When Kissing and Telling Can Save a Life
Jacey Gordon was married for 19 years-long enough for the world to change. After her husband passed away in 2003, she reentered the dating game in a thoroughly modern way by joining Match.com, eHarmony and several other online dating services. What she discovered was that her twenty-year-old notions about the ethics of love were no longer par for the course.
"I was a little naÔve," admits Jacey, who chose to go online in order to broaden her horizons beyond the confines of Hilton Head. "I wanted to find someone with whom I could enter into a lifetime partnership. But I learned quite quickly about the players and opportunists who were going into it with other agendas."
When it became clear that a gentleman with whom she had been communicating for three months was trying to con her out of a large sum of money, she realized that she was a potential target. Even more disturbing to Jacey was that, although there were over 1,500 online dating sites at the time, there was nowhere to report a bad experience.
Instead of preaching the dangers of online dating, Jacey decided to do something positive. She started a website called Kiss & Tell List! where people can post their experiences-negative or otherwise-free of charge, in the hopes their stories might prevent others from being victimized. Consider it a 21st century version of the nosy neighbors, concerned family members, church communities and town matchmakers who were responsible for keeping people safe before the world got so big.
"We consider Kiss & Tell List! to be an important tool to hold accountable those who are abusing the dating sites," said Jacey, citing cases of fraud, date rape, pedophilia and even murder. "It's a very serious situation right now. There are sociopaths and psychopaths, but there are also good people who simply want to have traditional healthy relationships. So we're not trying to discourage people from using these services; we're trying to encourage them to practice safe dating."
With the site up and running since February of last year, Jacey is now pushing for more stories. Individuals reported on the site are not identified by legal name, photo, address or phone number-simply by their usernames and a silhouette to indicate gender. Members of the site can read through all the juicy details divulged by others, and even be alerted via email when a new posting is made. There is also a section for people who have been reported to tell their own stories, in case they feel they have been unjustly represented. As the number of stories increases, it becomes a great way to do a sort of background check on someone with whom you are communicating.
Meanwhile, Jacey lists a few red flags to beware of: displays of anger, pressuring, excessive bragging, inconsistencies, purposefully demeaning comments, refusal to make phone contact or post a photo, and reluctance to introduce you to friends or family. Her advice: insist on meeting in a public place, never leave your drink unattended, email through the dating site rather than your personal email, and resist the temptation to overlook or rationalize any of the red flag behaviors.
"If you can help even one person realize that they have to be extremely careful," concludes Jacey, "if you have saved one person from rape or worse, just one person or one family from a heartache, that's very gratifying."