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10 Tips For Safe Online Dating

By Susan Webb

A recent U.S. News & World Report claimed that over 40 million people visit online dating sites each month in the United States alone. By some estimates there are over 750 individual lifestyle and online dating sites. And that doesn’t include sites like Facebook and MySpace. Many people believe that part of the attraction of the popular social networks is the possibility of lighting new flames or rekindling old ones!

Although the U.S. online dating scene is dominated by giants like Yahoo! Personals, Match.com and eHarmony, there are dozens of online dating sites to suit everyone’s lifestyle, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Another match-making site that has attracted lots of publicity lately, although some of it for the wrong reasons, is CraigsList.

Although many people feel secure in the anonymity afforded by online dating, if they are serious about meeting someone, there will come a time when they have to make the move from the virtual world to the real world. Although there’s a certain excitement that comes with meeting a person for the first time face-to-face, online daters always need to be on their guard. Even though you might have exchanged countless e-mails and even talked on the phone a few times, that first meeting is still essentially a blind date with a complete stranger.

If you or someone in your family is about to join the online dating game, here are 10 basic tips for staying safe on those all-important first couple of dates:

  1. Arrange to meet on neutral ground.
    When meeting for the first time, never allow your date to pick you up from your home. In fact, your date shouldn't even know where you live!
  2. Meet in a public place.
    For a first meeting, always meet in a public place where other people are in close proximity. You may also want to consider going out with a group of people, or even on a double date.
  3. Pay your own way.
    It's always respectful for the man to offer to pay the check. Unfortunately, some men ruin the gesture by expecting something in return. Therefore, it’s a good idea for the first couple of dates to insist on splitting the bill. This way, you won’t be under any obligation to “return the favor”.
  4. Remember that alcohol affects your judgment.
    The biggest threat to a person's judgment when they are on a date is alcohol. Not only does it affect your judgment but it also lessens your inhibitions. If you are drinking, keep your drink in sight at all times and don’t get so drunk that you don’t know what you are doing. Better yet, avoid alcohol altogether on that first date.
  5. Use your own mode of transportation.
    Make sure you have your own transportation to your public meeting place and also make sure you have enough gas to get you there and back home!
  6. Don’t let your date know where you live.
    If you want to see him again, arrange a second date and then take it from there. If the relationship is going to go anywhere, there will be plenty of time to exchange personal information.
  7. Give him your cell phone number.
    It's safer to give out a cell phone number instead of your home number. Home numbers are easy to trace. Remember, if you are making calls from home and you don’t want the number to be identified, you can always ask your phone service to block caller ID.
  8. Always let someone else know where you're going.
    Be sure to tell someone close to you where you are going and who you'll be with. You might even consider arranging a time for them to call you and check in. Or you could arrange to meet up later that night.
  9. Listen to your gut.
    If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. If you haven’t met him before and you know at the beginning of the date that something doesn’t feel right, then leave immediately.
  10. Always remain alert.
    Even if you’re having a blast and the chemistry is great, it’s a good idea to remain alert the whole evening. Make sure you have a fully-charged cell phone with you.

Comment by Terrence, posted 10/21/2010, 3:24 PM:

All the tips are good, but number 9 is the main one: listen to that gut! It doesn't lie. <a href="http://www.meet-single-people.com/"target="new">meet singles online</a>
Comment by Ukranian Girl, posted 7/24/2009, 9:58 PM:

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