Anyone who has heard of the Internet, whether or not they have used an Internet dating service, is well aware of some of the dangers that dating via the World Wide Web can entail. The fact is, if Internet dating can be a more rewarding experience than dating in the “real world”, you may even be more isolated from a negative Internet experience than a face-to-face situation.
The internet offers several screening experiences that are simply not possible in a face-to-face appointment, and using these opportunities to your advantage can lead to a very successful online dating experience.
To stay safe on the online dating site, start your experience with every possible date with caution. I recommend a gradual lifting process. Start your search by using a screen name that others will refer to when they want to contact you. Moving on to names isn’t too big a step, but giving your last name certainly is – don’t do it until you’ve spent a reasonable amount of time talking to the other person and have an idea of what kind of person they are. Set up a separate email account to communicate with possible dates and never provide personal information in first communications. If you feel that the other person is pressuring you to get this information, be prepared to break the communication (if they are already pushing you into something like this, chances are you will face more pressure if you establish a relationship anyway).
Pay close attention to what the other person is saying and be sure to record any comments they make that are suspicious or contradictory as you speak. Don’t rush into anything, you don’t have to meet up until you’re both comfortable. During the chat, both of you will need to establish a direct and frank relationship with each other, in order to establish the trust necessary for a face-to-face meeting (this is one of the unique aspects of internet dating: the Trust foundation already exists you’ve actually met before, so if everything seems to work out, you’re several steps ahead of where you would be if you initially met in person).
Some hard evidence is always helpful in establishing some trust and deepening the relationship. Request a photo and get ready to reciprocate. It can be overwhelming to send that photo, but if the goal is to get together eventually, sooner or later they’ll see each other anyway.
Finally, when it’s time to meet, make sure it’s in a highly visible area, with lots of other people around. Don’t be too reserved on a first date, a dinner at a restaurant, a movie at the theater, something with a lot of other people around while you really get to know that person.
Internet dating is gaining popularity and can be a great way to find and build a great relationship. The mantra “there are many weirdos out there” certainly rings true, but the simple fact is that this is true in “real” life as well. Exercising a little extra caution when dating online will ensure you have safe experiences, although, just like in real life, they may not always pay off.