Dating is just one of the many aspects of modern life that has been vastly impacted by the internet. On the one hand, the internet can cut out some of the hassles of both finding and weeding through potential candidates, but it can also open you up to a number of potential dangers as well. In the past, dates were often arranged through a mutual friend or family member – someone who knew the person they were setting you up with. Internet dating has anonymized that process, however, and made it harder to know up front exactly what kind of person you will be meeting. That doesn't mean, however, that online dating has to be any more dangerous than any other kind of dating. Here are 5 safety tips to help keep you safe while dating online.
Make Sure You Are in The Right Place Emotionally To Date
One of the very best things you can do to protect yourself in the world of online dating is to be sure you are actually in a good place to be dating in the first place. Desperation can not only make us do some crazy things, but it can also blind us to some key warning signs. This is kind of like the advice to never visit the grocery store when you are hungry, only far more serious. The more desperate you are, the more vulnerable you make yourself to be taken advantage of. When you approach online dating wisely and from a place of emotional security, then you place yourself in a far better position to experience success rather than more tragedy.
Choose The Right Site(s)
While there are literally hundreds of dating sites to choose from, the top sites generally got to be that way for a reason. Sometimes, the biggest danger might be the site itself. If they don't utilize the highest levels of security protocols, this may place not only your personal information in jeopardy but your actual person. In addition, some of the more reputable sites will have more rigorous screening processes as well as identity verification, which can help weed out some of the scammers.
Patience Is Not Just a Virtue – It Is Critical
While first impressions can be powerful, they can also be dead wrong. Unfortunately, they can also be hard to change. Being patient is important for two reasons. First off, even the best people do and say stupid things, get nervous and fail to make a great first impression. You don't want to cut and run the minute someone does something stupid, immature or set off a single warning bell. Conversely, sociopaths and psychopaths often seem like really great people at first and often make a stellar first impression. Largely because they work so hard at doing just that. Don't put too much stock in first impressions and give yourself time to really get to know how they act, communicate and behave over time.
Listen To Your Instincts and Do Your Research
Before deciding whether to meet someone in person, you probably want to get to know a bit more about them than what they themselves tell you. While “Facebook stalking” can certainly get out of hand and cross a line into the decidedly creepy, it can also be a valuable tool in the online dating world. We can often tell a great deal about a person by their social media profiles. Don't be afraid to ask them for links to their online profiles and take advantage of all the information they have to offer. While an incomplete or sparse profile is not an automatic red flag, it may warrant some further investigation. Even in this day and age not everyone is active on social media and sometimes it may simply mean they have a genuinely active social life that leaves little time for social media.
When You Are Ready To Meet in Person, Take Precautions
There are a number of different precautions you should take before meeting someone you met on the internet in person. Just keep in mind, however, that you want to be careful to take healthy precautions, without treating the individual with suspicion, mistrust and doubt. That can actually sabotage a potential relationship before it ever has a chance to get off the ground. Here are some guidelines to stay safe when meeting.
- Always meet in a public place and arrive separately.
- Make your first meeting a casual one. Coffee or maybe lunch is better than dinner and a group date or double date is even better.
- Set a time limit on your first meeting. If it all goes well, you can always go out again, but it will keep you from having to make excuses or set up elaborate plans to leave early if things don't go well.
- Tell a friend or family member exactly where you are going and give them access to track you on your smartphone.
- Make sure your smartphone is on and fully charged. Having a battery backup is not a bad idea either.
Online dating is not any more risky than any other kind of dating. As with all dating, however, it is important to use your head and not get carried away (too quickly) by your emotions. While some people have certainly had nightmare experiences with online dating, millions of people have also found true connection in the world of online dating.
Jeff E. Brown is a freelance writer, self-taught lifehacking teacher, DIY home improvement specialist, owner of two happy dogs and a barbeque master. He loves learning through experience and writing about all the cool things he has learned since he moved out of a compact apartment into a comfortable house. You can reach him @jeff8rown