US dollars were lost. And it was up 50% over 2019 romance scammers will create their profiles on dating sites and apps, fake profiles, they contact their targets through social media.


Scammer work to create a relationship with you, build trust with you, sometimes chatting with you quite often, if not many times a day.  Then they build up a story to ask for money. If there happens report your experience. I'll have a link to the FTC complaint website. 


Risk: Security and societal expectations. 

Yes, another risk. On the other hand, let's not forget that risks arise during the professionalize wife cycle. 

There are reconfigurations of marriage the century.

It's more than the vow. 

It's more about brand management marketability. 

The partnership of marriage.

Men and women plan their personal happiness as carefully as they plan their professional happiness. 


Suzanne Leonard in 2018 wrote a book called ‘Wife Inc,’ all about the business of marriage in the 21st century. 

The wife has been professionalized.  She’s no longer reliant on her husband's status or money. 


After a half a century of battling for gender equality, women are free from having to get a husband for: 

  • economic stability
  • sexual fulfillment
  • procreation. 

It's a choice and many opting out. Leonard talks about smart woman no longer just work in the home. The work of wife is done on:

  • online dating sites
  • reality TV
  • social media


Of course there are those financial and temporal costs for women who need to meet society's expectation of female beauty. 

Just a choice and increasingly more women and men are opting out. They may not want to dissolve the marriage.  They might want to expand it. 

This touches base on the issue: Is three a crowd?

Some think not, or some do not know. 

Pew Fact Tank researchers Anderson and Vogel published research March 2020 on what was happening: 

  • 5% of cohabitating and 3% of married people were currently online using dating services
  • 1% of all married adults and 2% of all cohabitating adults in the US are current users of dating sites and apps. 


Ladies, don't forget those risks! 

These are the ones that are more traditionally borne by women: 

the disproportionate responsibility for the pregnancy 

child rearing 

  • social pressures not to have too many lovers 
  • not to have fatherless children
  • to married by a certain age. 


A few concluding thoughts.

There are a number of complex configurations to keep in mind when pursuing a social relationship in the digital and physical world.

There are those debates around fairness and freedom in fee based or free based online dating websites and apps. 

The dating market is capitalized to profit from the shrinking social pool of real life.

I’ve raised complicated questions in this conversation in series two. We've been addressing some of those.

In the dating market it's all a combination of: 

soul searching

soulmate searching

being smart, informed and staying safe. 

Human hearts are contradictory, the algorithmic and free market commodification influences your choices. 

Achieve what you want and have a wonderful experience.

Outro  27:09  

Dr Michelle St Jane is a conscious steward of meaningful leadership in the world and the wider cosmos. Tune in every Thursday for real talk around life, leadership and your conscious journey. Be ready to create and cultivate your dreams and so hard at desires. 

Your support is value. 

Please subscribe, leave a review and a rating but more importantly, share with your connections.

Reach out.  I am interested hear from you. Do you have a topic you'd like to explore? It would be great to have your feedback.
Reach out.  I am interested, do you have a topic you'd like to explore? It would be great to have your feedback.

Dr. Michelle St Jane

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey 

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Kate Hames Profile Photo

Kate Hames

actor, singer, vlogger, podcaster and writer

Kate Hames is an actor, singer, vlogger, podcaster and writer. She is also a rape survivor who uses her traumatic experiences to hopefully give other abuse survivors the strength and courage to tell their stories.