couples

22 tips for staying safe while online dating.

By Helen Highnett for Divorced Moms.

Getting back into the dating world following divorce or separation can be a daunting task, even more so when it’s been a long time since you last dated and/or you have children.

Online dating can be a safer experience than traditional dating, it gives you a wider scope of choice and you can remain at a safe distance until you are ready to meet someone. It also allows you to get a little bit of information from their profile without having to interact with them, helping you to see if you are compatible, therefore saving time.

Online dating is a fun way to interact with people you may never normally meet. Image: iStock.

So, if you are new to online dating or are worried about stories you may have heard, I have compiled a few tips and some advice to get you dating online safely and confidently.

1. Keep it real:

When completing your profile, you need to be as honest as possible. Think about how you would feel if someone misled you, so it's important not to mislead anyone. It's also very hard to pretend you are 5'10" when you are really 5'2" or 30 years-old when you are really in your forties.

2. Post a recent picture of yourself:

Post a current photo, make sure the photograph is recent and not from 10 years ago. Make sure you can't identify family, friends, or your home; you don't want to unwillingly give away personal details like where you live or who you know.

3. Be in control:

Don't give away any personal information that you are not comfortable with sharing, don't give personal information too soon or post sensitive information without knowing exactly who you are sharing it with. Communicate via the dating site and only give out your personal email address after you've gotten to know someone.

ADVERTISEMENT

4. Protect your identity:

Use a well-known site and one that hides your email address and your contact information. If a site asks you for your location try not to give your exact town, especially if it's a small town, its state should be enough. You can give the post code of a town close to you, for instance.

Protect yourself online. Image: iStock.

5. Avoid any talk of finances too soon:

There is no reason why you should ever disclose any financial information online. If someone asks you for money, please don't give it to them, even if you have built a good rapport with them. They are almost certainly a scammer.

6. You don't have to do anything you don't want to:

Don't be pressured into giving photographs that you don't want to, especially if they ask for lingerie or nude pictures, they should respect you enough not to ask.

7. Do some investigating:

If you're unsure about the person you are talking to ask for a recent photograph of them or check them out on Facebook or Twitter. Most people's social media accounts are a good indicator of what kind of person they are and you can check the photographs too or you can Skype them. And if someone doesn't want to Skype with you ask yourself, why? What are they hiding?!

Find out who they are online. Image: iStock.
ADVERTISEMENT

8. Figure out your/their intentions:

Think about what you wrote in your profile and make sure, when you read the other person's profile, to ask yourself does it convey the right tone and intention? Some people just want sex and a good time, whilst others want something more meaningful leading to a serious relationship and more; be sure yours conveys what you are looking for. This is also important when you start talking via telephone or Skype.

9. Caution:

Be cautious of someone who declares their undying love for you, especially if you haven't met them yet; manipulators tell us what we want to hear.

10. Sex:

It's important to know if we are sexually compatible with someone and these are questions you should feel comfortable enough with someone to talk about, but if that's all they seem interested in talking about alarm bells should be ringing.

11. Wait until you're ready to meet:

Don't feel forced or pressured into meeting someone before you are ready. Make sure you feel ready to meet them and when you do make sure you follow the advice below to ensure your safety.

So, you have met someone online, built up a good relationship with them and you now feel ready to take the plunge and head out on your first date. You've had a safe experience so far but with the new excitement, it can be easy to forget and keep it that way. If your date is a decent person, they’ll completely understand and respect your caution and will hopefully be taking similar steps themselves.

Wait until YOU are ready to meet. Image: iStock.
ADVERTISEMENT

Here are some tips and advice to keep you safe when meeting up:

1. Don't agree to them picking you up from your home or work address unless you are totally confident that you know you can trust them.

2. Choose a location you are familiar with, that way you are comfortable with entrance and exit points and you have a little control. Arrive earlier than your date, that way you can choose where you sit and feel comfortable in your surroundings.

3. Always meet in a public location, make sure you are within view and hearing distance of other people.

4. Don't let them take you away from the public domain unless you are completely comfortable and feel safe enough to do so.

5. Always tell someone you trust who you are going to meet, when and where you are going and the time you intend on being home. If your plans change don't forget to provide them with an update.

6. Arrange with the person who knows where you are to check in at regular intervals and have a way of telling them how it's going, especially if you need help.

7. Trust your instincts, if you do not feel comfortable or think something is wrong, you should politely make your excuse and leave, Always trust your instincts, they are there for a reason.

8. If you are drinking alcohol be careful. Keep an eye on your date ordering your drink. If you think your food or drink has been tampered with then don't consume it.

9. On your first date always arrange your own transport to and from your location, always plan your journey home in case you need to leave unexpectedly. Have a taxi number handy if you need one or better still book a taxi in advance, you can always cancel it later.

10. Always make sure your phone is fully charged. If you "pay as you go" make sure your phone is adequately topped up just in case you need to call someone.

11. Your date may have the same concerns so don't push them into doing anything they are not comfortable with either.

Just remember, safety first, if you feel uncomfortable at any point, go home. Make your excuses and leave, and don’t feel bad about it.

So what are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Good luck.

This post originally appeared on Divorced Moms.

00:00 / ???