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Be Safe: Online Dating Tips for Beginners

After making the decision to try online dating, there are some safety tips that you must consider to make the most of your experience. While there are entire websites dedicated to online dating horror stories, that doesn’t mean your online dating experience has to be anything less than amazing. By observing some key common sense tips as well as going the extra mile to ensure your identity and information stay confidential, you can enjoy dating online with the same ease as you would dating offline.

Never give out your financial information
This may go without saying, but any suitor who connects with you under the guise of financial gain will soon reveal their true intentions. DON’T GIVE IN. Some common scams include daters living overseas requesting money to meet you in your hometown, country or state; family problems that require financial assistance to resolve and more. If you wouldn’t loan money to someone you just met offline, then don’t do it for someone you just met online. In fact, this is one case where the “block” feature on dating websites can be used to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to block anyone who repeatedly attempts to solicit money from you.

Protect your personal information
You can begin conversing with online daters without giving out your most sensitive personal information. In addition to financial info, protect your online profiles such Facebook and Twitter by making them private. Even email addresses can contain information that can identify you. To be on the safe side, create a separate email account specifically designed for online daters to contact you. It only takes a few minutes to create and it’s an easy way to ensure your safety online.

Make use of Skype
In this digital age, Skype dates can really come in handy. First, contacting a suitor via Skype can help you test out how well you would interact in a face-to-face setting. Second, Skype can help you determine the legitimacy of a person’s claim. For example, if someone says they aren’t married or otherwise involved but will only Skype you from work, a coffee house or a hotel lobby, that should raise red flags. While technology is made for people on the go, if someone is unwilling to call you or Skype you from the comfort of their home, then don’t ignore that tell-tale sign.

Publicize the meet and greet
This is a tip that is helpful for online and offline dating. When planning the first meet and greet, be sure to meet in a public place. If you are meeting a fellow online dater, then they should understand this tip is important for their safety as well. Contrary to popular belief, chivalry is not dead and many men want to set a great impression by picking up their date from home. Be sure to acknowledge that nice gesture if your date suggests that, but propose to meet in a neutral establishment for the first outing instead.

Trust your gut
If at any point during a first date or meeting you feel uncomfortable or unwilling to continue; by all means end it.  Women, especially, have a hard time with behaviors that will paint us as impolite or rude. Never compromise how you will look to others when making decisions that may affect your safety. Besides, there are times when all the great conversation online does not translate to a match offline. Some of the best friendships are sometimes forged via a failed attempt at dating or due to lack of romantic chemistry. But, in instances where you get a weird vibe from your date, don’t be afraid to thank them for their time, pay for the meal (at the very least, pay for your portion) and exit graciously.

Another great tip is to seek out forums where online daters have shared their experiences and what has worked for them. Don’t be afraid to research online dating. Plenty of people have done this before you and they have a wealth of knowledge and advice to share. If you have friends or family who have dated online, talk with them as well. The world of online dating doesn’t have to be any less fun or “real” than offline dating. Like everything else in life, the experience is what you make it.

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