Technology has made life so easy that searching for a date can be as simple as turning on your computer. But just like you protect your computer so too should you protect yourself when dating online. If you are not careful, you could end up with your heart broken or something far, far worse. In any dating situation you should protect yourself, but online dating opens up more of the world to you, exposing you to a wider group of people. The more people that you meet, the bigger the odds that you will run into a bad apple or two in the barrel. You simply can not go off uninformed. It's a big, bad world out there and the Internet brings it right into your own home. Here are a few tips to ensure that you are safe dating online.
1. At the risk of stating the obvious, know who you are talking to. Do they respond to your questions? Do they seem "too good to be true"? Are their stories believable? Do they avoid certain questions, such as marital status, etc? These are some of the red flags that should make you watchful.
Having an online chat with someone you met on a website or chat room is one thing. Meeting this person in real life is a whole different world. You're moving from cyber space into real life – and that's a big step. Even if you feel that this person is "the one", you should still proceed with caution.
2. Never give a stranger your full name or your home address. Never give them information about where you work or any financial information. If you are going to exchange phone numbers then only give your cell number, that's enough. Set up an alternative email address for corresponding with people you meet online. If things go wrong, you can always close it and register a new one.
3. Before meeting your date face-to-face, speak to him or her on the phone first (cell phone only, remember). Listen to how they sound on the phone. Are they aggressive, controlling, do they sound angry? Do you feel comfortable talking to this person? You do, great. If there are any, and I mean ANY warning signs, then do not agree to meet them in person. Google them. This is not as "stalker-esque" as it seems. If prospective employers can Google candidates then what's stopping you from learning a bit more about your date?
4. For your first date, choose a public place. Always meet somewhere that you will be comfortable. A warning sign is if they want to meet in an isolated venue. If possible, set up a time limit for the date. A "coffee date" is a safe option. Never go to unfamiliar places and do not be afraid to choose the venue for your date. Do not get into a car with a stranger – well someone that you've met in person for the first time.
5. Ensure that at least one friend or family member knows where you are going. Give them as much information about your date as possible. When you're out, tell your date that you need to touch base with your friends to let them know that you're ok. A decent human being will understand and if not, end the date and walk away.
6) Trust your intuition. If something feels wide off the mark about a situation, or you do not feel at ease meeting your date at a particular location, call off the meeting or arrange it at a place you do feel comfortable at. Any form of dating, whether it's by means of the Internet or not, should always be an enjoyable and safe experience.
The last tip for you is have fun! This is what it's about. Sometimes you find what you've been looking for and sometimes you do not. Sometimes you're not what they were looking for. You must persevere and eventually you will meet that someone. Every date is a learning experience, no matter what happens. You may be one of those smiling people who found their soul mate through an online dating site.