I got a very nice reference from an ex back in my teens. Firstly, it;s horribly insecure to need a good review to prop you up. Not a great vote of confidence in someone's own taste and judgement. I'm pretty comfortable with my friends, and there's a few who are women. Not only would asking be no problem, but I'd be very surprised if they'd have any trouble lying outrageously to anonymous strangers they'll never meet. I've 2 sisters and a mother with flattering, but warped opinions of me, if required. It's something of a cliché, but I've very little confidence in someone else's idea of an ideal match (and those happy couples will keep trying). Protection from creeps is very tricky, and the only sure way is to avoid people completely. Otherwise, I'm afraid it's down to experience. I've found that other people's opinions and gender discrimination are more harm than help if you want to know about someone.