Let’s face it, meeting someone in person that you “met” on the internet can be dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Sure, there are matches that end in “happily ever after” but the reality is that you are placing yourself at risk and want to minimize that risk as much as possible if you engage in internet dating.
Although not foolproof, our 5 internet dating safety tips coupled with a clear, cautious mind can help you to remain safe when seeking your prince or princess on the internet.
Create a realistic profile but do not include too much information.
A realistic profile includes if you are male or female, your age, whether your are married or divorced, whether or not you have children or want to have children, your religion and if you smoke, drink or use drugs. This can help to weed out people that simply do not share or value qualities that are important to you or are simply not interested in your lifestyle and visa-versa.
Be cautious if you include your city and state. Although this information is helpful, depending on your profile, it can also place you at risk since unwanted people can track your down. If you live in a small town, you may want to only disclose what state you are from.
You will also need a title and a descriptive paragraph that sums up who you are and what you are looking for in a partner. Are you looking to get married and have a family or simply looking to date? Is it important that your “match” works? Are you only interested in a partner with certain looks? If so, you should note it.
It’s a good idea to put some thought into your descriptive paragraph and save it on your computer since you can update it as needed and, as a bonus, you can use it on other sites.
If you are looking for a serious relationship, for example, a title of “Red Hot Mama wants to have fun” might not be a good choice.
Do not include any identifiable information in your profile
Do not include your real first or last name, where your work or any information that can personally identify you.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you disclose on your dating profile that you live in New York and you list your occupation as a Manage of a flower shop. That would likely be OK because there are hundreds, if not thousands of flower shops in New York.
Conversely, if you live in say Dyersville, Iowa with a population of 4,000 people and say the same thing, you can easily be tracked down, especially if you include your photo.
If you are a customer service representative at Target, you may want to say that you are employed in retail and leave it at that.
If you are the CEO at AT & T, you may want to say that you are involved in technology.
Should you include a profile photo?
The jury is out on this one. Many of the dating sites will tell you that if you include a photo that your chances of receiving responses to your internet profile are greater however, particularly for women, putting your photo out there on a dating website can open you up to unnecessary risk and unwanted attention.
A photo can be beneficial in proving that you are a real person, however remember that others can easily post a photo that is not even a photo of them.
If you do choose to put up a photo, you can either post a distance shot of yourself so that your face is not 100% recognizable or you can post only a head shot. To be fair, if you do post a photo make sure it is accurate reflection of you and your body type. Refrain from posting that great photo from 5 years ago if you look very different now.
Some people will only send a photo to people they have developed a rapport with. Although not foolproof, it can help protect you because people that are simply trolling for photos will likely ignore your profile.
Email, online and phone communication
Now that you have your profile up, you are likely to start receiving responses. Perhaps you are even reaching out trying to find people to connect with.
Once you start communicating with people, remember they may not be who they say they are. Be cautious. There is no need to tell the person you are communicating with your entire life story. Keep it light.
Do not friend them on facebook right way where they can learn more about your personal habits.
After a certain point in time, when you both feel comfortable, additional bits of personal information will likely be exchanged. Do not give out your home or work address though, it is not safe and needlessly exposes you to potential dangers.
Be careful if someone is pressuring you to meet right way. Be extremely wary if some says they don’t have children but seems overly interested in your kids or says things that you consider inappropriate or says things that make you uncomfortable.
Keep your antennae up and listen to your instincts.
Meeting in person
After a period of time communicating online, texting and talking on the telephone, you and your internet match will want to meet. Right?
Although it can be exciting, it can also be dangerous and you want to minimize your risk.
For your first meeting, you may want to meet in a neutral type of place. Perhaps a coffee shop or lunch at a popular and busy establishment. If finances are an issue, a coffee meeting at McDonalds or even a doughnut shop would be suitable.
It is not recommended that you meet in an out of the way place and you should be cautious if you decide to meet at a bar. Don’t get hammered!
For women, it might be better if you can select the place.
Whether you are male or female, let a trusted friend know where you are going, what time you are meeting and who you are meeting up with. By this time you should have the person’s last name.
If you are really cautious, it might be a good idea to provide a link to the profile of the person you are meeting so that if you do not return, they can turn over the information to authorities to help find you.
One enterprising friend, snaps a photo on their phone of the person they are meeting, right in front of them, and sends it to the trusted friend.
It is not advisable to meet at someone’s home, have your internet date pick you up at your own or provide your physical street address.
If you put some real thought into your internet dating profile, post your profile on well-known sites that have an air of legitimacy and utilize safety precautions, you have a better chance of attracting that special someone.
Have you met your someone special on the internet or perhaps have a horror story to share and warn others about?
Feel free to comment and let us know.