Rules for Online Dating

Rules for Online Dating

You have everything in common. You finish each other’s sentences. You’ve become soul mates. But wait! Have you even met yet? Follow these rules for a safe online dating experience.

So, you’ve decided to dip your feet into the online dating pool. Between working long hours, trying to stick to a budget and possibly raising children on your own, meeting someone new can be tricky.

Maybe you’re sick of the singles bar scene or don’t have the time, money or energy to get out and mingle. That’s why – like so many singles – you’ve turned to the Internet to help you find romance.

As appealing as “shopping” online for the perfect mate may be, remember that anything that seems too good to be true usually is. Being too trusting can lead to heartbreak – or even place you in physical danger.

Many wonderful people use dating sites. There are some, though, who use the anonymity of cyberspace to reinvent themselves. Internet dating sites may attract people who can hide their problems – from inappropriate behavior, to alcoholism, to criminal activities. And they may know how to target singles who seem vulnerable.

Don’t believe everything you read

You have everything in common. You finish each other’s sentences. You knew from the first time you exchanged words that you’d found your soul mate. But wait! Have you even met one another yet?

Little white lies aside (she may shave a few pounds off her weight; he may add a few inches to his height), you may come across people who post photos that aren’t their own, lie about being single or conceal unsavory backgrounds. Trusting someone who “seems nice” may lead to a big letdown – or worse – to stalking, a spiked drink or some other bad ending.

You may feel an almost-immediate connection to someone you meet on a dating site. But beware: missing are the cues you’d receive in a face-to-face meeting. The way your date dresses and his or her personal hygiene, way of speaking and body language – all of this important nonverbal language is lost in cyberspace.

How do you protect yourself?

Here are some basic rules for online dating:

  1. Don’t share personal information with someone you meet online. Don’t reveal your last name, address, phone number or place of work.
  2. If you decide to talk on the phone, place the call yourself and block your number – or use a public phone.
  3. If you want to chat through regular e-mail or instant messaging, set up a separate account. Use a screen name that doesn’t reveal your identity or location.
  4. Take your time! Chat online or on the phone until you feel comfortable about meeting. If something doesn’t seem quite right, trust your gut. Don’t let yourself be pressured into meeting someone.
  5. Remember, this person is a stranger. Sharing personal details with each other through e-mails can create a false sense of intimacy. Be cautious – no matter how much you feel you’ve bonded.
  6. If you decide to meet, do so in a public place, like a restaurant or coffee shop. Let someone know where you’ll be, who you are meeting and when you’ll be back.
  7. Don’t get into a car with your date on your first meeting. In fact, until you’ve reached a point of real trust, limit your dates to public places. Take the same precautions you would take with any stranger.

On a positive note …

You can’t trust everyone you meet online, but you can’t trust everyone you meet in person, either. Being cautious doesn’t mean being paranoid. If you behave sensibly, trust your instincts and take your time, you may just find your one and only.

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