Although online dating has become more commonplace in the new millennium, it still comes with its share of risks — especially for young women. If you’ve decided to attempt online dating, it’s wise of you to take a few simple precautions. These precautions are not only for weeding out jerks, but also for protecting your safety when dating online.
Watch for Red Flags
When evaluating online profiles, there are a few things to look out for. If someone rants in his profile, that is a clear indication that he has anger issues. The guy can’t even restrain his anger when writing to someone he’s never even met — leave him to work out his issues on his own. Don’t look to be someone’s savior.
If you look closely, you can spot a controlling person from his profile as well. For example, if he tells you what you must do, how you must act and what you must wear if you were to date him, that is a controlling person. Generally, if the guy has a long list of unrealistic demands in his profile, that’s another red flag to watch for.
Converse on IM First
Don’t be so fast to give out your cellphone number to a guy who you have just met online. There are services that allow cellphone numbers to be reverse traced back to the account holder (sometimes even the billing address) — no bueno. Give out your instant messaging ID at first instead. Sometimes one short conversation on instant messaging is enough to tell you if you want to continue talking to the guy. Be cautious about men who offer their cellphone numbers too quickly; they probably do that a lot, to just about every woman they contact online.
When it’s time to give out your number, you’ll know. As an added layer of protection, you can get a forwarding number to give out instead of your cellphone number when dating online. If things get weird later on, all you have to do is block the guy’s number from your online dashboard and he’ll never know your real “digits.”
Schedule Day Dates
When you do decide to meet a man that you met online, set up a day date at first. Meet him for happy hour or lunch so that you can talk and get to know him. It’s partially for reasons of safety and partially because you won’t be tempted to do something you might regret in the morning. Some men that you’ll meet online will purposely try to set up a late night time for a first date (how about a drink?) because there is a better chance that you’ll have a moment of weakness and go home with them.
Some women do full-fledged background checks on the men they date online, but if you find that a little extreme a simple Google Search will do for now. One time I Googled a guy’s internet handle and found him soliciting women online. Another time I searched the name of a guy who gave me his business card and found a) a criminal record of him sleeping with an underage girl and b) being married. Just search for the guy’s name, email or profile ID to see if it reveals something questionable about him.
It is important to take certain precautions when dating online, but remember that the best advice is to listen to and trust your woman’s intuition.
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