If you are serious
about wanting to meet someone, online dating could be a wonderful way
to check out lots of prospects in a short period of time. You can weed
out certain things you donít want and look specifically for things you
do want. It can be an easy way to find the person of your dreams. But,
you do have to be careful and take a few precautions.
Donít pretend to be
something you are not because you think that will bring more
opportunity. Itís a waste of time. Deception is not a good way to start
things off. Eventually you will be found out. Chances are the other
person will not be happy. There are people out there who will like you
just the way you are. Itís best to wait for one of them.
Avoid Form Letters
Some people send the same letter to all prospects to save time. The problem with this is that it feels
like a form letter. There is nothing personal in it to connect to the
other person. It feels like the conveyor belt approach of, ďLet me try
this oneÖ then this one.Ē Itís a big turn off. It may be more work to
write a personal note to each prospect, but itís worth it.
Take It Easy
There will be people out there who are not honest with you.
The best way to guard against being taken advantage of by one of them
is to take it easy. Email back and forth a few times through the online
dating service email and hide your real email address. Ask a lot of
questions and pay attention to the answers. Are they consistent with
the profile? Does anything feel weird? Trust your gut. You donít have
to have ďproofĒ that something is odd before walking away.
I just talked about
not using your real email address, but being anonymous is more than
that. Donít give out your last name, home address, workplace
information, or phone number until you are sure that the person you are
talking to is someone you can trust. Itís a lot easier to guard against
an annoying contact than to get rid of one later. If youíre dealing
with a nice person, this will be understandable. If youíre being
pressured to reveal personal information, walk away now!
Ask to See Lots of Pictures
There are a few
reasons for this. First, most people can take one good glamour shot.
You donít want to base your feelings on a best case scenario. When you
see many pictures, it gives a more realistic view of what the person
truly looks like. Second, having a visual image in your mind can help
you get an intuitive feel for the person. Third, some people use
someone elseís picture or pictures of themselves ten years ago. By
requesting and getting many photos, you can feel more assured that the
person you are talking to is indeed the person in the picture.
Talk on the Phone Before Meeting
Attraction is a
multidimensional thing. With online dating, you start with the written
word and a photo. When you add the voice, you have an even greater
sense of who the person on the other end is. It fleshes out the
picture, which can confirm good feeling or create more questions.
Remember to exercise caution. Consider using a cell phone, blocking
caller ID, or calling from a public phone.
Exercise Caution When Meeting
If you decide to
meet, do it during daylight hours, in a public place with many other
people around, and provide your own transportation to and from the
meeting place. Tell someone where you are going and who you will be
with. Go someplace familiar so that you donít get lost, but donít go to
one of your regular hang outs. While most people are really interested
in finding someone to connect with, there are people with other ideas.
Be safe. Use common sense. Itís better to be cautious and safe than to
be a victim.
Make Your Own Travel Arrangements
If you are traveling
to meet someone, follow the same common sense advice you would when
dating in your own town. Make your own travel arrangements. Do not
reveal your hotel location or flight plans. Do not allow your date to
pick you up at the hotel or airport. Carry a cell phone with you at all
times. If time allows, acquaint yourself with the meeting location
beforehand. If something feels not right, leave. Donít worry about
being hurting someoneís feelings or feeling foolish. Trust your
instinct and leave.
Watch for Warning Signs
If something seems
too good to be true, it probably is. If you canít tell, ask a trusted
friend or family member for advice. Specific things to watch for:
- gives you conflicting information about job, family, childhood, past relationships, personal history, etc.
- doesnít want to introduce you to friends, family, or co-workers
- doesnít accept calls at home
- seems really different in person than online
- tries to rush intimacy or displays physically inappropriate behavior
- pressures you (either overtly or subtly) to change the way you look or behave
- flashes of anger or controlling behavior
There are realistic
hazards to dating online and offline. By using a bit of common sense,
you enhance your odds of meeting the right person safely. Happy dating!
There are realistic hazards to dating online and offline. By using a bit of common sense, you enhance your odds of meeting the right person safely.
About the author
Laura Giles, MSW specializes in women's issues, relationships, and families with children from affairs. She is the author of "The Other Child: Children of Affairs" and "Growing Up Crazy." Laura is a frequent radio talk show guest. She does online counseling for clients across the country and can be found at http://healthy-living-solutions.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org