I am often asked whether I conduct background checks on my male clients. I own a boutique matchmaking service that caters to professional men seeking long- term relationships and marriage. I get to know my clients as best I can, often visiting their homes and getting detailed feedback from their matches. But even a criminal background check cannot guarantee how a person will behave, or whether they will snap.
A Las Vegas woman, Mary Kay Beckman, is suing Match.com for $10 million, citing negligence, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive trade, failure to warn and negligent infliction of emotional distress, after dating a man she met on the site who stabbed her 10 times in the face and chest and kicked her in the head in an attempt to kill her. Beckman says she went on a few dates in October 2011 with Wade Ridley, but after ending the relationship came home one day to find him in her garage with a knife. While Beckman was in the hospital, Ridley was arrested for the murder of an Arizona woman, also a woman that he had previously dated. When arrested, he told officers he was angry about Beckman breaking up with him and "wanted to kill her."
More from YourTango: Facebook Envy: When Your Negative Feelings Go Too Far
But should Match.com be held responsible? Many wonderful matches have been made through online dating. I have a family member who met her finance, an amazing man, through Match.com. Whether you meet someone at a bar, in line at the grocery store, at the dog park, or a salsa class, you can still be in danger. Even when you have a long history with someone, things can turn deadly. It seems like every week the news runs a story about a man or a woman killing their spouse.
So how can women protect themselves? The most important thing is to stop contact with a man if you see any red flags. Listen to your gut. Mary Kay Beckman did the right thing in this case, she felt that something wasn't quite right and broke it off with him after eight days. Unfortunately, Ridley was deranged and there was no stopping him from his sick plan.
Here are 5 things that you can do to stay safe when using online dating:
1. Be careful about the image you project in your profile.
Many women post provocative photos and usernames in an attempt to be noticed, but this tactic can attract the wrong type of attention. Keep it classy.
2. Make your first few dates safe.
Meet your match in a public place such as a restaurant or cafe and take your own transportaion. Avoid secluded places such as parks, (unless you are meeting with your dogs at a busy dog park), or isolating activities like hikes. Never meet at your place or theirs. If you don't feel comfortable or if it’s clear that the person wasn’t truthful in any way at all, leave at immediately and report any dishonesty to the dating service.
3. You have the right to discontiue communication at any time.
More from YourTango: 5 Tips to Getting Out of An Online Dating Rut
Women often have the need to please and don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Throw that way of thinking right out the window. Your safety comes first. You don’t have to explain or apologize for not wanting to continue correspondence with a man. Most dating sites have a feature that allows you to block the person from contacting you if you want communication to stop.
4. Don’t rush into a relationship.