This study examined the impact of the Interneton personal and sexual safety for women meeting men through online ads. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected with an online survey. Of the 740 women who completed the survey, 568 reported having met in person with a man who answered their online personal ad. Results revealed that women used e-mail communication prior to a face-to-face meeting to negotiate such issues as safety, boundaries, sexual preferences, history of sexually transmitted infections, and condom use. Thirty percent of respondents engaged in sexual activity on their first encounter. Seventy-seven percent of respondents who met an online partner did not use condoms for their first sexual encounter. The high frequency and intensity of e-mail communication prior to meeting in person cultivated acceleration of intimacy for the individuals involved and may have affected women’s decisions to engage in risky sexual behaviors.
Source: “Personal safety and sexual safety for women using online personal ads” from Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Volume 4, Number 2, 27-37
The University of Texas, where the study was performed, offers more insight. It’s interesting to note that all these women were not just “impulsive types”:
When it came to personal, physical safety, the women in the study made all the right detective moves. They conducted Google searches, requested photographs, spoke with the men by phone, and asked and re-asked questions to check for inconsistencies. They also made sure to meet in public places and let friends or family know where they were going, and with whom. Some even hired agencies to do background checks before meeting their dates—extreme, maybe—but on the Internet, where anyone can be anything they want, one can’t be too careful.
So what’s the reasoning?
“Online dating can lead to feelings of accelerated intimacy,” says Paige Padgett, PhD, the author of the study and a research associate in the UT School of Public Health’s Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control. “You are able to disclose deeply personal information faster than you would if you were just meeting face to face for the first time,” she explains… Because all of the nitty-gritty preliminaries are out of the way before you actually meet the person, Padgett believes that this may foster a sense of relationship before there is an actual relationship.
She further elaborates in the Houston Chronicle:
“They may not think of it as being risky sex,” said Padgett, a research associate who specializes in epidemiology and sex research. “They don’t see it as a one-night stand, even though it might turn out that way, because they really feel they have a relationship with this man.”
Join 25K+ readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.