According to the market research firm, IBISworld, at least 20 million people are utilizing online dating services. Many of these individuals have went on to have successful casual dates and even marriage offers, but several others have ran into people that were already married, lied about their appearance, or worse, lied about their entire background. It’s imperative to practice safety precautions when it comes to dating, whether online or off, but in the virtual world, added precautions will help decipher a frog from a prince.
- Don’t rush to give out your information. In fact, it’s a wise idea to use an anonymous email when meeting potential dates. There are several free email programs, such as Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, and Hotmail, which will allow you to create an account specifically for potential dates. Never use your full name or give out any specific details regarding your location until you’ve had a chance to get comfortable with your suitor.
- Consider having your first date at a public place, such as a restaurant, sidewalk cafe, or a movie theater. Never agree to meet a potential date partner alone anywhere that’s too secluded or private, such as his home or yours. Public locations not only have the benefit of being fun places for a first meeting, but also offer the added safety of having a convenient way to leave a situation that’s not going as well as expected.
- Don’t have unrealistically high expectations. Sure, it is nice to think that Mr. Wonderful is waiting at the other end of the chat screen, but most first dates aren’t successful. Many potential dates turn out to be less-than-desirable for various reasons, so it will take several attempts before you find someone worth dating.
- Above all, use your common sense and look for red flags. For example, be wary of anyone that asks you too many personal details about your life right away. Although it may be innocent, it’s uncomfortable to get too close too soon, and it usually means trouble. In addition, look closely at how your date talks to and about others. Some dates may make small talk by gossiping, but if it’s in excess, this could be a sign that you are with Mr. Negative. Finally, pay attention to inconsistencies. For example, if someone says he has a few dogs, then later says he has none, this should be a warning sign that he is less than truthful.