Digital dating safely

If you are online searching for that authentic relationship and intimate connection, it is important to know not every person in the online world is well-intentioned.

The good news is, as in real life, these unstable individuals are a small minority of the online population. However, they do exist, and if you’re going to date or hook up in real life with someone you’ve met in the digital universe, you need to be smart safe and self-aware of some basic safety measures. Its important to trust yourself and not feel swayed or pressured to go against yourself. The truth is you really don’t know this person, always back yourself. Know when you are being manipulated and remove yourself from any situation before it could possibly escalate into something bigger. Report any incident to the dating site.

If you are considering on-line dating here are some key guidelines to help your experience is a positive, safe and successful one.

1. Be honest about your profile and photo. You don’t want to lie about your age, your background or your personality. You don’t want to start or end a relationship with a lie. At some point others will know that you are not who you say you are (or you don’t look like your photo).

2. Protect your identity. Do not give your personal information out to a stranger over the telephone or over the Internet? It is best to use your first name only during initial conversations and provide more detailed personal information only after you’ve met in person and have got to know one another. Cracks usually appear within the first few weeks, so take your time in getting to know your new connection. Legitimate online daters will understand the reasons for doing this and hopefully will be doing the same themselves. Also, when you decide to give someone your phone number online, use your mobile instead of your home or work phone. If things don’t happen to work out, mobile numbers are easier to change.

3. Never provide your last name, address, or other personal or financial information to a person you have not met. Never ever under any circumstances, give money to someone you don’t know well and have not met in person. This applies to anyone you meet online, regardless of whether it is within the confines of an Internet dating or other site. Beware of any potential partner who asks you directly for cash, or to cash a money order or check or pay in to an online bank account. They may give you a heart wrenching story, regardless how bad the situation seems, do not under any circumstances give any financial assistance or buy any items or products. You simply cannot help them. This will also show you if you are connected for the right reasons. They will move you on very quickly if they know they cannot scam you.

4. If someone has an unusual request or asks for explicit photos do not under any circumstances agree as it can be used as blackmail. Pay your own way. If the other person wants money or gifts from you, or wants to shower you with money or gifts, walk away. The person does not care about you or love you. Sex or love in exchange for money/gifts is not romance, it’s prostitution. If you are unsure about a person’s sincerity, ask a trusted friend or family member what they think before you move forward.

5. Trust your instincts. This is the most important safety tip of all. If a situation doesn’t feel right to you for any reason at all, get out. You are under no obligation to continue a date. Ever. Maybe the issue is something innocent but it may not be. Either way, if the situation feels uncomfortable, then the other person is not what you’re looking for.

6. Meet in a public place. Even if your goal is a quick hookup, your first meeting should take place at a coffee shop, museum, café, or some other public venue. This gives you time to get to know a person at least a little bit, so you can identify obvious red flags before agreeing to meet in a more private setting.

7. Tell your friends or family what you’re doing. Make sure at least one friend or family member knows who you are meeting, where, and when. Arrange to check in with that person at least once during your date. You might even want to have some friends hanging out wherever it is you’ve decided to meet, discreetly keeping an eye on things from across the room.

8. If things just seem uneasy or just too hard and you’re feeling uncomfortable for any reason. Let them know there has been an emergency and you must leave. No explanations are needed. Block the number.

9. Take your time getting to know someone on-line. Relationships seem to develop faster online. Before you meet in person, move the conversation from online to phone. During a phone chat you’ll get a better sense of whether you have things in common and your personalities connect. Also, by taking it slow, you are more likely to see any inconsistencies in their behaviours and actions.

10. Always Listen to your gut. Online dating is a great way to find people with common interests; however, building a relationship takes time and attention. Look for consistency in behaviours and answers to your questions. Pay attention to early warning signs that someone might not be legitimate or might not be presenting themselves honestly. For example, do they want to know all about you, but seem disinterested or vague in sharing details of their life? Is the telephone number they provide out of service, or is it unable to accept messages for days? Does he or she profess love or devotion within a matter of hours or days? Are they never able to meet you in person, full of excuses and avoidances?

The vast majority of people you find online are sincere in their desire to meet a long-term partner. Provided you take some simple steps to protect yourself, Online dating can be a wonderful way to meet someone special with whom to share your life. Taking the time to do it well and protect yourself is a matter of common sense and the best way to ensure that your online dating experience is safe and successful.