Online Dating Safety Tips

Dating online can be exciting, but also confusing. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when meeting someone new.

-Make the date something small at first, like coffee or lunch during the day. Meeting someone on your lunch break gives you an "out" if you don't care for the person. If you do, you can always make another date.

-Meet in a public place. If possible, "double" with a friend. This also forces you to drive your own car as opposed to having to get in theirs or have them in yours. If you can't double, at least let a friend or roommate know where you're going and when you plan to be back.

-Be careful about how you talk to other people in the room as well as your date. You don't want to be overly flirtatious because, even if you aren't saying these things (like joking about the waiter's last name being "Finger" or whatnot) to your date, he could get the idea that you're the kind of person who would fool around like that with strangers and take advantage of that. I know this seems extreme and overly cautious, but better safe than sorry.

-Take his number rather than giving out yours. Keep your home phone number, personal email, address to yourself until you feel more comfortable. Don't let him pick you up or pick him up, don't let him take you home or come in until you know him bitter.

-This should be obvious, but don't drink too much, leave a drink unattended or accept a drink you did not see poured. In fact, that's another good reason to get together during the day because most people don't have alcohol on their lunch break. It may be "five o'clock somewhere", but not here.

-Be careful about how much or what information you give. Not readily giving out your address and phone number is obvious, but those aren't the only things you should keep under wraps. I'm a very open person, so there are times when I've given too much information without realizing it. The story about getting a dragonfly tattoo on Spring Break after five shots of tequila or might be funny, but it really isn't something you want to tell someone you don't know very well. Ditto the one about how you can drink your sisters under the table when it comes to liquor (true story!) but get a buzz from beer. Things like this can give a potential date the wrong idea. I probably don't have to tell you what could happen if the wrong person heard that last one.

-Talk with him on the phone before meeting in person. As well as hearing his voice, this can give you an idea about whether or not he's really the person you thought he was. It's not hard for someone to be a lot more suave/funny/intelligent in writing than in real life, where they don't have the benefit of poetry books within reach or a lucky-in-love friend telling them what to say.

-Don't let the conversation go too deep. Keep it light at first, no matter how strong the “chemistry” is. If he starts to talk about things that make you uncomfortable, end the call and don't talk with him again.

-Don't dominate the conversation. The point of dating-online or otherwise-is to get to know the other person. If you do all the talking and ramble on about your job or your mother, it will bore him out of his mind as well as not give him any chance to tell you anything about himself.

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