Online dating and safety.

People hear bad stories about online dating then assume that it’s unsafe and filled with perverts. Fact is, everyone has had a bad date whether they met online or not. This is not just an online phenomenon. If you think about it, there are horror stories about everything from restaurants to hotel bed sheets (sorry) but we overcome, right?

Consider this: when you take up online dating, you know you’re dealing with strangers. As such and thankfully, most of us have a slightly elevated sense of caution.

Conversely, when you meet someone at a party through “friends of friends”, you can end up with misguided sense of familiarity. After all, you’re dealing with strangers in that situation too.

Online dating can be safe, especially if you go through the process and don’t skip steps. Personally I think that you need to do a few emails back and forth. A lot of people say “not into endless emails” on their dating profile and will skip this step but I think it’s important. Emails aren’t ideal and sometimes tone is not well communicated over them but they, nonetheless, allow you to gather information about the other person. Emails give you a chance to get to know certain behaviors the person has with family, friends and co-workers. They also give you a chance to ask questions about the person’s past. After a few emails, you’re then in a better position to see if the information seems consistent and adds up. That’s where safety comes in. Emails give you and your online suitor the opportunity to catch some red flags, should there be any.

Besides, a few thoughtful and open emails can help you break the ice when you do end up meeting.

Another suggestion is to follow up the email process with a few calls. Again, the phone brings out a different dimension in a person. I know one woman who really enjoyed a man over email. Then came the first phone call – not only was his manner a little unrefined, he spoke very quickly and gruffly. It was a definite red flag for her. Over email, she liked the content of what he said. Plus, everything added up. He was not someone she thought was deceiving. However, she had presumed that his email tone to be warmer and more charming than it actually was and she was relieved that she hadn’t met him.

Lastly, if you do end up meeting, do so in public and don’t share a car ride. This goes for men too.  For at least the first few dates, always remember that you’re dealing with a stranger. Relax but only truly let your guard down over time. Be discerning and trust your instincts.

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