Nov 27, 2006

Investigate Before You Date?

"Don’t Date Him Girl," "Unfaithful People," "Cheaters Hall of Shame…" you name it….

Almost every week a new website emerges with the sole purpose of identifying a cheating spouse or lover. The intended goal of these sites is to create a database of cheaters in order to prevent other people from becoming a victim of infidelity.

I guess the idea behind these websites goes something like this: You meet someone new who happens to capture your interest, so you decided to check his or her relational history online, and depending on what you discover you either follow your heart or you abandon your romantic intentions and move on to someone else.

While the idea is appealing, does it really work? I have my doubts.

To begin with, creating a database of cheaters is problematic simply because too many people cheat. If the estimates are correct, it’s safe to assume that half the population may cheat at one time or another. So, for a database to be somewhat accurate, it will have to list millions of people. But, if most people are listed, how useful does that information become? As a general rule, information is most useful when it identifies a small and defined group of people. When information applies to too many people, it becomes less informative because it doesn’t help people make decisions. If most of the people you are interested in dating have cheated at one time or another, how do you decide who to date?

Related to the point above, not only do too many people cheat, but there are too many databases currently in existence. Given the hundreds of databases that exist, and that these databases do not share the names of cheaters with each other, to do a thorough search requires extensive time and effort. Just trying to identify all of the databases that exist can take the better part of a day. Not to mention the fact that registration is often required before a search for a cheater can even be done. When you think about it, who has all of the time and effort required to conduct even a minimal check?

Another problem with these sites is the tone they take. For the most part, these sites come across as being vindictive in nature. Despite the fact that these sites claim that they are trying to prevent others from getting hurt, more often than not, these sites come across as little more than an opportunity for an ex-lover to settle a score. And when people encounter comments and claims made out of spite, they tend to discount what’s said. After all, who hasn’t been hurt by an ex-lover? And who really takes heed of what an ex-lover has to say? People assume that ex-lovers are biased and that they only present one side of the story.

Finally, these sites don’t really take into account the most basic tenet of human nature: Love is based on faith, hope and promise - not facts. When romance is involved, people are blind to the truth. After all, even convicted serial murders receive marriage proposals. I suspect that websites designed to identify cheaters, will have little impact on people’s decision-making when it comes to love and romance. Why? the promise of love will always trump information, logic and reason.

I don’t want to come across as being too critical. I believe that these websites serve a purpose; it’s just not the purpose they claim to serve. In their proper perspective, these sites can be entertaining to read and they can provide a place for an ex-lover to vent about things that went wrong. As long as liable isn’t being committed, I don’t see any harm being done. I just don’t see much value in them either.


My Mouth said...

Perhaps the sorting mechanism in peoples' minds is not whether their current partner's name is on the cheater's list, but the amount of venom/antipathy in the description of the cheater. For example, if someone is accused of cheating, but the tone isn't overly harsh, then this may not affect the dating decision. On the other hand, if the tone is very harsh and the person is described as a "serial cheater," this may raise red flags.

I suppose this website works after the first date (assuming there's no love at first sight), before the couple has a chance to fall in love.

Eyes said...

Those sites are scary because you don't know the source any better than then the accused.


Anonymous said...

I used those sites and what's even scarier is the predators that try to use those sites to score with injured parties!