As an introduction to my experience with an online dating site, I thought I’d share a related article I recently discovered in Glamour magazine. Rather than discuss dating websites, the Glamour report “Sex With A Stranger” chose to investigate another, much skimpier phenomenon- cyber sex gone live. According to this report, a multitude of women are turning to the Internet for “empowering” sexual hookups. These days, they have a plateful of choices, including AdultFriendFinder, SexSearch, and the infamous Craigslist Casual Encounters, among others.

I already knew these sites existed, as I spent a lot of time on many of them looking for potential cases of trafficking for Not For Sale’s SlaveryMap. What I didn’t know, however, was how popular these sites are. They are, in fact, more popular than traditional dating sites like eHarmony and Match.com. According to Glamour, Match.com had 5 million visitors in the month of May, while AdultFriendFinder had almost 24 million.

Although it may feel more empowering and safer to post a picture on a hookup site and then meet up with a sexual partner after having exchanged a few emails, according to this report, it isn’t necessarily safer. Just because a guy says he’s STD-free doesn’t mean he actually is and many of the women who were featured in this article reported near misses of being handcuffed against their will and even being held at gunpoint. When engaging in online hookups, padded “resumes” can go both ways.

For those choosing to dabble in the exciting albeit risque world of online hookups, Glamour suggested some tips to make these encounters much safer; and really, when you think about it, they apply to many areas of dating. Some of these tips include meeting in a neutral public place like a coffeehouse or a restaurant, telling friends or relatives where you are, as well as keeping them updated about your whereabouts throughout the evening, and finally practicing safe sex. The playing field is wide and there is certainly a range of possibilities, but if you’re going to play the field, play it safe.