Safe Online Practices
The ubiquity of the Internet has made it easier than ever to meet and hook up with intelligent, friendly people from all over the world; from romance to “just friends” relationships, the Internet is the new connecting point for individuals seeking to meet new people. The instant gratification one gets from using online dating services, the speed at which a person can browse profiles, filtering and scanning online photos at will, can lead to relationships with people they know very little about. With virtual communications zipping back and forth at incredible speeds, and the sheer volume of people interacting in this fashion, it's important for you to safeguard yourself. By using common sense, you can keep yourself safe, while at the same time having fun and enjoying your online dating experience—as it was intended to be. Remember this: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Just keeping the communication lines to email or online chat is a wise first step in meeting someone new.
Keep your eyes open to strange behavior or inconsistencies in how they present themselves. Remember that an online profile, or what they may tell you in a conversation, does not have an iron clad honesty guarantee; they may not be who they claim to be. Trusting your instincts can get you far; the nature of the Internet makes walking away from uncomfortable situations very easy; do this if things just don't seem right. Information is important; find out as much as you can. Be very curious.
Ask questions from the get-go; asking questions concerning their work, community, and where they grew up is a good ice-breaker, and it fills you in about their quality of person. If someone is unwilling to reveal identifying information, or becomes abrasive when asked about this, your suspicions should be aroused. Look for these clues, and if any of them surface, proceed with caution. Honesty will take you a long way. It's important that you don't misrepresent yourself; be truthful right off the bat. Exaggerations become easy when typing away your online profile. Take care in evaluating their martial status and physical appearance. Request a recent photo; if they refuse, or if they make continual excuses, they probably have something to hide. A digital camera is not even a requirement; scanning a photo at Kinko's is cheap and easy. In short, they really don't have a valid reason for not sending you a photo.
Honesty is the best policy. A phone call can reveal a lot about a person; it's a quick way to evaluate a person's social and communication skills. Sure, you may have to pay for long distance charges, but your safety and well-being are paramount. The first phone call is an important stepping stone, but don't blindly give out your phone number to strangers. Build up a trusting online correspondence before you give away your digits. Trust takes time to blossom. Take your time; don't rush. Immediately setting up a date with someone you just met can be risky business. Before you decide to arrange a physical date, take some time to get to know the person. Be on your guard when someone is pressuring you to meet them right away; any decent person should respect your decision to wait.
When they load the pressure on to meet them before you are ready, it's time to move on and look elsewhere. Here's some advice on meeting your match in person. Always find out as much as you can about the person before you decide to meet them. A full name, phone number, and address should always be required before agreeing to meet in person. Be suspicious when they will only give you a work or pager number; they could be hiding something otherwise. Look for an opportunity to make an unexpected phone call; you may find that they are married or living with someone. Make a phone call to their work. First date tips for everyone. When going out on your first date, it's a good idea to lay out some ground rules beforehand; stick to these rules, and don't let the other person manipulate or change them. It's very hard to get to know someone if you haven't spent time with them face to face.
Always remember to leave information about your date, where you're going, and when you'll be back, with someone trusting. Information about your date consists of their full name and phone number. If your date wants you to be secretive about this information, there is something wrong; look for this warning sign. Restaurants or movie theaters are good places for a date; you'll want to meet somewhere very public and in the open. Arrange for the meeting to take place in public; don't let them pick you up from your house. It's too soon for them to know exactly where you live. Mentally record everything your date tells you, and compare what they say to what they told you online; see if everything fits in place, or if they are lying about anything. It's not a good idea to bring your date back to your house right after the first date. Take the time to get to know the person first.
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