Tips for Safe Online Dating

Online dating has become the most popular, and by today’s standards, the most acceptable place to meet potential mates. Over a decade ago, when my friend told me he was meeting women via the internet, I was taken aback. What? People like US using personals? Online personals??

Well, after 13 years of connecting with people romantically online, I’m happy to share that one date became my long-term partner of 8 years and another remains my long-distance love and best friend. Online dating sites are truly my favorite places to meet people.

Although I see online dating as my secure little nest, where I hunker down under my covers late at night or window shop through profiles while I drink my morning coffee, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been taught some upsetting lessons. I’m not talking about the lessons of expectation versus reality (the new date who never calls you back). I’m talking about the street-saavy life skill lessons that everyone should employ.

In the past, I’ve walked into dates with arms open, heart on my sleeve, and soul filled with the utmost excitement – ready to meet and get to know everything about the new person who sits in front of me. Unfortunately, I’ve mistakenly ignored my instincts. Without a couple of key “do’s and don’ts” in my repertoire, I had to learn the hard way. And I’m not the only one. I know many people (who’ve gone on first dates after meeting either online or at a bar) who should have exercised a bit more caution.

It all starts innocently enough… you get talking, either briefly on the phone or through email, and maybe send a few pics back and forth. After such a short exchange, without judgement, you feel you can trust this person who you’ve never met. Or worse, you base this new found trust on just a few text messages.

Now, don’t let me scare you off online dating. There are practices to keep you safe while still having a good time. I could have avoided my unfortunate situations if I had known about these tips beforehand. If you’re new to online dating, think of yourself as a puppy going out for its first walk on a busy city street.

Online Dating Do’s Don’ts

  • Don’t meet anyone you haven’t talked to first.
  • Do have a voice-to-voice conversation before you meet face-to-face.
  • Don’t give out your full first and last name.
  • Do give your first or second name or a pseudonym until you feel comfortable.
  • Don’t give out your home number, or your full name and address can be found.
  • Do give an untraceable number, cell, or Google number which is free and untraceable.
  • Don’t meet for the first time at either your house or theirs.
  • Do meet in a frequented public place.
  • Don’t have more than one alcoholic drink.
  • Do go for coffee, tea, or milkshakes.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended.
  • Do listen attentively for any red flags.
  • Don’t let a first date walk you to your car (to keep licence plate unknown).
  • Do tell your friends that you’re going out on a date and call when you get home.

The last thing I want to stress is: Listen. To. Your. Instincts. Even if it’s just a small teeny tiny feeling that something just doesn’t jive. Go with it. We have instincts for a reason, and they’re almost always right. Okay, I hope I haven’t freaked you out completely because online dating can and is great fun!

Any online dating tips you can add for beginners?

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