Most people I talk to are fascinated by the concept of online dating. I get questions upon questions about what it’s like, is it fun, is it frustrating, can you really meet someone this way. The answer to all of these questions is “yes”. The other question I often hear is, “Is it really safe to meet strangers from the internet?” The answer to this one is – it’s up to you to make it as safe as you possibly can.
There are some basic safety guidelines for meeting dates from online sites. Online Dating Magazine has an excellent article about online dating safety tips that’s a must read if you’re starting out in the online dating arena and even if your an old pro. The internet sometimes gives us a false sense of security as we type away, sending emails to perfect strangers. It’s easy to forget that you really don’t know the person at the other end of that electronic connection. Even those of us who’ve been meeting people online for awhile can tend to forget that as we start communicating with new people.
The points in Online Dating Mag’s article are good ones and easy to keep in mind. First and foremost is to trust your instinct…listen to that little voice in your head that’s setting off an alarm bell or two. Realistically, most people on the dating sites are not crazy axe murderers but the sad statistic is that up to 30% of people dating online are married and you do find your share of folks who are in need of serious therapy. You can usually pick these unsavory types out pretty quickly if you trust your instincts.
Keeping a separate email for online dating is also a good idea, as well as not giving out your home phone number until you’ve met and gotten to know one another well. I’m in the habit of storing online match’s numbers in their own folder on my cell phone – when they call their name pops up on the phone so I know exactly who is calling.
The rest of the tips are basically common sense points such as not giving away too much information about yourself upfront. This of course can be hard to do when you feel a connection to someone you just started emailing with. It helps to keep in mind that, if this person is “the one” and the emails lead to a long-term relationship, then you’ll have months and years even to share all the details of your life.
It’s also wise to meet for the first time in a well-lit public place – basically a good old-fashioned rule of personal safety. I’d add that you should make sure that your car is also parked in a well-lit, well-traveled area.
Yes, there are wonderful, sincere people dating online…I’ve met many of them – they’re there. The key is to be smart and safe as you’re out there searching for them.
How do you stay safe online? I’d love to hear your tips.