We consider safety to be very important for everyone online. There are a number of security and safety issues to consider when you are communicating online, whether it is instant messenger, in chat rooms, forums or through online dating sites.
I have had personal experience with online dating and with a few different online dating services. As well, I have extensive experience from being a moderator for a chat room. In actual fact, there were several chat rooms, one which discussed online relationships. I would like to pass on the information I gathered, the tales I heard and some conclusions I came to. Between these two enormous resources, my goal is to help you along the online dating highway.
A few things I saw or experienced, for example:
If you have had an experience like this we would love you to share it so others can learn. Confidentiality is guaranteed. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
While the profile you fill out will have your actual personal information, the 'name', or as it's called 'handle', that you use should not be your actual name. It could be a middle name, a name you like, or a fun name. Do not give out your real name until you feel very secure about the person you are connecting with.
Even if you feel the connection you have made is so terrific you can hardly wait to hear his/her voice, take a deep breath and wait. One way to hear each other is through instant messenger programs (remember to use your 'handle' here for your login name). If you have a web cam a lot of online dating memberships site use this feature now. So there you go, talk and see each other, safe and sound. That doesn't mean you will never give out your phone number. Just make sure you are completely comfortable with the person and that you know enough about them that they are not likely to start harassing you, by phone, should the relationship go sideways. I would also suggest giving out your cell number, if you have one, rather than your home number in the beginning.
At least the first time you meet a person should be in a public place. Meet at a coffee shop, restaurant, even a bar, but make sure there are lots of people around. If you find that the meeting is not going well, but your date is not about to let you go that easily, speak to a waitress or bartender, or even someone at a table beside you for help. This would be extreme, but do keep it in mind. It's best to drive there yourself and park a safe distance away just in case the person is not who you thought they were. Also, make sure you tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you expect to be home. That way, should anything go sideways, someone will be alerted to a problem. If the date goes well, do not ask them back to your home, at least, I recommend, not after the first date. However that is your decision to make. Remember you have lots of time and if they really care enough to get to know you they will understand the need to be careful.
The time has come and your 'new love' is coming over for drinks, dinner, movie, maybe all of them! At this point you will be feeling very secure about the person. Not so fast! At this point you are probably quite safe, but it is best to have some plans in place 'just in case'. Arrange for a friend to call you at a certain point in the date. You can just say you are busy, no need to chat. This first check is to allow you an out if it is not going well (too much to drink, hands wandering, has a temper you didn't see before, etc.). At the point that you expect the evening to be wrapping up, have a friend call (he/she will just think you must be very popular). The second check is to allow you to end the evening if needed and you have a good excuse ("oh 'my friend' is really upset and needs to talk") or any variation on the theme.
Now, if everything has gone well and you are both looking starry-eyed, sure enjoy the hugs and kisses. The decision to take it any further is a very personal one. Generally, it is not wise to make love too fast for a number of reasons, STD security is one. Best to know their history and be tested before you get to cozy. Yes there are other things you can do and other protections, but not all are 100% safe. Again you have to decide. If you are looking for a long term love relationship, waiting won't hurt.
Note: The above may sound like basic common sense, but when you are excited, especially with a new love interest, our common sense can go out the window. Been there/done that!! Hoping I can prevent you from doing it.
IF you have any concerns at all about the person you are communicating with talk to someone about it. Most of us have good instincts and will know when something is 'just not right'. Sometimes you may get a feeling but try to ignore it. We have found the security sites listings below will help you find out if your potential partner is who you think they are.
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