Some Tips for Dating Safely

While a lot of people will just use the Online dating sites as a bit of fun and a great way of meeting people online, quite a few will actually end up meeting somebody in real life. As you learned when you were little, the stranger-danger signs are still applicable, even though you are older and you have had online contact for a while.

Here’s some advice that everyone should use when meeting new people. But it is specifically applicable to meeting after online contact, as the misconception of thinking you know a person can lead to danger.

Click on each tip to jump to it or scroll through the whole page to read them all!

1 Take it slow
2 Guard your anonymity
3 Trust your common sense to know what’s best for you
4 Ask for a picture
5 Have telephone contact before meeting
6 Only meet when you are ready to do so
7 Select a safe environment for your first meeting
8 Look out for telltale bad signs
9 Getting yourself out of a sticky situation

1 Take it slow

Establish a good email contact before you meet up. Try to find out as much as you can about the other person, so that you already will have a fair idea of what you can expect. Especially things like age and size should match when you eventually meet. If obvious things like that have been lied about, who knows what lies behind the surface?

Ask them about their likes, dislikes and favourite things. A good online dating site will already have given you the opportunity to leave a profile, but if they have ticked ‘comedies’ in the favourite movie section, ask for example what kind of comedies they like. This will give you a better idea of your compatibility.

Look out for people who seem too good to be true. If they match everything with what you’re saying, they might either be somebody with no own opinion whatsoever or somebody who wants to lure you into false assumptions.

If anything they say makes you feel uncomfortable, terminate the contact. If an email already has the ability to offend or annoy you, would you want to experience that in real life?

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2 Guard your anonymity

A lot of online dating sites offer a ‘double blank’ email service, which enables you to exchange the details you, want to exchange. If the site you’re using doesn’t have this facility, set up a separate email account with a nickname.

Never include your last name, real email address, personal website address, home address, phone number, place of work, or any other identifying information in your profile or initial emails you exchange with other members. Make sure your email signature file is turned off, or does not include identifying information, when corresponding with somebody via your own email.

Nobody has the right to pressure you for this kind of information, as they won’t need it to have a good online contact with you. So if you do feel pressurised by somebody, stop communicating with this person. Other people might try and con you into giving them your personal details. Be on your guard do not supply any.

As it’s your life, you can take as long as you need to become acquainted with this person on the Net. Ask questions and make sure you are satisfied with the answers.

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3 Trust your common sense to know what’s best for you

You are responsible for your life on- and offline. Whether you decide to correspond with members online or meet members offline, please use sound judgment and pay careful attention along the way. If your instinct tells you that they are not honest, you’re possibly right. Move on and try to find someone you will be able to trust.

Don’t fall head over heels in love the minute someone emails you back. It will cloud your judgment and makes you do reckless things. Remember that you don’t know this person yet.

If you are religious and have made contact with a like-minded person, don’t assume that this person is to be trusted completely. Always be on your guard when out on a date with someone you don’t know or barely know.

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4 Ask for a picture

As first impressions are so important, a good picture will tell you a lot about the person you are in contact with. And it will give you an immediate idea of whether the person has told the truth in his profile! Some online dating sites will even give you the opportunity to include several pictures.

If he or she continuously comes up with an excuse, it may be because that person has something to hide. Some online dating sites even offer to scan the pictures in for you, so it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

In order to get the best response, you should add a picture to your own profile. A picture gives you four times as many responses as no picture at all.

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5 Have telephone contact before meeting

If you can chat in a relaxed and confident manner to the person on the other side of the line it will give you the best indication that you will get on in real life. It reveals so much more about the person’s communication skills then chatting or emailing over the Net.

A good online dating service can be the intermediate if you don’t want to give out your telephone number to someone. Other ways of getting around giving someone your phone number is to call from a payphone, or by dialing 141 before you call. This prevents the receiver to get to know your number. This function normally works on mobile phones as well. Check with your provider.

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6 Only meet when you are ready to do so

Using the Internet is a great way of meeting people and you can stay anonymous for as long as you like. But if you do decide to meet a few things are to be considered.

First of all, nobody can force you to meet up with them. If they do, be very aware as their motives might not be quite what they like. Go with your gut instincts, even when they can’t be logically explained.

It’s possible that your decision to keep the relationship at the anonymous level is based on a hunch that you can’t logically explain. Trust yourself. Never meet someone who argues against your instincts, finds logical flaws with your feelings or pressures you in any way. Information like your home address, place of work and so on are best kept to yourself until you feel absolutely secure about sharing them.

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7 Select a safe environment for your first meeting

Meeting for the first time with someone can be a daunting prospect on its own, but if you don’t feel comfortable about the place you meet, you will be sure you won’t be relaxed enough for the meeting to go well.

Best places to meet are busy coffee shops in the centre of town, preferably during daytime. Don’t meet in a quiet park or in a remote area. Meet in a public place or in that coffee shop, but don’t agree to be picked up from home. Travel there on your own accord and don’t accept lifts home, but take a taxi if necessary. If you decide to move to another location, take your own car. Do not agree to go back to this person’s home for coffee either.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Leave them your date’s name and telephone number. You might even consider arranging a time to call and check in. Or you could arrange to meet up with friends later that night.

Always share the bill. That way you will not feel obliged to arrange another date just to return the favour. And keep your alcohol intake to a reasonable minimum, as it will cloud your judgment. If the meeting is not going well and you are feeling uncomfortable make your excuses and leave politely.

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8 Look out for telltale bad signs

Most people will know instinctively when a person is suitable and good to be with or not. But there are some obvious indications to look out for.

If someone refuses to speak to you on the phone after establishing ongoing, online intimacy, you do have to ask yourself if you have made contact with the right person. If you were looking for meeting up in real life and this person doesn’t, it will be best to turn your focus elsewhere to try and find what you really want.

If someone makes disrespectful remarks in general, on your appearance or towards other people, it is time to make a move. You don’t need to listen to it and you are perfectly in your own right to leave.

Look out for sudden mood swings, frustrations or anger. If someone can’t behave himself on a first date, it is impossible to say what the future will hold.

Listen to what they are saying. If they are providing inconsistent information about themselves or if they look completely different than the picture provided on the Net, then this might be an indication of persistent lying. If somebody refuses to answer straightforward questions then that might indicate danger.

If after a while you get to know each other better and meet up on several occasions, a bond of trust should start to develop and you can decide to introduce your friends to this new contact. If this person is not keen on you seeing his friends or relatives, ask yourself whether it is a geniune relationship.

If you have to travel from far, you might need to spend the night in a hotel. Do not disclose the name of your hotel and never allow your date to make the arrangements for you.

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9 Getting yourself out of a sticky situation

If you really don’t feel comfortable with the person opposite you, you can leave at any time you want. Never do anything you feel unsure about. If you are in any way afraid of your date, use your best judgment to diffuse the situation and get out of there. Excuse yourself long enough to call a friend for advice, ask someone else on the scene for help, or slip out the back door and drive away.

If you feel you are in real danger call the police. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Never worry or feel embarrassed about your behaviour. Your safety is much more important than one person’s opinion of you. Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. And if you haven’t met him before and you know at the beginning of the date you aren’t interested, leave immediately.

Meeting people online is the same as meeting people everywhere. You don’t tell people everything on the first date, even if you know them vaguely from a pub. Don’t do this with people you know vaguely from a website either. Only you will know when to take things further and when to let them into your life. And both of you have to feel comfortable and in agreement about that. Regardless of where, or how, you meet someone, dating is never a risk-free activity, but a little clever thinking can safe you a lot of wasted effort and pain.