How to Stay Safe When Dating Online
Remember Manti Te'o? He thought he had a girlfriend, but it was all a hoax perpetrated by who knows, but he ended up looking like an idiot. It can be easy to get duped. Especially when it comes to the Internet. Here’s how to stay safe if you’re hoping to meet your match on the web.
Talk to Them
Match boasts that in our digital age, one in five new relationships start on the web, so before you start anything in person, talk to them on the phone. You can’t really get someone’s vibe going back and forth on email or the site, so it’s worth chatting a few times on the phone before you actually meet in person. The person could be totally different than the way they were on email and you may not want things to go further. I thought I was on the same page with one gentleman, but it turned out he was interested in other things besides just grabbing pizza and a beer. He was very rough and interrupted a lot, which I hate, so I’m glad I saved my cash and gas.
Don't Tell All
Don’t reveal too much about yourself right away. It’s OK to say that you’re an account manager for a small business; just don’t tell them which one. It was hard for me to not say what I do because I have such a weird job. I just said that I was in the communications field. I didn’t tell them that I was the local radio morning personality. I made that mistake once, and the guy proceeded to call me by my first and last name the whole night and asked for my autograph at the end of the date. Awkward. Be as vague as you can about where you work and save the specifics for date three or four.
Meet in Public
When you’re setting up your first meeting, meet in a public place and drive separate cars. Better yet, have someone at the same spot so they can keep an eye on you. Have a high sign to give if things aren’t going well. I scratched my right temple and put on Chap Stick to let her know I needed saving. If there was no high sign, I would go to the bathroom and text her to let her know what was going on and if things were going well, she could leave. It sounds crazy, I know, but it was just really helpful to know she was sitting there ready to save me. Plus, afterward, we could grab coffee and laugh about it. If that’s not possible, tell someone, anyone (sister, brother, bestie, Mom) where you’re going and who you’re going with and give them your date’s name and phone number. I know it sounds like a crazy thing to do, but it’s better to be safe.
Do they keep delaying when you can meet? Do they want to meet really far away from where they work or live? Do they want to meet at "off" times. Do they cancel at the last minute more than once? Are they speaking softly on the phone? Are your conversations very short? Bells and whistles should be going off and red flags should be waving all over the place. It happened to me. I dated a guy who was dating me while trying to get back together with his ex. Not cool. Your date may be married or are already dating someone, or, like in Manti Te'o's case, he or she may not even be real. It's better to end it sooner rather than later. Which brings me to my next point:
Trust Your Instincts
This last one is very important: Trust your gut. If something isn’t right and there are feelings of apprehension, listen to them and don’t go. In all reality, meeting someone online isn’t really any different than going for coffee with the cute produce manager at the grocery store, but in both cases, it is important to keep your own safety and well being at the top of your list. Just don’t be so afraid you can’t relax.