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Should Dating Websites Like Match.com Be Held Responsible When Relationships Go Bad?

Submitted by on January 28, 2013 – 11:21 amOne Comment
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Dating websites like Match.com like to brag about how many happy couples that they’ve helped introduce in the past. And, while it’s true that they have made a lot of people out there happy—just about everyone knows someone who met online these days—it’s also true that not everyone that they help link up ends up happily ever after. Some of the relationships that they help to start even turn out really, really bad. But, should they be held responsible for those relationships?

We pose this question because, recently, a woman named Mary Kay Beckman decided to sue Match.com for $10 million, citing negligence, failure to warn, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive trade, and negligent infliction of emotional distress after she had a bad experience with the dating site. Back in September 2010, she met a man named Wade Ridley on Match.com and began dating him. But, after just 10 days, she realized that they weren’t compatible so she broke up with him. He didn’t respond well to that, though, and responded by hiding in her garage one day and attacking her with a knife. She survived the brutal attack and Ridley was eventually thrown behind bars for committing the crime. But, the man—who was also wanted by police for allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend—committed suicide in prison.

Beckman’s entire life was obviously impacted by the relationship, the horrendous crime that Ridley committed, and his eventual death. So, she’s suing Match.com because she was under the impression that, by using the site, she would be able to find “a stable and loving relationship with another member,” which is not what she got. Instead, she was paired up with a man who was most definitely not the kind of man she wanted to find through the site. But, does she deserve to get paid for that?

Although we definitely feel bad for her, the thing is that people who date online have to be more careful and understand what they’re getting themselves into before they start relationships with people. While we could argue that Match.com doesn’t screen their members well enough, it’d be nearly impossible for them to weed out a guy like Ridley from their system. Additionally, they can’t guarantee that every single couple they pair up will end up falling madly in love and be happy forever. So, we think that if the courts appoint Beckman a victory in this case, they may be opening Pandora’s Box. If Beckman can get paid for what happened to her, what’s stopping someone else from suing Match.com for getting into an abusive relationship after joining the site? Or, further, what’s to stop anyone who’s ever had an unsuccessful relationship through Match.com from trying to cash in?

As we said, Beckman went through a tragic experience that changed her life forever. So, she has the right to be upset. But, if she wants to sue anyone, she should go after Ridley’s estate. He’s the one who hurt her, not Match.com.

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