Online Dating Tips for When You're New to Internet Dating
Learn How to Successfully and Safely Date Online
Dear April Masini,
I have been thinking about trying online dating, but I have some concerns about my safety. How do I know that these people are who they say they are? How can I get information about them before I go out with them, and how much should I reveal about myself? Also, at what point is it okay to hang out with them alone? Do you have any tips for a first-time online dater?"
Sincerely, Online Dating Virgin
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Online Dating Virgin,
Internet dating was once considered a refuge for the socially inept and sadly desperate, advertising and searching for Mr. or Mrs. "Right" (or Mr. or Mrs. "Right Now"). But times have changed. Internet dating has fast become a way of life for single adults—and the numbers are staggering! It has also created a massive shift in relationships—speeding them up and intensifying them. And along with offering more and different opportunities than real-time love, it brings a totally different set of problems.
The three "A's": Good News and Bad News:
-- Good news: It's immediate and it's 24/7 and while in real-time dating you could never date 30 people in one night—with online dating, you can.
-- Bad news: You may think you're dating someone special, and he or she may be dating 30 people at the same time.
-- Good news: Gone are the days of laying out tons of cash to learn the basics about someone. For less than $25 a month anyone can meet hundreds (if not thousands) of potential dates, in fact, most sites offer either a trial free membership to test out the service and even, limited, free membership, ongoing.
-- Bad news: There is none. This is a cost efficient way to meet people, and weed them out without having to meet them and spend money on dates, clothes or just as importantly, wasting time.
-- Good news: Cyber connecting feels safe because you're behind a computer screen and it is largely nameless, allowing you to be as open or closed as you like.
-- Bad news: Some people are dishonest.
There's no longer one type who's logging on ... we all are. But with all of the thousands of people clicking their way to love it's tougher—and more important—than ever to really know how to navigate all the profiles out there ... and how to not only make your own profile stand above the rest, but to be selective, smart and safe.
Start by checking out your dates ...
It's always a good idea to run a little background check on people in your life -- without going overboard or getting paranoid. But here are a few Google tips you can use for your date -- or anyone else in your life.
1. Just because it's written doesn't mean it's true. There can be more than one person with the same name, and you may read things about the person you think is your date, but it turns out it's really someone else with the same name. On the other hand, just because it's true doesn't mean it's written about. Google is a wonder, but it doesn't catch everything.
2. The good news is the bad news. If you "dodge a bullet," and find out something horrific about your Saturday night date, cancel, by all means. Never put yourself in any danger.
3. Google-dropping. If you do find out something interesting -- like he's a multi-gazilliionaire, or he's been married four times already and he's only 30, by all means bring it up on your date, but gently. There are ways of easing into a subject so that you give him the opportunity to say it first. If you find out he has kids -- or grandkids -- by Googling him, you can say on your date, "I love kids. I have the cutest niece. Do you want kids someday?" It gives him the opportunity to bring it up himself.
4. Mutual Googling. One way to bring up Googling is to say, "I assume you've Googled me. Find out anything juicy?" And then he gets to ask you what you found out about him.
5. A Google A Day. If you want to keep tabs on him, set up a Google Alert that will yield daily information about your date, as it's posted on the search engine.
How far should you go?
Use your common sense and your instincts. I know that sounds easy, but most people lose their common sense and instincts to low self esteem, along the way. Check in with yourself. If you're feeling that you need more information on a date there are lots of public records that are available online, and many that are available for a fee. You can find out if your date is truly divorced and if so when, however most divorce records are kept by state, so if your date was divorced in another state -- or married in another state -- the search will be state by state. And if you're willing to search state by state -- you have a flashing yellow light on your hands in terms of your trust level, your instincts and this person you're seeing.
And here are a few more safety ideas ...
April's Ten Commandments of Dating Safely on the Internet
1. Thou shall not play games.
Searching for a mate or a significant other is serious business. Treat others honestly and fairly. Remember the Golden Rule, "Treat others as you would like to be treated." You can be playful, but not harmful. Leading people on or giving them false interest can get you into trouble. Some websites have chat rooms or message boards and you can get a reputation as a tease or dishonest person. If someone doesn't meet your expectations or it just doesn't work out, let the situation go and move on. Keep from trying to seek some "revenge" or "getting even."
2. Thou shall be creative, BUT ...
Everyone wants to look appealing in his or her profile, but don't over do it. Being too provocative or suggestive can attract the wrong people. Don't be too revealing. Give your prospective dates something to wonder about. Be friendly and upbeat and show your positive traits, but don't be overtly sexual, or use double meanings to sell yourself, it could lead to trouble if you meet.
3. Thou shall go slowly.
Everyone who is searching, is anxious to find someone, however, keep things in perspective and do not jump at everyone who shows interest. Set standards and try to stay with them. Don't compromise; there are lots of people out there.
4. Thou shall be informed.
Make sure you ask pertinent questions of your prospective date. Don't be afraid to do a little research to check out the person, before you set a meeting. Ask about where they went to school, where they work, where have they lived? Never assume anything, it is even OK to ask how long they have been single or are they married or how long they were married. They may lie, but give them the opportunity to answer the questions truthfully.
5. Thou shall protect yourself.
Do not reveal too much information about your personal life in your profile. If you have kids, especially, small children it is wise not to include them in photographs that you post with your profile. Do not reveal your last name until you are sure this is someone you want to get to know. Communicate through the dating service website initially, until you feel comfortable enough to give out your own personal e-mail. Once you have established a mutual "connection" set up a phone call. Hearing a person's voice and the way they express themselves can be very revealing. Then if that generates interest you can plan the all-important "first date."
6. Thou shall be honest above all else.
Never over overstate your background or qualifications, it can come back to haunt you. You want to start a new relationship on solid ground. If you don't want to reveal every detail about yourself at this time, that's fine, but don't exaggerate or lie about things. Just as you should be honest, expect the same from your date. Speaking of which, if they are evasive or seem to be holding back on questions you have, don't be afraid to push a little for more satisfying answers.
7. Thou shall be smart.
Remember the conversations that you have shared with your potential date. If there are contradictory stories or if your potential date tells you things that don't make sense, be prepared to end things.
8. Thou shall not put oneself at risk.
When planning the first meeting, choose a public or popular place. Don't isolate yourself. Provide your own transportation or have a friend take you to the meeting place and pick you up.
Make sure you let someone know about your date and where and when you are meeting.
Make sure you remain in control of your senses. Don't do anything that could impair your decision making process, like drinking too much.
9. Thou shall trust thy own instincts.
Even though you might be nervous about meeting someone for the first time, if you should have serious doubts, be prepared to call the date off or if you are on the date, don't be afraid to excuse yourself and end the date. Especially, if the facts that he or she is telling you on the date start to not add up, or if your date presents an image that is negative and frightening.
10. Thou shall not reveal too much.
Just as if you were meeting someone for the first time in a bar, at work, at school, or in any social setting, you probably would not reveal everything about yourself all at once. While on the Internet, you have the element of anonymity for as long as you need it. Reveal information as the situation dictates, but take things at a reasonable pace. Do not give out too much personal information (for instance your address) and do not post photos of your children—especially if you are a single mom. It is very easy to get caught up in a fantasy, make sure that you separate wishful dreams from reality.