Everyone who stumbled upon the 1998 romantic comedy You've Got Mail would be familiar with the characters “Shopgirl”(Meg Ryan) and “NY152”(Tom Hanks), two business rivals who start courting online and finally fall in love before learning of each other’s true identities. The film was one of the first to capture the emerging trend of online dating on the big screen. Online dating ushered in a new era in finding partners who shared similar taste in interests, spiritual beliefs, age groups, etc. It took the online world by storm with its ability to provide multiple choices to a person looking out for a relationship, be it romantic or sexual. The conventional form of meeting people at occasions or being introduced by close friends suddenly seems passé. As such, there is also a slightly scary side to internet dating. The probability of running into unsavory characters like cyber criminals, pedophiles, kidnappers, stalkers, etc have also considerably increased with the spike in users frequenting online dating sites. The same anonymity provided by these service providers that fuels more open conversations is also what makes it difficult for the cyber patrol to catch up to such offenders. By following a few safety tips, you can keep yourself away from such beguiling characters.
Internet Dating Safety Tips
- Maintain anonymity till you are really comfortable with the person you are corresponding with. Avoid using personal email id’s that might have your real name on it. Creating a separate email id doesn’t cost you anything and will maintain your privacy. Avoid topics that discuss your location, place of work and other personal information. Let your intuition guide you, and don’t feel uncomfortable about not sharing more information, only an insincere person is likely to want your personal details straight up. Never divulge your last name or address until you are absolutely certain of the person’s character.
- Watch out for people who knowingly misrepresent themselves, dating sites are rife with people who post pictures of other ‘good looking’ people, say they earn six figure sums, and weigh much more than they might let out. In short, a fair, athletic, well settled young man might turn out to be way into his forties, balding, unemployed, and slightly pudgy. A considerable amount of internet daters also happen to be married, and looking for an affair, so be careful with phrases that say ‘married but separated’ and the likes. Users are also in the habit of posting pictures taken ‘a while back’ and might not look the same anymore. Always make sure you ask for a recent photo when swapping pictures.
- Be extremely careful with meet and greets. If a relationship progresses to a rendezvous, always make sure to meet at a public place and if you don’t feel comfortable enough, take a friend along with you. If at all you ever do go out alone to meet someone you met online, make sure you keep a friend informed of your whereabouts and to give in a call in between to see if things are going according to plan. Remember your safety comes first.
- If you feel suspicious or uncomfortable with the way a conversation is going, do not hesitate to cut ties and move on, remember there are plenty of fish in the sea. You may run into people who will strike up a conversation and later “get to business”. Cyber criminals lurk in every form and may even sound like a charming young man or sexy young lady. Soliciting of any kind should not be entertained.
- Never give out your home phone number or your cell phone number. If at all, you decide to have a phone conversation make sure you do it without revealing your phone number. For that, you can use caller id blocking, etc.
- Register with a reputed dating site. When looking for love online, be reminded that there are sites that conduct background checks on their members so that potential and existing members are not exposed to threats like stalking, fraud, and sexual violence.
Safety should be your first priority when searching for love online. Online dating is one sure shot way to way to meet someone you like, who you could be friends with and if luck would have it, it might develop into something more. You can still meet Ms/Mr. Right even if you follow the above precautions, so why take chances. Happy Hunting!