New Jersey’s bogus Internet Dating Safety law

The Internet Dating Safety Act became law in the state of New Jersey, the home of Lovefraud, on January 13, 2008. It is supposed to take effect next month.

The law applies only to New Jersey, USA, residents. It mandates that any Internet dating site must disclose to New Jersey members, clearly and conspicuously, whether it conducts criminal background checks. “The disclosure shall be provided when an electronic mail message is sent or received by a New Jersey member, on the profile describing a member to a New Jersey member, and on the website pages of the Internet dating service used when a New Jersey member signs up,” the law states. “A disclosure shall be in bold, capital letters in at least 12-point type.”

“Internet dating companies bear a responsibility to their customers to provide basic screening to weed out threatening individuals,” said Richard J. Codey, president of the New Jersey Senate, one of the law’s sponsors. “At the very least, Internet daters should at least know whether or not their chosen Web service provides such screening. This will open a lot of people’s eyes to the dangerous aspects of Internet dating.”

Cody’s last sentence represents only possible good that will come from this law—people in New Jersey may become aware of the dangers of Internet dating. In reality, the law is bogus. Online dating companies will never be able to screen out threatening individuals, even if they tried. lobbied for law

New Jersey, I’m embarrassed to say, was the first state to fall for a lobbying initiative by the dating website

I wrote about a year ago, in Lying, cheating and online dating. claims that it does not allow married people to sign up, and that it conducts a criminal background check of all members. Users should not believe that is safe.

How does screen for married people? It asks them to certify that they are not married.

And how does run a background check? According to the Internet Alliance, provides the names people give when they sign up—without attempting to verify any identities—to, which then runs the names through its database of criminal records. gets its information from various state governments that choose to participate—and many of them don’t. Plus, state records are notoriously incomplete—many counties do not even report crimes to a publicly accessible central database.

The bottom line is that claims to screen for married people and criminals, but it reality, its screening is almost useless.

The law is, however, a marketing coup. has succeeded in legislating its business model.

Other big players in online dating—such as and Yahoo Personals—opposed the law. concluded that background checks were worthless. But many users won’t know that.

“If consumers see a state mandated warning on the page of one company that doesn’t do screenings, over and over again, they’re going to think something is wrong,” says Braden Cox of NetChoice, who testified against the bill during hearings. “They’ll search out a site that does these screenings, and they’ll not read about the failures of criminal screenings because these will be buried in the terms of service. The result—a mistaken sense of safety.”

For more information on’s shenanigans, see Hot but virtuous is an unlikely match for online dating service, in the New York Times.

Falling in love with a fantasy

Online dating is a huge business. According to Juniper Research, an Internet consultancy, online dating represents a $700 million market. Every month, 20 million people visit online dating sites.

Here’s what these 20 million people should know: All Internet dating sites are dangerous.

As Lovefraud explains in Online Seduction, anyone who falls in love with someone over the Internet falls in love with a fantasy. You never really know who you’re talking to. And much of the interpersonal information you usually use in order to evaluate someone—tone of voice, body language—is missing.

Furthermore, background checks on dating sites will never work because:

  • It is impossible to find out if someone is married.
  • Criminal records databases are incomplete.
  • Crimes like fraud are rarely prosecuted, so there is no conviction and no record.
  • Domestic violence often goes unreported.
  • Many people who do not have criminal records are still predators.

Lovefraud readers have told many, many stories of becoming involved with sociopaths who seemed to be upstanding members of their communities, but were, in fact, emotionally, financially and even physically abusive. Much of this behavior never gets exposed in court, either criminal or civil. Therefore, there is no record.

Report dating ads on Lovefraud

Lovefraud endorses no dating sites. In fact, we make every effort to block dating sites from advertising on Lovefraud. Every time we see one, we add it to our banned list.

Still, you may see dating ads on This is because Google enables advertisers to target ads geographically. So a dating site for Australians, for example, may advertise on our website, and here in New Jersey, we’ll never see it.

If you see an ad for a dating site on Lovefraud, please let us know. Send the url ( to [email protected], and we’ll block it.

Listen to your instincts

Dating sites represent a perfect storm for cheaters, criminals and con artists. Predators see plenty of targets who have already admitted to being lonely. Predators can hide their true identities and intentions. Predators can work many targets at once, looking for one—or more—who will give them what they want.

Yes, there are normal people on dating sites who just want to meet someone nice. So if you’re going to use a dating site, here’s my advice: Only get involved with people who live near you. This way, you can spend quality time with them—and check them out.

Finally, with online dating, keep your eyes and ears open, be skeptical—not starry-eyed, and always listen to your instincts.

Comment on this article

36 Comments on "New Jersey’s bogus Internet Dating Safety law"

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Dear OxDrover. I think we keep doing what doesnt work because as humans we do the best we can, with what we know at the time. As we get older, with the benefit of experience, wisdom, pain, we evolve into more dynamic persons. I realise looking back, that I had plenty of blind spots, which I was totally unaware of at the time, but equally frustrated by the influence of – then, when revealed, it makes sense.

I love your analogy of working with animals, I can so relate to that.

Wow, this is a very active discussion group, isn’t it?

To address a few of the questions and concerns that came up regarding my post on Cuddle Parties:

1) I didn’t really look at all at the material being discussed, nor did I realize until today that I might be the only male posting material. That said, I tried to keep my comments focused on the “don’t go to a CUDDLE PARTY … predators” comment.

2) holywatersalt says: “dumbdownded attempts to be FWB (friends with benefits)”. I doubt anyone who has ever attended a Cuddle Party would agree.

3) righteous woman says: “I saw a cuddle party on [TV] … They are a tool that some people use to build/understand intimacy and trust.” Bingo! A Cuddle Party is structured as a workshop dealing extensively with boundary-setting skills. About 45 – 55 minutes is spent in lecture and directed exercises, and the balance of the event provides an opportunity to try some of the stuff in a very safe and structured environment. Yes, many people come simply to meet other people, but other people come to work to work on personal issues.

4) holywatersalt says: “DougL is another person who was quick to form an opinion without knowing what the site was about” Uhhh, I’m not sure I really formed an opinion, beyond thinking Free was a bit harsh in her assessment of something about which I have strong feelings and about which she seemed to have no direct experience or have done much research.

5) holywatersalt says: “This is not therapeutic” That is correct, and never advertised as such. The FAQs very clearly say Cuddle Parties aren’t a substitute for therapy. But so what? Miniature golf isn’t therapy either, but that doesn’t make it inherently undesirable, does it?

6) I went to a Cuddle Party on Friday (my first since I stopped hosting my own), and in the welcome circle one woman said she was there on the recommendation of her therapist. (I never had anyone say that who came to my parties when I was hosting.)

7) holywatersalt says: “just some guy getting a party together” About half of the facilitators are women, and I think most of the people actively hosting parties are women. The party I attended on Friday was hosted by a guy with a female assistant, and I always had a female assistant when I was hosting parties. Parties in Alabama are co-hosted by a male and female.

Also, while anyone can throw any kind of party they want, being able to use the trademark “Cuddle Party” takes a lot of work (and money). The founders (REiD and Marcia) started hosting parties in New York about 4 years ago, but they didn’t begin training others until they had hosted almost 100 of their own and fine-tuned the format. The training training starts with a 3-day, 25-hour workshop. That is followed by conference calls and individual phone conversations. Cost is $1490. No one can host a party until they have submitted a tape of themselves going through the 45-minute format, and the criteria is that the facilitator-in-training must “own” the material, not just be reading it. I think it’s less than 50% who get past that hurdle on their first attempt. A Red Cross First Aid/CPR class is required, and then the person can host their first “review party.” Everyone attending is asked to complete a questionnaire that asks questions like “Did you feel safe?”, “Would you come again?”, “Would you recommend Cuddle Party to your friends?” Those go back to REiD and Marcia and are the basis for a telephone review. After a minimum of 3 review parties, if the two founders feel the person is really ready, they become officially certified and can use the trademark freely.

8 ) holywatersalt says: “This is an anonymous get-together meant to act as a shield for swingers.” That is a statement with absolutely no basis in fact, and I challenge holywatersalt, or anyone else who thinks that is true, to find one posting anywhere on the internet where someone WHO HAS ATTENDED A CUDDLE PARTY says they have anything to do with swinging.

At the beginning of the party people introduce themselves and say why they’ve come. At one of my parties we were working our way around the circle, and a couple announced “We’re swingers and we’re here to meet like-minded couples.” They may have been the only couple I didn’t thank for coming, and a couple of other people who had previously attended my parties politely told them they weren’t going to find that. After we went over the 15 rules that expand on the “No Sex”, “Pajamas stay on at all times” theme to really drive that home, they took the “if you think this isn’t an activity for you, then you are free to leave and get a full refund” option. No, Cuddle Parties have nothing whatsoever to do with swinging.

9) righteous woman says: “I know on the surface it sounds unseemly” Sadly, yes. That appearance, for those who have never attended, is the biggest challenge faced by Cuddle Party facilitators. (Especially the male facilitators.)

10) righteous woman says: “It is just not your thing. Not mine either” A fair statement. True for some people even after attending one.

11) holywatersalt says: “I see these parties as totally lecherous”. Please tell me how you can “see” something without using your eyes. I hate to sound defensive, but come on. Have you even spent some time looking at any of the Cuddle Party web sites, or is it just that something named “Cuddle Party” can’t be good? Again, I challenge you to find a single listing on the internet where someone WHO HAS ATTENDED A CUDDLE PARTY would use the word “lecherous” or anything similar to describe it. (Please look for yourself, but I can say that I’ve been looking at every Google Alert for “Cuddle Party” that’s come out in the last 2 years, and there haven’t been any negative postings by people who have attended.)

12) findingmyselfagain says: “I looked up that cuddle party thing – that does give me the creeps” That’s not an unusual feeling for people who have never attended. A few people who feel this way have decide to try one anyway, and they are always the most surprised to find how wrong their preconceptions were.

13) OxDrover says: “Does that mean that you go somewhere and you cuddle with a total stranger(s)?” Not really. A Cuddle Party provides an environment where that is possible if you want to try it, while making it incredibly easy to say also no, thanks.

14) OxDrover says: “Why would ANYONE want to cuddle with someone they have just been introduced to?” There can be lots of reasons why cuddling (or back rubs or foot rubs, which happen a lot at Cuddle Parties before people decide they want to cuddle) is attractive to some people. It isn’t for everyone, just like nudity may work for some of your friends and not others.

15) OxDrover says: “some people may fear intimacy, but does cuddling with total strangers get you “therapy” for that?” Some people, in some situations, may find the comfort and safety of a Cuddle Party an attractive place to experience non-sexual touch. I remember a woman who told the group she was a rape survivor and hadn’t allowed any man to touch her in several years. She felt a Cuddle Party was a good first step to start returning to normalcy (her word) because of the safety, structure and supervision.

16) OxDrover says: “Where are the boundaries?” There is a set of rules that set very clear boundaries, and they are discussed in great detail at the beginning of the party. They are published on most of the CP websites, and there is no ambiguity whatsoever when the welcome circle is complete. Probably the most important are: “Say no if you are a no” and “no touch at any time without a specific request and permission.”

17) alohatraveler says: “this is the perfect avenue for Sociopaths to position themselves as sensitive fellows who just need a cuddle.” That may be true, but what makes a Cuddle Party any worse for that than a bar or club or any place else to meet people?

18) alohatraveler says: “Imagine the awkwardness of turning down the poor guy that no one wants to cuddle” This is addressed extensively in the welcome circle. In fact, the very first thing that happens, even before introductions, is the “No Exercise”. “Turn to the person next to you. Pick an A and a B. A, it’s your job to ask B to kiss you, and B, it’s your job to unapologetically say no. Even if the person asking is the most beautiful human you’ve ever seen, you MUST say no. Do this a few times, then switch” A variation follows where the people turn to the person on their other side and do much the same thing. Again, the only answer is NO. Gets people used to saying and hearing NO. There is follow-up in the rules discussion emphasizing that no means no, and that it’s nothing personal. This is a relatively long (and very important) part of the Cuddle Party welcome format.

Part of the discussion covers people who come to say no to everyone (typically people who have trouble saying no to anyone). Strong emphasis on that being very, very ok. Even encouraged.

So about the poor guy — well, that’s directly addressed. Short version is, everyone remembers their high school dance when getting told NO was devastating, but think back to kindergarten when “no, thanks” wasn’t a big deal. It’s hard to give this justice in just a couple of sentences, but part of the magic of Cuddle Parties is that this almost never turns out to actually be an issue.

19) alohatraveler says: “cave to the pressure of the group” There is no group pressure. It just absolutely, positively doesn’t exist. Possibly because most of the people don’t know each other, so there aren’t any groups to do pressuring, but also the rules and welcome circle get severely in the way of pressure.

20) alohatraveler says: “now you are cuddling with some man you really don’t want to” Could happen, but the whole party is structured to keep this from happening. One of the rules is, “You don’t have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.” Strongly emphasized, and fits in with the discussion about getting a “no, thanks” not meaning anything personal.

21) alohatraveler says: “you are feeling his enjoyment on your backside” As a CP facilitator, I can say that arousal happens far less often than you might expect, and it is addressed in the welcome circle. But let’s say it happens for sake of discussion. Exiting a cuddle quickly and easily and without guilt is covered in the welcome circle. For that matter, another rule says you can leave a Cuddle Party at any time for any reason. This is all part of the safety.

22) Free says: “I apologize.” 🙂 No problem. You gave me an opportunity to share some information. Not sure how many people here have changed their minds, but perhaps a few on the fence might be decide to look a little closer, and maybe even visit to see for themselves.

23) Free [talks about her ex, with words like, “dig the knife in further”] Jeez, what a sweetheart.

24) Free says, “A lot of people have trouble with that word [no]” One of the most rewarding experiences I ever had as a CP facilitator came at my second party. A woman there had gone to a lot of parties for swingers, and pretty much didn’t have “no” in her vocabulary. At one swing party in her recent past, she was with 2 other guys, and a third decided to just join without asking. She hated that she didn’t feel empowered to tell him to go away. Shortly after attending my Cuddle Party she called crying. For the first time in her life she had been able to say “No”. She had been at a weekend swinger’s convention and got hit on by the same guy who hadn’t asked. She told the guy to go away and leave her alone. She didn’t want to be with him that day or that weekend or ever again. And she said it was the No exercise that had given her the courage to do that. Your mileage may vary, but to have helped just that one woman be able to tell a predator to get away from her made the whole training and cost completely worthwhile for me.

The irony is that I had initially thought of the “no” exercise as an ice-breaker. A throw away, never realizing how hard it is for some people to say no. I never had anyone else crying from the emotional release, but several people (both men and women, often identifying themselves as having gone through sexual abuse as a child) said the no exercise was the most meaningful part of the workshop for them.

25) Free says, “there are a lot of people out there who do not respect boundaries”. Yes, and if the setup was simply, “Has everyone read the rules? Any questions? Ok, let’s cuddle and have fun.”, I think there would be massive problems with boundaries not being respected. For me, the greatest accomplishment of the Cuddle Party founders was to figure out how to structure a party where that doesn’t happen. It’s hard to condense a 45-minute discussion into a single paragraph, but it really does work. I’m sure that a substantial number of men came to my parties thinking they were going to get a little feel, but the reality is that out of roughly 100 men that came to my parties, I only had a problem with one guy. Unfortunately, he came from a part of the world where women are considered property, and where divorce requires simply saying “I divorce you” three times. He also had apparently spent much of the party talking about his contempt for America. Near the end he saw an opportunity and tried to put his hand under a woman’s blouse. What is interesting is that she still felt that the environment was safe — it was him, not the structure, and she returned many times (with no further problems). He, obviously, was never allowed to return to any of my parties, and I told the facilitator on the other side of LA about him as well. Truth be told, I suspect the odds of getting groped on a bus or crowded subway are much greater than getting groped at a Cuddle Party. Too much structure, and too much emphasis on personal integrity. Hmmm, maybe there is group pressure at a party, but if so, it is directed to staying within the rules.

26) Free asked about, “a party plan for people who know each other already?” I would have done private parties if asked, but never saw a demand. As far as I know, that is true for all of the other facilitators as well.

27) Free asked “do you think he’s been to one of yours?” [laughing] Fortunately, no.

28) Free, thank you for finding the quote that talks about the type of people who go to Cuddle Parties, “Normal People.” Yes, lots of variety, but few that seemed strange. I spent a lot of time at the party on Friday talking with a woman who has an engineering degree and has passed the bar. Two people met at one of my parties and dated for about a year. She was a librarian with a Master’s degree, and he was the communication manager for a bank chain. Artists. Engineers. Republicans (though not many). Democrats. Pretty, and not so pretty. White collar. Blue collar. (Don’t think I ever had any politicians, police or clergy, but I know other facilitators who did.)

29) alohatraveler says: “You would want to go along with what was happening in the name of being “open” The pressure to be “open” simply doesn’t exist. There’s far more emphasis (and practice) saying “no, thanks.”

30) alohatraveler also says: “I can imagine easily that this is the “coaching” one might receive from the facilitator. ” [referring to, participate if in doubt] Actually, no. The coaching would be to hang out in the kitchen where there’s just talking if a person is feeling any discomfort. Kitchen has food, not so much to feed people, but to provide an excuse to hang there and just talk.

31) alohatraveler says: “boundaries … isn’t this Cuddle Party supposed to help with that?” Yes. CP is about establishing boundaries and honoring them, rather than caving. One of the early activities involves pairing up and discussing the boundaries people have set for themselves before the party (which gets people thinking about and clearly expressing their boundaries). Cuddle Party isn’t about stretching boundaries, but about setting them and feeling empowered to not go further. And being able to say no, powerfully.

32) alohatraveler says: “They are a MAGNET for people who want to be a place with unclear boundaries.” Perhaps. Someone who is looking for unclear boundaries and didn’t read the web site, or read it and thought the rules would be winked at might indeed come to a Cuddle Party. They would quickly find, however, that they had come to the wrong place. Emphasis is on setting and honoring boundaries, not stretching them.

33) LilOrphan says: “there was a point I was so starved for physical, non-sexual touching” I have been dating a woman for almost 2 years who came to my Cuddle Party for just this reason. She was going through a divorce and was starved for touch. We had relatively little communication at the first two parties she attended, but we started an e-mail conversation after the second and found we had a lot in common. The relationship has been exclusive, by the way. I guess my point is that she was looking for exactly what you have described and did find it at her first Cuddle Party, then returned for more of the same.

34) Beverly says: “if a staff member could hold bad behavior from guests in check, this would only delay the exhibiting of that behavior which would then not be in a controlled environment.” True, but is there any way to meet people where this wouldn’t be true? Isn’t it a good idea to at least start in a safe environment, before agreeing to meet somewhere else?


Ok, I got way, way too wordy. But the truth is, I believe in Cuddle Party, and it’s hard for me to read stuff I know isn’t true without commenting.

A Cuddle Party isn’t for everyone, but they can work very well for many people. Thank you for letting me share these thoughts.

— Doug Lippincott

Doug, thank you for your rebuttals to our comments, I still stand by my own not wanting that sort of thing, and I still do not view it as healthy, and especially for a group of people such as is on this blog.

BTW, there are men here, it is that statisticly most people labeled “sociopaths” are male, so there are “more” victims who are female.

I believe anyone can do anything that they want to (consenting adults) but that doesn’t meant it is “good” or “healthy” for them or anyone else, but “different strokes for differnt folks.” as we used to say when I was a kid in the 60s.

This blog is not about cuddle parties, it is about surviving the terrible wounds from dealing with psychopaths.

It is perfectly okay with me for you to believe in “cuddle parties” or any other “pop psychology” you choose. I’ll not try to convince you they are bad or that you are wrong. It is simply a MATTER OF OPINON. You have yours and I have mine, and the other bloggers on here have theirs. I sincerely believe that none of them will change your mind, or that you are likely to change our minds. You have expessed your opinons and we have expressed ours, so as far as I am concerned the discussion is over, we agree to disagree. OK?

OxDrover, thanks for the opportunity to express my viewpoint. It wasn’t my intent to hijack your thread and make it a Cuddle Party discussion, and I apologize for perhaps getting carried away in my response.

I tried to acknowledge that while Cuddle Parties may work well and serve an important purpose for some people, they certainly aren’t for everyone. My goal in writing wasn’t to convince you or alohatraveler or anyone else that they should attend. Rather, I simply wanted to answer some of the (perhaps rhetorical) questions you and others had asked, and to correct what I think was well-intended but nevertheless erroneous information, presented as facts, that had been posted about Cuddle Parties.

And maybe, just maybe, someone who is on the fence might decide to see for themselves, or at least take up my challenge to try to find something negative written by an actual attendee. I can’t imagine anything that would be much better than a regular poster to attend and then write about her personal experience.

You wrote, “I still do not view it as healthy”, and I have no problem with that. That’s a personal viewpoint that allows room for other viewpoints.

And you wrote, “especially for a group of people such as is on this blog”. I am not a therapist, so I can’t speak authoritatively on that, but it’s my belief that some of my guests who had been in abusive situations got much value from their experiences at Cuddle Party. The woman who was finally able to say “no” to a predator and attributed that directly to Cuddle Party is my best example. We can have differing opinions, and I will acknowledge that I know very little about the specific needs of people who have escaped psychopathic relationships.

In return, is it fair to say that someone who knows nothing about Cuddle Parties beyond their name could be making assumptions that have no basis in reality? My time will have been well spent if someone seeing what I wrote does their own research.

And with that, I again think you for the opportunity to share my viewpoint. Yes, you and I can agree to disagree and consider our discussion to be complete. That said, if others ask questions that I can answer, I probably will, and if someone expresses what I believe is an erroneous opinion as an irrefutable fact, I may politely say that’s an opinion that likely wouldn’t be shared by anyone who had actually attended a Cuddle Party, but no more 34-point posts. Fair ‘nuf?

Wow you went to alot of work Doug, re-quoting all of us.
Well, I can agree what works for one, may not work for another. Thats why there are many options out there for people to use as resources.
I guess for me personally, I would not find it comforting, nurturing or therapeutic to have strangers in a room wishing to hug me or cuddle or put their arm around me. Sure, you can say no, but really that is what everyone is intending.
Not that I have a problem being touched but – it just seems empty. Like having sex with someone you just met. Ya, you are having sex, but what relationship, trust, caring and meaning is in that? It would seem cold and unnatural.
But I am glad you are there for those that find purpose in it and thank you for explaining your view.

Also many of us here are hurt, drained, disappointed and emotionally raw from someone who we let into our heart and we became emotionally and physically intimate with. I know you hope to re-introduce people to be open again, but for most I would think it takes more than a strangers hug to help us trust someone with those vulnerable areas again.

I also have a question on the pajamas. If its not a unspoken “sexual” party in any manner, why the pjs? I can imagine one persons version of pj’s is quite different than another’s. Would bet all the gals don’t show up in flannel nightgowns. I wouldnt choose to sit around with a bunch of cleavage and watch everyone enjoy the various modes of nightwear.

findingmyselfagain commented “you went to alot of work Doug”. 🙂 Probably a pretty fine line between what I did and obsessive/compulsive behavior, but thanks for noticing.

“Pajamas” does cover a pretty broad range of attire. What’s still on my website about this is: “Think comfort and ease, rather than sexy and high-fashion. Drawstrings, rather than lace. T-shirts and sweat pants work great too.” In the last 18 months, the “official” dress code has apparently been updated to also add “no shorts.”

In reality, sweats and t-shirts are the most common attire, and if someone arrived in something a little too revealing, I think most hosts would provide something to change into. (We all take extra PJ’s for people who show up in Levi’s or a 3-piece suit with nothing to change into.)

Thank you for saying that while a Cuddle Party probably wouldn’t work for you, that it might be ok for others. I have no problem at all agreeing with that viewpoint.

You also said, “I would think it takes more than a strangers hug to help us trust someone with those vulnerable areas again.” I’m sure that’s true for most people. I think the question is the extent to which Cuddle Party can be helpful. My belief is that, at the worst, they couldn’t hurt, but I acknowledge some readers here might disagree with that viewpoint, especially those who have made assumptions about who attends and what happens that might not be valid.

Thanks again for the opportunity to be heard.

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