Safety Rules For Online Dating
" If you have any reason to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, leave. "There are many stories out there about the perils of online dating. Some are urban legends, and some are alarmist or driven by contempt. Others ring true because we hear them from friends or read them on Salon's Match Made in Hell. The truth of the matter is that yes, there are creeps out there who prey on people that reveal personal information on the internet. It is also true that there are basic precautions you can take to keep them at bay. In the world of online dating, as in the rest of your life, common sense is essential. You can narrow your pool of potential partners greatly by avoiding online dating altogether. However, for the most part, the people you meet online are normal, like you or me. Follow these strategies to date online safely:
This is basic, but it is easy to let things slip in your initial excitement when someone contacts you. First, only use dating services that do not disclose personal information. Second, don't reveal identifying information about your neighborhood, apartment building, or workplace. Third, if you have children, do not name them or their school. Anyone who pushes you to divulge personal details before you are ready, or who does not reciprocate the gesture, is suspect.
Talk on the phone
A person’s voice and the subjects they choose to talk about can give you many clues about their personality. In addition, most of us have radar that picks up “something not quite right,” even on the phone. Talking is a key step in getting a sense of a person before you meet them.
Run a background check
Once you have exchanged basic personal information, feel absolutely no guilt about checking them out. This is completely legitimate and appropriate. Many online agencies offer reliable background checks at an affordable price.
You make the rules. Ensure that you stick to them and enforce them. Do not allow yourself to be bullied, bribed, or emotionally blackmailed into doing anything you don't want.
Look for warning signs
Before you meet an online date, and after, keep your eyes, ears, and intuition open for things that might signal dishonesty, substance abuse, or a disturbed personality. For example:
- Is the person consistent? If their back-story or details of their everyday life change or don't match up, something is likely wrong. The same is true if they are evasive.
- Does the person's mood change rapidly? Sudden huffs, hissy fits, moodiness, wild excitement, possessiveness, etc. may not just come from their nervousness around you. Mood swings could potentially be symptoms of psychological disturbance or substance abuse.
- Does the person refuse to meet or even chat on the phone, and only wants to stick to online communication? They are most likely not what they say.
- After you meet, does the person never show you photographs, mention the past, or introduce you to friends or family? Do they seem to have no social support system? Chances are they could be hiding something from you, or worse.
- Does the person suddenly know more about you than you told them or than they could find from a background check? Cross out potential stalkers.
- Shyness and false advertising about weight, age, and hair aside, is the person nothing at all like they are online? There could be many reasons they misled you, from the annoying to the unsavory.
Meet in a public place
It is not a good idea to go hiking on a secluded trail or rafting down a river on the first date. The same goes for relying on the other person for transportation. Instead, meet at a restaurant, coffee shop, or mall some distance away from your home. Carry your cell phone and keep it on at all times. Make sure that a friend, colleague, or family member knows who you are going to meet and where. If going to another town or city to meet the date, make your own arrangements and do not share the details or logistics with them. At your meeting, if you have any reason to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, leave. Keep your wits about you; indulging in alcohol and drugs is not a good idea before, during, or while leaving a date.
Go with your instincts
Usually, everything checks out and the person you meet is normal. If your gut tells you otherwise, trust your intuitive judgment.