Still looking for a special someone? Just be sure to keep yourself safe. Here are ten ways to find love for your heart but keep your personal protection on your mind.
1. Watch out for someone who seems too good to be true. Begin by communicating solely by email, then look for odd behavior or inconsistencies. The person at the other end may not be who or what he says he is. Trust your instincts. If anything makes you uncomfortable, walk away for your safety and protection.
2. Make sure all contact on a member site takes place through a double-blind system, ensuring your true identity is protected until you decide to reveal it. Never include your last name, home address, phone number, place of employment, email address or any other identifying information in your profile or initial messages. When corresponding with someone, turn off your email signature file. Stop communicating with anyone who puts pressure on you for personal information or attempts in any way to trick you into revealing it.
3. Cautious decisions will result in a better dating experience. Be sure to protect yourself against trusting the untrustworthy; potential boyfriends must earn your trust gradually over time, through consistently honorable, straightforward behavior. Take all the time you need to investigate for a straightforward person and pay careful attention along the way. If you suspect someone is lying, he probably is, so act accordingly. Be responsible about romance, your heart will thank you. Don’t become prematurely intimate with someone, even if that intimacy only occurs online. If you mutually decide to cross the point of no return, be smart and protect yourself. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/ ) provide some of the most current information available about sexually transmitted diseases and preserving your health.
4. Most online dating services do not require members to submit to background checks. So make sure you get as much info as possible by asking questions, utilizing internet search engines and most importantly, using common sense. Nothing is 100% reliable, just remember to use your head…not just your heart.
5. A photo will give you a good idea of the person’s appearance, which may prove helpful in achieving a gut feeling. In fact, it’s best to view several images of someone in various settings: casual, formal, indoor and outdoors. If all you hear are excuses about why you can’t see a photo, consider that he has something to hide.
6. A phone call can reveal much about a person’s communication and social skills. Consider your security and do not reveal your phone number to a stranger. Try a cell phone number instead or use local telephone blocking techniques to prevent your phone number from appearing on a Caller ID. Give out your phone number ONLY when you feel completely comfortable.
7. The beauty of meeting someone online is that you can collect information gradually, later choosing whether to pursue the relationship in the offline world. You never are obligated to meet anyone, regardless of your level on online intimacy. And even if you decide to arrange a meeting, you always have the right to change your mind. It’s possible that your decision to keep the relationship anonymous is based on a hunch that you can’t logically explain. Trust yourself. Go with your instincts
8. Pay attention to displays of anger, intense frustration or attempts to pressure or control you. Acting in a passive-aggressive manner, making demeaning or disrespectful comments or any physically inappropriate behavior are all red flags. You should be concerned if your date exhibits any of the following behavior without providing an acceptable explanation: Provides inconsistent information about age, interests, appearance, marital status, profession, employment, etc. Refuses to speak to you on the phone after establishing ongoing, online intimacy. Fails to provide direct answers to direct questions. Appears significantly different in person from his or her online persona. Never introduces you to friends, professional associates or family members.
9. When you choose to meet offline, always tell friends where you are going and when you will return. Leave your date’s name and telephone number with a friend. Never arrange for your date to pick you up at home. Provide your own transportation, meet in a public place at a time with many people around (a familiar restaurant or coffee house is often a good choice), and when the date is over, leave on your own as well. Refrain from drinking excessively, as it could weaken your ability to make good decisions. If at some point you and your date decide to move to another location, take your own car. When the timing is right thank your date for getting together and say goodbye
10. If you plan to fly in from another city, arrange for your own car and hotel room. Do not make known the name of your hotel and never allow your date to make arrangements for you. Get a rental car at the airport and drive directly to your hotel. Always call your date from the hotel. You can also check out the location you both agreed to meet at ahead of time to see exactly where it is and to get more familiar with an area . If the location seems inappropriate or unsafe, go back to your hotel. Try to contact your date at that location or leave a message on an answering machine. Always make sure a friend or family member knows your plans and has your contact information. And carry a cell phone at all times.
Never do anything you feel unsure about. If you are in any way afraid of your date, use your best judgment to diffuse the situation and get out of there. Excuse yourself long enough to call a friend for advice, ask someone else on the scene for help or slip out the back door and drive away. If you feel you are in danger, call the police; it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Never worry or feel embarrassed about your behavior; your safety is much more important than one person’s opinion of you.
While cheaters, liars and frauds certainly can be very convincing on the Web, you’ll also find them in nightclubs and offline dating services, parties or even sitting across from you at your local coffee house. Despite where you meet someone, dating is never risk-free, but a little caution will reduce your risk to your safety when trying to find that certain someone for your heart.