How to Stay Safe While Online DatingAccording to Statistics Brain (2014), approximately 41,000,000 people have tried online dating at one point in time. So, if you decide to partake in this form of dating, you are definitely not alone. In fact, you are probably lonely, bored, and frustrated, which is why you are seriously considering online dating. You just do not have the time or energy to thrust yourself into the traditional “dating scene.” So, online dating is starting to look better and better. Dating, in any situation, is both exciting and terrifying. A good way to get your toes wet in the dating arena is by trying online dating.

This is an especially good option, if you are shy, socially awkward, introverted, and/or self-conscious. Why? Well, it will help you open up and develop your social skills in the comfort of your home. And, once you allow yourself to relax, you may even find the partner of your dreams. Online dating may seem daunting because you do not actually get to physically see your potential love interest, but it is a good way to learn about each other without focusing too much on appearances. If you are wondering about online dating safety, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to protect yourself, if you choose to partake in this form of dating.

Listed below are safety tips that you should be aware of, if you are planning to participate online dating:

• Ask Lots of Questions

The first thing you want to do when you join an online dating site and you are zeroing in on a possible “perfect match” is to thoroughly read the person’s online profile. Do not get too caught up with his or her picture because it may not be that person’s picture or the picture may be old. Rather, pay attention to what the person likes, dislikes, and prefers. Once you have made online contact with that person – ask a lot of questions. Do not be shy, especially if you think you may have a lot in common.

It is important that you learn as much as you can about the person before agreeing to go on a date. Fortunately, the more you converse with your potential mate, the more you will learn about him or her. But, beware that your love interest may lie and/or refrain from telling you the whole truth. Still, you will get an idea of the type of humor he or she has, and you may even get a glimpse of his or her true nature. The information you receive will help you determine if you want to pursue a relationship with that person. Keep an open mind and do not be pushy.

• Be Extra Cautious

It is extremely important that you be extra cautious. Be aware of red flags – things that just do not seem “right.” Do not shrug those feelings off. Why? Well, because they are trying to tell you something. Do not divulge personal information (i.e. complete name, work location, telephone numbers, school location, or address) too soon. It is important to remember that Internet predators do exist, and they do not have your best interest at heart. Moreover, do not give anyone your passwords. Why? Well, your passwords can be used to access your personal information. Lastly, once you decide you are ready to meet in person – do it in a public place and tell a friend where you are going and who you are going with. Do not accept a ride home on the first, second, or even third date.

• Be Aware of Fake Profiles

You can stay safe while online dating if you are aware of fake profiles. Yes, there are tons of fake profiles on online dating sites and social media sites (i.e. eHarmony.com, Plenty of Fish (POF), Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, and Match.com). Some people (i.e. predators) use fake profiles to attract potential victims, so it is crucial that you be extra cautious when selecting possible mates from the Internet. If you think about it, a person can steal a picture from another website and use it as his or her profile picture. In a sense, you can be anyone on the Internet.

Moreover, most online dating sites do not verify the information provided on the profiles. The ones that do verify information only validate basic information (i.e. address and name). As a result, a person can falsify information (i.e. job description, income level, relationship status and/or physical appearance) without your knowledge. Although most people on online dating sites are truthful about themselves, be extra cautious when considering potential mates.

• Take Your Time

Stay safe while online dating by taking your time. Don’t rush to please a potential mate. If a person pressures you to meet him or her in person, then he or she may not be the best partner for you. If that person really respects and cares for you, he or she will wait until you feel comfortable meeting him or her.

• Trust Your Instincts

Trust your instincts. After you have been conversing online for a while, you will eventually want to meet in person. That is normal. The key is to trust your instincts before exchanging personal information like: complete names, telephone numbers and addresses. In other words, if something feels “off” do not give that person your personal information. Pay attention to your potential mate’s voice tone, the words he or she uses, communication style, and attitude. Do not push aside things that do not make sense. If your love interest is secretive about his or her appearance, name, address, and/or other personal information, then he or she is probably hiding something important.

• Request a Background Check

Stay safe while online dating by requesting a background check on a potential mate that you contacted online. If you are unable to do a background check, research the person by typing his or her name in the Google search box on the Internet. Collect all the information you can on him or her before committing to a date. If the person has been arrested or convicted of a violent crime, or if he or she is married – decline the invitation, and resume your online dating search.

• Stay Sober

Once you start going on dates, it is important to stay sober at all times. You don’t really know the person you met online during the initial dates, so to protect yourself from harm, it is important that you stay alert when you are with him or her. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with your self-control and perception. It can also cause you to make careless and/or impulsive decisions. It is easy to say “yes” when you are intoxicated or “high,” when under different circumstances, you would say “NO.” Don’t do something you regret, and end up asking yourself the next morning, “What happened?”

Staff Writer:
Dr. R. Y. Langham

References:
Assimos, J. (2014). Online dating safety tips every woman should know. eHarmony. Retrieved from http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2013/02/21/online-dating-safety-tips-every-woman-should-know/#.VNT_xZDnaUk
Statistics Brain. (2014). Online dating statistics. Retrieved from http://www.statisticbrain.com/online-dating-statistics/
Grohol, J. M. (2003). Tips for safe online dating. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/online_dating/safety.html
McMullen, L. (2013). Tips for safe and healthy online dating. U.S. News Health. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2013/02/13/tips-for-safe-and-healthy-online-dating