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Online Dating Safety
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Online Dating Safety

Just because you are not sitting across from someone in a bar or restaurant where you must have your guard up, you should not let your guard down with online dating. In fact, because you cannot monitor a person’s reactions or looking into the eyes (the window to the soul), you should take extra care regarding safety when considering online dating.

For the most part, online dating offers wonderful opportunities to meet someone special and since you are communicating from the comfort of your own home, there is a level of security. However, because of this laidback approach, too often people will start telling the stranger on the other end of the computer all types of things that could be turned around and used to cause harm. Therefore, while you want to share information to get to know someone, some things should not be shared, at least initially.

  • If the online dating service has a chat room, you should be very careful about the information you share. Far too often, predators will lurk, portraying themselves as other singles trying to make a connection. While you want to have a good time chatting just be careful about the information talked about.

  • Never provide any type of personally identifiable information in your profile, e-mail messages, or chat room conversations. This information would include your name, address, city where you live, phone number, name of the company where you work, organizations that you are associated with, and so on.

  • Be sure you use the communication tools provided by the dating service. For instance, you want a dating service that has e-mail so you do not have to use your own personal e-mail to keep in touch with someone. In fact, many online dating services now offer IM so that too should be used rather than your personal IM account.
  • If you choose to communicate with someone using e-mail outside of the service, at least create a special anonymous account. Some of the better choices include Yahoo and Hotmail, which are free.

  • Do not let anyone pressure you into giving out information that you know you should keep to yourself. Remind yourself that you are in control and are not required to do anything you do not want to do.

  • Start out slow and remember the old cliché, "If it seems too good to be true – it probably is." The key is to watch for inconsistencies or behavioral changes in someone. This would be a clue that something is not what it seems. Always trust your instincts and if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable then move on.

  • When meeting someone online, be sure you use common sense and exercise caution. Although most people will come across as being trustworthy, and most probably are, you need to pay close attention to each conversation. Make sure you do not fall in love prematurely, which can be easy to do with online dating.

  • If the person you are communicating with does not have a photo posted, ask for not one, but two or three current photos. First, this will help validate that the person is the one in the photo and second, it will show you if he or she is trying to hide something. It is not that love should be based on looks alone, but it is important to see if there is a physical attraction. If you get one excuse after another, this should raise a major red flag.

  • Once you have met one or two people that interest you and have spent quite a bit of time chatting, set up a phone call, always using your cell phone. The call itself is important in that it shows you the level of communication and social skills, as well as manners and degree of intelligence. Additionally, by using your cell phone for the conversation, you are not giving out coveted private information that could be traced to find where you live.

  • Finally, never do anything to make you feel uneasy about a situation. For example, if you have decided to meet someone in person, always make sure a friend goes with you but stays out of sight or that a friend or family member knows the person’s name, phone number, where you are going, and what time you will be home. It is then your responsibility not to deviate from your plans and if you do, call your friend or family member advising them of the new plan.