De Beste Datingsites
One of the first mystery novels I ever read was Mary Higgins Clark’s Loves Music, Loves to Dance. This 1991 bestseller centres on a clever killer who finds his murder victims in the personal ads of a trendy magazine. I was probably eight or nine when I read this book (don’t ask) and the little I knew about personal ads I’d learned from the Rupert Holmes song “Escape”. But if he could accidentally go on a blind date with the pina colada-loving woman he was already seeing, it certainly seemed believable that someone could accidentally go on a date with a murderer.
You might think that a story like Loves Music, Loves to Dance couldn’t take place in the internet era. A personal ad in a print publication is one-way, a broadcast signal, belonging to a time when letters and answering services were a thing, when an entire meet-cute (or mystery novel, for that matter) could hinge on whether or not someone happened to be at home to receive a phone call at a particular time. By contrast, the digital iteration of personal ads is all about instant communication. We can text, WhatsApp, FaceTime, like, favourite, and swipe all day every day, and we can get a true sense of what someone is like based on the information they’ve put online instead of relying on a few lines of text in the back of a magazine. So this should make sussing out the weirdos and creeps easier.
It actually just makes it harder.
As a crime fiction writer, I routinely traffic in weirdos and creeps. A lot of interesting stories start at the place where you realise someone isn’t quite who they claim to be – in fact, that might be at the cold, black heart of every single crime novel out there. When it came to the third novel in my Roxane Weary mystery series, I wanted to explore the layers of deceit in modern relationships, which meant I wanted to take a deep dive into the world of online dating.
I’m happily spoken for and have been since 2011, but before then I dabbled just a little in Craigslist personal ads. Before I go on about how Craigslist personals are so unbelievably sketchy that the site actually removed the ability to post them, I’ve made multiple lasting friendships through the “strictly platonic” section. So the experience wasn’t all bad. I did not meet any romantic soulmates this way though; I only ever went on one second date with anyone, a girl named Suzanne who showed up to said second date already drunk and then got mad at me for having seen Avatar without her and never emailed me again. When I started researching for The Stories You Tell, I quickly discovered that everything in the online dating world had changed (while, also, nothing had).
There are an awful lot of dating apps a person can explore. They include options like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, Christian Mingle, Our Time, Match.com, eharmony, Zoosk, OkCupid, Grindr, Coffee Meets Bagel, plus a couple dozen more you probably haven’t even heard of. Whether you seek a late-night hookup, a quick breakfast date, or a match based on sun signs, there’s a particular dating app for you. They each have their own particular demographic and approach, but the basic principle is the same: users create a profile that shows themselves in, ostensibly, the best possible light, and attempt to connect with other users who’ve done the same.
More people are finding love this way these days – one in three relationships in the UK start online (and it’s even higher in the US, at two in five). As these types of connections become more and more commonplace, it unfortunately makes sense that some people are increasingly more likely to exploit them. Here are a few that I came across during my research:
- The “Craigslist Killer” Philip Markoff murdered three women he had met on Craigslist in New England in the space of a few days in April 2009. Books, made-for-TV movies, and multiple docu-series episodes about this case have come about in the decade since.
- Adam Hilarie met a woman through the dating site Plenty of Fish and took her bowling; the date seemed to go well, because the woman texted him later, saying, “I had a good time and would like to see you again”. But the following night, his date showed up at his house with two male accomplices and, after robbing him, shot him in the head.
- Sydney Loofe met a woman on Tinder and they hit it off. But when they met up for a second date, Loofe was killed and dismembered by her date and an older male accomplice.
- Mediterranean island Cyprus experienced its first ever serial killings thanks to online dating sites and the 35-year-old army officer who used them to find the seven women he confessed to murdering.
- Nurse Samantha Stewart was murdered by her Tinder date who then used her credit card to flee cross-country to Los Angeles, where he was later arrested – with another woman found tied up in his hotel room.
- Usha Patel was stabbed to death in her home after inviting an online paramour over.
- Meshach Cornwall invited over a woman he met on Plenty of Fish and they spent the night together. She returned two days later and robbed and killed him, making off with cell phones, guns, a television and a car.