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Cyberdating? Stay Safe

written by: •edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 5/4/2009

This article explains how to maintain personal safety while cyberdating or online dating.

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    The internet is becoming more and more of a necessity for everyone. The more we get accustomed to the tool, the more we like it. And, we begin using the internet for more and more things. In our rushed everyday world, there seems to be less time for socializing. This is prompting internet users to find friends online.

    Before you begin searching for an online companion or cyberdate, register for a free disposable email address such as Yahoo or HotMail. Don’t associate this email address with your other email addresses. Just in case an unsavory character decides to contact you too often or tries to follow you around the internet, you can easily close the email account without the hassle of informing family, friends or business associates of the change of email address.

    Remember not to post, fax, email or provide any personal information to someone you met online. Don’t give the person any more information about yourself than you would to someone you just met in person for the first time. Avoid the temptation that you already know this person because you’ve been corresponding and sharing interests or hobbies. Try not to provide tidbits of information that can be put together to retrieve your address, phone number or workplace.

    Cyberdating is not much different than the blind date or the first date in regards to safety. Everyone dating online must remember that even though you’ve been chatting, texting, corresponding or talking online with someone, they are a stranger. You don’t have a way of knowing for certain if the person online has been telling you the truth or even if they are whom they claim to be.

    When you are considering meeting your cyberdate in person, take the same precautions you would if you met them at a park, at the bus stop, in a bar, at a restaurant, on a plane or anywhere else you could meet someone. Chat over the telephone for a period of time before arranging the first face-to-face meeting. Bring neighborhood friends or family to the first meeting at a very public location such as the mall or zoo. Tell them you are bringing friends. If they object to this for any reason continue your search with someone else.

    Corresponding with someone through the internet loses what I call the “safety back-up.” My safety back-up is the initial impression of the person. The whole circumstances of the first meeting contribute: the look in the eyes, how they dress, their expressions, their personal hygiene, their voice. Expect that the person did lie to you a little. Everyone lies online about something they feel inadequate about whether it's their age, weight, height, income or another feature of their person or life. This is commonplace and not meant to deceive (although it does). You want to be sure the person is not lying about what is important to you. Don’t depend on the picture they may have shown you. You don’t have a way to know if the picture was taken years ago or if it is their picture at all. Stay with a group for a few dates. Don’t leave the group to go home or out alone with your date. Consider the feedback you get from your family or friends about this individual. They are not potentially romantically involved and usually can offer unbiased opinions.

    I’m not trying to say that everyone you meet online will deceive you. In fact, I believe the majority of internet users are everyday persons just trying to live their life using the most convenient tools available. I’m trying to say that safety comes first. It only takes one incident to compromise personal safety. Stay safe.