Dating online and then meeting dates in real life can open up new relationship possibilities. Some people like the relative ease of getting to know people on the Internet because they can find people who share more of their interests than they would off the Internet. It’s still a type of dating that needs to be treated with caution, especially since you don’t have some of the normal safeguards that you would in “real life” or “meatspace” encounters. It’s wise to observe some online dating safety tips to protect yourself.
A few online dating safety tips or bits of knowledge you should probably commit to memory are the following:
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- People may not send you accurate pictures of themselves.
People may not represent themselves truthfully (marital status, employment status, appearance, etc).
You are less likely to have trouble if you use an online dating service that performs criminal background checks.
There are other online dating safety tips to bear in mind. One is you should give little information about yourself when you first meet someone online. You can decide whether or not you want to pick a name that is gender-specific, but unless you want a lot of sexual attention, avoid names that are sexually based or inappropriate. When you’re getting to know people, don’t disclose nonessential details like where you live, your last name, where you work or your phone number. If you want to chat with someone, you can give a first name and a general idea of where you live, like what state or region you live in.
One of the most important of online dating safety tips is to take things slowly when you meet a new person online. Enjoy getting to converse with them in print and be wary of things that seem like inconsistencies in other people’s statements. Once you’ve had a reasonable amount of time, perhaps a month or two at the least, to get to know someone, you can determine whether you want to take the relationship to an offline one.
Another of the online dating safety tips is to start by getting the person’s phone number that you’d like to meet offline. If you want to give out your phone number, consider giving out a cellphone number only. Home phone numbers can be searched using reverse directories to determine your location, and you can’t be certain that a person you’ve met online is being honest or has your best interests at heart. In fact, you should probably have a high level of distrust until proven otherwise by the person you are meeting. When you make your first call, block your number so it can’t be read by the person you’re calling, or call from a payphone or cellphone.
Again, take a phone relationship slow, and use it to verify things about the person. Keep looking for inconsistencies and discontinue the relationship if you find them, or if you feel any red flags or sense any problems. Eventually the online relationship may progress to people wanting to meet and you should observe caution here too.
Plan to meet in a public place and you might want to bring one or more people with you. If you go alone, be certain someone else knows where you will be and exactly how long you will be gone. Carry a cellphone and do not plan to go anywhere nonpublic on a first or second meeting. If the person turns out to have been deceptive, leave quickly, and if you fear for your safety, call the police.
Online dating can complicate first meetings with people, but if you stick to a few online dating safety tips, you can make this process safer. There are plenty of people who are wonderful folks and just find online dating more convenient. However, the few bad apples that have bad intentions need to always be considered and you should take steps to make sure that you minimize potential contact with these people.