Ask Amy: Date wants to pick up the (background) check

September 25, 2011

DEAR AMY: I recently created an online profile on two online dating sites after friends convinced me that these sites are great ways to meet guys in my area.

But I am scared to meet these strangers.

I want to know if I can trust my potential date, especially now with news reports surfacing from Aruba that a woman’s disappearance is linked to a man she met on an Internet dating site.

As finding love online becomes increasingly socially acceptable, is it okay to pay for a background check, to know that your date does not have a criminal record? -- Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: You cannot trust someone you meet online any more than you can trust a blind date set up from an acquaintance.

You cannot trust him any more, but you shouldn’t trust him any less, either.

There are always risks to meeting and dating people. You should use all the common-sense rules to meeting a stranger you’ve met online that you would use for meeting any other potential date for the first time.

Meet for coffee (not alcohol). Meet in a public place. Give a friend the date’s online user name and contact information. Don’t provide personal contact information, but communicate through the dating site.

That having been said, if you are scared, follow your instincts. You should always follow your instincts; they are your greatest gift when it comes to your security.

It is okay to run a background check on a potential date, but this seems like a waste of time and your assets if you are checking everyone you intend to meet for coffee. Save the investigation for someone you are interested in having a second date with.

The woman whose disappearance you refer to may have met a dangerous person online, but the technology isn’t to blame. Use this incident to be cautious, careful and aware.

DEAR AMY: If “Office Bound” does not have a door to close so he or she can protect herself from her chatty co-worker and get some work done, perhaps he/she can put a piece of yellow caution tape across the cubicle opening with a sign saying “open for work-related questions from (specific times).”

I was a computer programmer/project manager for many years. My co-workers loved to bring me their problems. I wanted to help, so I set times — once in the morning for about 15 minutes and once in the afternoon. This is when they could bring questions, problems, etc., to me.

Amazingly, lots of their questions had been answered before they got to my question time. -- Dave

DEAR DAVE: I like the idea of setting “office hours,” as it were, but most cubicle farm dwellers don’t get to use caution tape to mark off their space.

I agree that giving people time to solve their own problems often results in ... people solving their own problems.

But shush -- don’t tell my co-workers; otherwise my career as the office “Lucy van Pelt” wouldn’t last long.

DEAR AMY: My adult son is under the idea that we owe him. I just returned from a visit with him and his family. Right after picking me up at the airport, he proceeded to tell me that he would provide for his kids for the rest of his life. I said, “Even when they are adults?”

He said yes, that is his job!

Later he told me to send my grandson at college $600. I have six grandchildren and cannot afford to give them all money when in college and I feel that if I do for one, I should do for all.

My son keeps saying, “I know you have it.”

My husband and I are comfortable, but we want to save some resources for when we are much older. We spent a great deal of money on college for this son and his brother.

Do you think my son should lecture me on my finances? Respect your wise opinion. -- L

DEAR L: You are responsible for your own life, your own finances and your own relationship with your grandchildren.

You obviously don’t want your son to lecture you on how to spend your money, and now you need to tell him.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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