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Online Dating Magazine > Features > Online Dating Safety Tips for Lesbians

Safer Online Dating for Lesbians:
Dispelling Myths, Dispensing Best Tips
by Barb Elgin, writer for Online Dating Magazine


Did you know that Valentine's Day and springtime are the busiest times of the year for online dating sites?  This is the time of year you are most likely to join a dating site, or renew an existing membership.  So, before you sign up or sign on again,  I want you to take a few minutes today to consider the topic of online dating safety: lest you think you can't fall into this modern day love trap! 

Today's article focuses primarily on one particular online dating danger – romance scams – but much of the information applies to online dating in general.  For example, while a woman may not directly try to take your money, she may try to steal your identity, or she may be an active alcoholic, substance abuser or have a history of domestic violence or other criminal activity.  These are thorny  'issues' you need to find out about before you become emotionally involved. 

Lastly, don't forget that a clean criminal background check today is not an excuse to 'let your guard down' as women with severe personality problems or behaviors are often adept at hiding them until after they have their 'hooks' in you and it's hard for you to leave.

Discard these myths about online dating safety

When it comes to 'affairs of the lesbian heart', one of the biggest dangers I see in the lesbian community is the mistaken belief that, because men are 'not in the equation', they are immune from online dating scams.  I hope today's article will help you see that is just not the case.  Single lesbians face most of the same online dating dangers gay men and heterosexuals face, and at least one danger other gay male and straight male and female daters don't!

Another myth I want to dispel is thinking you are safe/safer patronizing bigger, well known, mainstream sites, like Match, Chemistry, etc.  Unfortunately, this is not 'safe dating'.  For example, I just read about an intelligent woman who was duped out of over $10,000 by a man she met and fell in love with in 2008 on eHarmony (1). 

Not even 'dated' (oops, sorry, couldn't resist) advice, such as avoiding free dating sites, is fool proof.  Dating industry expert Dr. Jim Houran, a colleague of mine here at Online Dating Magazine, reports, "Predators are found on all sites, so barriers like 'paid' vs 'non paid' are meaningless, truth be told."

Joe Tracy, founder and editor of Online Dating Magazine and a new online site devoted to the topic, called states that:

" dating services don’t know what profiles are real and which ones are fake. But when the big reputable services like,, etc. discover a bad profile, they take action to remove it. If you know a profile is fake, report it to them." 

This makes sense.  Smaller sites probably don't have the resources to focus on this piece.  Believe you and me, they are focused on bringing in volume and staying afloat financially.  That's a business reality.  However the caveat is whenWhen big sites discover a bad profile they remove it.  How often do dating sites become aware of a bad profile?  Do they have any internal ways of identifying bad profiles or, is it solely up to members to bring such situations to their attention?

Lastly, if you think you 'know enough' about online dating safety, because you're a 'veteran' or a 'regular', if you think you won't ever use online dating services, or, worst of all, you have an attitude of 'it can't happen to me', think again: online dating is growing in popularity, ease of use, accessibility, effectiveness, etc.  For example, in a recent survey online dating industry expert Mark Brooks completed with top dating site executives and owners, it is clear online dating is going to get better and better, enticing more of us to try it and become happy fans of it.

One online dating danger unique to lesbians

Recently, while leading my lesbian dating discussion group, we've enjoyed some healthy debates on safety and online dating.  One group member talked about the recurring problem she's had meeting straight men on dating sites who are pretending to be lesbians.  This is a problem unique to lesbians. 

Certainly lesbians are a sexual 'turn on' to many straight men.  And here's where male interest becomes our problem:  You can't begin to know whether the new woman you just met on a dating site is a woman or a rather tame, but persistent male internet porn or sex addict, just looking for a thrill.  Worse yet, you don't know if the real person behind the beautiful female picture is actually a maniac who hates lesbians and would like to do who-knows-what to you, either online, in person or both.

Even men in supposedly responsible, upstanding social positions are not immune from the allure of posing as lesbians on dating sites.  Case in point - today I came across an article on an attorney general from Staten Island, New York who has just been charged with impersonating a lesbian on dating sites (2).

When it comes to online dating your best defense is a strong offense (and vice versa)!

So what's a lovely single lesbian like yourself, to do?  Turn off your computer?  Cancel your Pink Sofa or SheDate membership?  Of course not.Online dating, just like offline dating, is here to stay.  Both activities have their benefits and their risks. 

A more realistic course of action is to use online dating with confidence by educating yourself and being cautious but not afraid.  Where to begin?  As with any issue of self defense or personal safety, keep your eyes and ears open.  Learn all you can, and keep on learning, so you can improve your odds of having safe experiences. 

I want you to go right now and Google the terms 'online dating scams', 'romance scams' and 'safe online dating'.  Read news articles (preferably from reputable news sites like the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc.) on these topics. 

As you read, you will realize the problem of online dating safety concerns and scams are real, frequent and, often quite serious.  While 'online dating scams' are only one of a number of safer dating issues you need to be concerned with, it is a great starting point for increasing your awareness of potential pitfalls to avoid. 

Learn from those who've been duped

Below I've listed a few, 'hot off the press' savvy tips for becoming a more confident, online dater.

1) Check out RomanceScams.Org

As I'm sure you've experienced, mistakes are often our best teachers.  A great place to better understand the 'seedier' side of the online dating landscape is by learning from those who've been victimized. 

When you learn from those who've been duped, you lessen the chance you'll become a statistic.  While it's easy for you and I to sit back and say, 'How could she have been so naive?' or 'I'd never fall for that!', be careful about being too overconfident. 

In doing my research for this article, an article profiling a fantastic website for victims of romance scams fell into my lap.  Literally.  And, from none other than my 53 years married mom, reading the morning paper!  Thanks mom for such a timely catch!  The article (3) profiled the website was started by Barb Sluppick, a scam victim from Missouri.

According to the article's author James Eli Shiffer, governments have a hard time pursuing most perpetrators because they usually live in other countries and, are thus, 'out of their jurisdiction'.  As Shiffer notes,

"The epicenter of the scams appears to be West Africa, particularly Nigeria, where young men reportedly work through the night in Internet cafes perpetrating dozens of frauds simultaneously."

I found to be the most organized, comprehensive site I've come across to date on the subject.  Most of the other sites I've found seem to be one page commercial 'link farms' trying to entice you to sign up for a 'sketchy-looking' product or a dating site (via  affiliate or commission-based links). 

Sluppick's site appears non-commercial, and she started it simply as a Yahoo Group two years ago.  The website is a treasure trove of resources, and the site's sole focus is helping victims and educating anyone and everyone with an interest on the topic.  You MUST check out this site!  In fact, this is not just any webs site.  This is also a thriving community!

Here are a few of the major site sections (and some 'juicy looking' subsections):

  • Tips (FBI warnings , scam baiting dangers, what is a romance scam)
  • Reporting (making a report, reporting links, goverment agencies)
  • Links (very detailed/rich, including government links, assistance links, scam education links (including YouTube videos), where to go to contact your legislators, Nigerian links, International reporting links, identity theft links and even Nigerian hospital links – because a common scam is stating you are stuck in a hospital due to an unpaid medical bill)
  • Romance Scams Center (chat, peer counselors, support group)
  • Dealing with the Dangers (including FBI fact sheets and a really helpful list of major dating sites and where to go on their site to report a scammer -

2) Use features already provided by dating sites to steer clear of trouble

Back to the problem of men impersonating lesbians, my 'online dating savvy' group member states the best way she's found to smoke out men posing as lesbians is to use features such as audio and/or video chat, so you can hear the other person and, preferably, see them.  She says she always requires the other person to do this before she will interact with them.  She's found this to be very helpful in keeping away most lesbian impersonators.

3) Visit the U.S. Department of State website

I found very comprehensive information at the United State's Department of State website.  You can locate information on dating scams involving money here:

In particular I made note of the following sentence at their site: "Correspondents who quickly move to professions of romantic interest or discussion of intimate matters are likely inventions of scammers.   A request for funds almost always marks a fraudulent correspondent. U.S. citizens are cautioned against sending any money to persons they have not actually met." The site also lists several types of scams, including the very important and frequently used category of the 'Damsel in Distress'."

In closing (for now)...

So, you can see that anytime you are online today, you are at risk of being approached by someone trying to pull one of these scams.  You could, for example, receive a 'fishy' email or a chat or email message on Facebook.  You don't have to be on a dating site to be approached.  Even Facebook now has dating applications, so if you 'play' you are exposing yourself to potential attempts.

Lastly, the ever optimistic and perhaps naive of us wonder: will dating sites become more sophisticated in weeding out the rotten apples?  Now, I'm the lesbian love coach but I don't have a crystal ball.  I don't advise operating on 'hope' while you are online dating.  Until the track record of dating sites dealing with these types of threats markedly improves (and some doubt if it ever will), you need to do your homework. 

Let's not forget too that those with a propensity to perpetrate often find ways around whatever the 'good guys' do to stop them from operating.

P.S. - Please contact me to discuss your online dating experiences

I'm continuing to research what is known about dating scams and online dating problems specific to lesbians.  If you've been a victim of an internet dating or romance scam or experienced something unnerving online you'd like to talk about, I'd like to interview you about your experience.  I'm also interested in hearing what you are doing to help make your online dating experience a safe one.  Please contact me at my email address below at your earliest convenience to let me know.  Thank you!


For 25 years now, Barb Elgin, MSW, LCSW, Certified Singles Coach, has been discovering the secrets to lasting lesbian love.  Now she wants to share them with you!  To jump start your love life, call Barb and talk to her live on Wednesdays evening from 7-10p ET at 352-347-3577/toll free 866-396-2272.  You can learn more about Barb here – and her email is

Disclaimer: The suggestions and feedback offered in this column are but one perspective of multiple approaches to dealing with problems or challenges. Information provided in articles and advice columns should not be used as a substitute for coaching or therapy when these services are needed. None of this information should be your only source when making important life decisions. This information should not be used for diagnosing or treating a particular problem, nor should it take the place of a consultation with a trained professional. It is your responsibility to consult a professional prior to making any life decisions.

Related Links:
» Online Dating Safety Tips
» 12 Tips for Safe Online Dating


(1) E-Romance scams common and costly, but victims find little help' by James Eli Shiffer, McClatchy Newspapers and online at various sites like

(2) Staten Island attorney and ACS deputy accused of impersonating woman on lesbian dating site', Staten Island Advance

(3) E-Romance scams common and costly, but victims find little help' by James Eli Shiffer, McClatchy Newspapers and online at various sites like

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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