Is internet dating dangerous for single moms?

Sep 17, 2014 at 4:07 p.m. ET

Online dating can be fun but it can also be dangerous. These tips and the real story of my experience may help you decide for yourself.

It has been over two years since my separation and divorce. I have dated some but my schedule, my desire not to introduce my kids to anyone and my own mistrust after a nasty divorce have held me back from anything other than a few dinners. About a year ago, my friends talked me into trying internet dating. I was hesitant but honestly, those weekends when the kids are at their dad's can get lonely. So I created an account and waited for responses.

To say the experience was a disaster is an understatement. I was honest in my profile that was on a very reputable site. I wanted a man to date, but that I was not going to introduce to my children. Well, I guess online, that means I am just looking for one thing: sex.

Obviously, that wasn't the case. Though the hundreds of responses I got were a nice ego boost, I encountered grotesque messages from perfect strangers describing sex acts in detail, a plethora of married men who outright lied about their status or who had horrible sob stories and the creepy ones who immediately wanted to move in and take care of me and my kids.

The few dates I did go on hammered home the dishonest environment that internet dating can be. They were not anything like their photos, the tan line on their ring finger gave them away or their personality was less than desirable.

With time, I gave up and have now resolved myself to the fact that as a single mom who works from home, being single is just inevitable. Honestly, after my experience and the further damage it did to my self-esteem and ability to trust, it is totally fine with me if I'm single the rest of my life.

On the flip side, I have close friends who have had amazing success with internet dating. They have met in person and even married men they've met online. I am happy for them, I am. But I think my experience is more the norm.

To prove my point, I posed the question to moms on my Facebook page. The reaction was mixed but the opinions were all valid.

"Online dating is no more dangerous than meeting someone any other way. Everyone is a stranger before you meet, off and online."

"No! No sense putting myself or my child in any kind of danger in regards to online dating. You can become a target and then a victim very quickly with people who learn things through the internet. You are dealing with strangers. Complete strangers. If a stranger knocked on your door would you welcome him in and tell him all about yourself? No because that would be dangerous."

"I'm a single parent and every guy I came across online only wanted one thing... I haven't had a date in 6 years... sigh."

"I met my husband online, 11 and 1/2 years ago and 10 years after being married... still the happiest couple ever! I highly recommend online dating. You do need to be careful, careful. As Dianne Vought said, you can meet some real losers who are only interested in one thing... but, there are also decent men who want a decent woman."

The experience did teach me a lot. And there were a few that, had I been more willing, might have turned into a dating situation. But in the end, the bad outweighed the good and I felt it was too dangerous and too damaging to me and my girls to continue. I am happier now, more confident now and more able to find out who I am. So if I ever do meet someone, I will be a better person to know.

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