How to Safely and Successfully Date Online
Benefits of Dating Online
- Widens your dating pool beyond your own social circles
- Makes it simple to pinpoint certain criteria you are or are not interested in
- Ease of use
- Safe methods of first contact (email, phone calls)
- Can be done at your convenience, comfort level, and pace
Being Smart About Dating Online
While less than a decade ago meeting a significant other online had a heavy social stigma, those days are largely gone. It's now a trendy and popular way to meet a potential spouse (or just someone to have fun with), and opens up the dating pool across cities and even states. No longer do you have to join a singles group, ask your friends to set you up on a blind date, or sit around at bars on Saturday nights waiting to run across that special someone. With the click of a mouse, you can see hundreds of potential matches and be communicating within minutes.
Dating online still takes work, though--once you make the initial connection and agree to meet, it's not any easier than any other first date! And because people can easily lie about their looks, occupation, and (let's not kid ourselves) homicidal tendencies online, it's even more important to be safe and smart.
Read on for tips on how to safely and successfully date online. (Your source of expertise is someone who met her husband online over four years ago!)
Keeping the Initial Contact with a Potential Match Safe
You may have spent some time browsing on the online dating site you've chosen and picked a few men or women you're interested in contacting, or you may already have been contacted. Either way, keep the initial contact as safe as possible.
- Share any identifying information such as home address, phone number, or even your last name--if your online profiles on Facebook, etc. aren't private, it's easy for someone to find out a lot about you whether you want them to or not.
- Upload any pictures that inadvertently show your home address or license plate.
- Ask to meet right away, or agree to meet right away.
Your trust should only go so far when you're first establishing contact--it's easy to lie online. It's also easy for others to find out a lot about you with just a little information, so limit what you share. If the person is interested, you can find a lot to talk about without sharing your mother's maiden name and social security number (kidding...kind of).
Online Dating Safety Tips
Having a Conversation Before Meeting in Person
While not everyone bothers to talk on the phone with his or her online date before actually meeting in person, it can be an added safeguard. A person can be perfectly eloquent in an email, and say all the right things--because that person has virtually unlimited time to craft that email.
In a one-on-one conversation, it's easier to get comfortable with the other person--and to go with your gut instinct. Maybe you loved the guy's emails, but when you talk on the phone he makes you uneasy; maybe he crosses the line or just generally says off-color things that make you reconsider meeting him.
That doesn't mean the person is dangerous--but it does mean you're not wasting your time with an awkward, bad date, and it's an easy way to be safe rather than sorry.
Arranging the First Date in a Public Location
You'll naturally be excited about your first date--but you'll also need to be smart. Don't set up a date in one of your houses or somewhere private; that's both unsafe and could set an unwanted expectation for how the night will progress.
Pick a public place where you know there will be people around--bowling, dinner, a jazz concert, ice skating. Let a friend or two know where you're going and who you're going with, and agree to set a time to touch base with them at the end of the night. Also consider setting a code safety word with them--if you feel uncomfortable at any time during the date, text them the word so that they know to call you, and you can make your excuses about calling it a night early. (Unless you're fine with saying "You're making me uncomfortable," and leaving--some people are!)
Meet your date there, and drive yourself home.
Feeling Confident About Dating Online
Dating online is a great way to meet potential matches that you'd never meet otherwise! It's really no different than running into a stranger and exchanging numbers at a grocery store than it is to find someone on an internet dating site--and it may even be better, since you go into the date already knowing quite a bit about the other person.
As long as you're smart, dating online very safe and can yield great rewards, including love and finding the one with whom you want to spend your life. So, if you decide to join a site, do so with confidence and optimism--you never know where that step will lead!
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