For those in the dating world, the internet can no longer be ignored. What once held stigma is now the new normal. The internet is a wonderful and convenient way to meet someone.
As with any new trend, though, there are new things to think about. Know the potential safety pitfalls and how to minimize the risks that may be associated with internet dating.
Never Give Your Personal Email
Many dating sites have their own mail system. Use it. Until you really know someone, giving your email address is a bad idea. The way everything connects on the internet makes it very easy for someone to find you, and not all have good intentions.
Doing a search of your email address could lead a stranger to your Facebook page, or anywhere else. Sending someone an email generally gives them your full name and makes you easily searchable.
If you must message each other apart from the dating website, create a new, anonymous email with no links to the rest of your life.
Don’t Be “Friends”
When you are just getting to know someone, it’s best to remember not to give “too much, too soon.” Not only is adding a new potential date to your list of Facebook friends potentially awkward, it is also potentially dangerous.
Adding someone to your Facebook page can give them access to your habits, your location, your friends and family. If your new love interest has sinister motives, they could use the information to stalk and intimidate you.
No Personal Info
There isn’t one good reason for someone you’ve never met to have your full name, address, phone number, or any other personal, identifying info. It’s unlikely, but if this person turns out to be a stalker, do you really want this information in his hands?
Don’t Accept Everything at Face Value
Ask questions and get to know your internet match, but don’t accept every answer as the truth. Keep it in the back of your mind as potential fact, waiting to be verified upon getting to know the person better.
Use Separate Photos
Now that searching a photo online is as easy as searching for personal info, use different photos on your dating profile than you use on social media, etc.
And don’t underestimate someone’s ability to actually do this. If he can figure out how to meet women online, he can figure out how to search your photo.
Google Him Up and Down
No, not with your eyes. Use Google to search for this new love interest online. Find out everything you can to make sure he is safe.
It may seem hypocritical when you are actively trying to keep him from doing the same, but a girl’s got to protect herself.
When You Finally Meet
When you have finally gotten to the point where you will meet and go on the long-awaited date, use precautions. Meet in a public place and never accept a ride home or an invite to his house.
And always give all information about your date to a trusted friend when you are meeting with someone you have never met in person before.
Always trust your gut. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself or your date. If you arrive and something feels wrong, make an excuse and leave. Or leave without an excuse. It’s your life, and your right to be safe.