Dating Safety Tips
Be a Skeptic
Here's a place where the old adage "Don't believe everything you
read" most definitely applies. People lie online just as they do
in real life. Areas to be particularly cautious about: Marital status
and physical appearance. "Look at your own past experiences in meeting
people," suggests Sharyn Wolf, author of Guerrilla Dating Tactics:
Strategies, Tips and Secrets for Finding Romance (Plume/Penguin).
"Have you generally had good judgment about people? If so, then
you can rely on it here too. If not, proceed with caution, and perhaps
turn to a friend to help you evaluate someone you've met online."
Use Tools Wisely
Some online personals sites allow you to send and receive email
without using your real address. Take advantage of this option if
you can. Then use email to get a sense of a person before you further
the relationship. "Begin to (anonymously) email back and forth,
and learn about the context this person operates in," suggests Wolf.
"Where did he grow up? Where does she work? Who are his friends
and family? How is she connected to the community in which she lives?"
Learning about a person's connections with others is an important
way to find out who they really are.
Ring My Bell
The phone reveals a lot about a person's social skills, and their
ability to communicate spontaneously. But do it on your nickel;
don't rush to give a stranger your phone number. Now that you're
voice-to-voice, if not yet face-to-face, give yourself the opportunity
to get a good feeling for what someone is like before you decide
you'd like to meet. Better yet, video conference them through free
online services such as Skype.
Resist the Hard Sell
If you are getting pressured to get together, that's probably a
good sign that this is a person you want to steer clear of. Also,
continue to keep your antennae up. If, as you are getting to know
each other, anything seems off, bow out gracefully.
Separate Fantasy From Reality
If email has a downside, it's that it allows you to build up a
false sense of intimacy with someone. "A person who writes great
email is not necessarily a great person," points out Laura Banks,
author of Love online (Career Press). No matter how wonderful your
email correspondent may seem, try to keep some distance the minute
you hear his or her voice, or meet in person, the whole thing may
seem wrong. Don't allow your hopes about this person to obscure
what you really feel.
Use Common Sense
When it is time to meet in the real world, use these hard and fast
rules: Don't give out your home or office address; meet in a busy
public place during daylight hours; use your own transportation
to and from the date; tell a friend where and when you are going;
and check in when you get back. There'll be plenty of time for moonlight
walks later on!
see our article on dating and romance
scams on the Internet.