I created my first online dating profile on OkCupid two years ago, around four years after my divorce. I didn’t want something serious. I still hadn’t fully recovered from the end of my bad marriage, was working over 60 hours a week, and taking care of my ten-year-old daughter on my own. I didn’t have time for serious dating, and I wasn’t emotionally ready to have a real relationship with someone. I made it abundantly clear on my OkCupid article that I was looking for a guy to go out and have fun with. Within hours of creating my profile, a flood of messages from interested guys came in.
Most of the guys who messaged me were too young or too conservative or just too different from me. Opposites may attract in real life, but it’s just not the same online, where chemistry doesn’t really exist. I wanted to find someone who I would get along with. I wanted to find someone who it would be easy to date. My relationships in the past had always been so serious and occupied my thoughts so much.
After a few weeks of receiving messages from men I wasn’t interested in on OkCupid, I started to feel discouraged and was considering joining a site you had to pay for like Match.com. Just as I was about to give up on OkCupid, I got a message from a guy who actually seemed quite special. For the purposes of this article, I’ll call him Bill.
According to Bill’s OkCupid profile, he was a computer programmer who liked to read, paint, and travel. He was also a busy, single dad who was looking for someone to go with to art museums, movies, and restaurants. He wasn’t looking for anything serious, and he seemed smart. Plus, he looked pretty cute in his profile picture. What can I say? I’m a sucker for brown, curly hair and blue eyes.
So, Bill and I talked online rather frequently for a couple of weeks. We exchanged funny stories about our kids and discussed books and movies we both enjoyed. Bill would tell me a little bit about his day, and I would tell him about mine. As far as I could tell, he was funny and kind.
So, we agreed to meet in person for dinner on a Friday night. We met at a little Italian restaurant downtown. I arrived a few minutes early, and Bill arrived a few minutes late in a suit and tie. He looked great (and smelled great too). We really hit it off at dinner, and I was actually hoping that Bill might suggest that we extend the date a little longer. I thought that maybe we could go for a walk and see where the night took us. Unfortunately, he had to go home after dinner because his son wasn’t feeling well. The date was cut short, but we made tentative plans for another one and even impulsively kissed each other goodnight.
I called my best friend, Susan, when I got home from our date. I hadn’t told her yet that I had created an online dating profile, partly because I was embarrassed and knew that she didn’t think much of online dating. I was so excited about my date with Bill, though. I just had to tell her. Instead of encouragement, Susan ended up giving me a long lecture on online dating and how unsafe it can be. She fussed at me for not telling her about the date before I went on it. “What if something had happened? No one even knew where you were. You don’t even know this guy,” she said.
I got off the phone with Susan as quickly as I could. I was annoyed with her. Tons of people used online dating sites. Why couldn’t I? Bill was a nice person. I thought Susan was just being too overprotective and intrusive. After a few minutes of sitting around, being angry at Susan, I started to calm down, and I started to worry a little bit. The fact of the matter was that I didn’t know Bill. He seemed like a nice person, but I didn’t know much about him, other than what he had told me about himself. There are a lot of creeps online.
Then something occurred to me. I could Google Bill’s name. Maybe I could find his Facebook or LinkedIn profiles and see if they matched up with what he had told me about himself. I actually work for an online background check company, and I remember wondering why I hadn’t thought of doing some online research on Bill before we met up.
I remembered seeing Bill’s first and last name on the credit card he used to pay for dinner. So, I knew he wasn’t using a fake name. I typed his name into Google and waited a few anxious seconds for the search results.
At the top of the search results, I saw a news article with the title, “Local Professionals Charged With Money Laundering.” I clicked on the link to the article, thinking that someone with the same name as Bill must have been involved with money laundering. He had what could be considered a relatively common name.
I noticed the newspaper that published that article was local. It was the online version of the newspaper I had delivered to my house. I scrolled down and began to read the article, and then I noticed a picture on the right. I recognized who it was right away. It was the man I had just been on a date with a few hours earlier. I felt a little panicked and shocked. I had been on a date with a white collar criminal and hadn’t even realized it.
No, I didn’t go on a date with a violent criminal or sex offender. Women date men who have committed far worse crimes than Bill all the time. He probably is a nice guy who just made a few mistakes. Nevertheless, the crimes I found out Bill committed were enough to convince me to cancel our date and delete my OkCupid profile.
I never told Susan about what I found out about Bill. I told her he stopped talking to me when she asked. She tried to set me up with a few of her coworkers. I tried out dating the old-fashioned way but didn’t have much luck. After a few months, I decided to give online dating another try, on Match.com. I’ve met a few nice guys on there, and I’ve even gone on some pretty fun dates in the last few months. Before I go on any date with an online or offline suitor, however, I make sure I Google his name.
With a history in personal data analysis, Jane Smith’s posts offer an inside look at the world of free background checks. You can reach her at email@example.com for more information.