I have encountered so many people who have been disappointed, ripped off or worse when dating online, that I drew up some guidelines for keepin yourself safe.
Dr. Romance’s guide to dating safely:
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* Be skeptical, not gullible. When you're meeting men online (it is not dating until it's face-to-face) you have no way of knowing who they are. There are documented cases of prisoners conning gullible women to send them money, marry them etc. online. Don't be afraid to ask for details, Google him, ask to talk to friends and family members, let him meet your friends. You need objective people to scope him out.
* Be realistic, not romantic. Don't develop a fantasy about the man until you know the facts. It's a tough world out there.
* Focus on friendship. Concentrate on developing the friendship. Romance follows later, after you've checked him out. *Don't tell him too much: Don't give away your address, home phone, work location until you know who he is. If you have children, protect them by being discreet.
* Pay attention to how he acts, what he says; seek to discover his character, don't fall for just looks and charm.
*Don't assume you're dating exclusively if you haven't discussed it.
*Don't rush into sex: Going slowly into sex reduces the risk of STDs; avoids the awkwardness of intimacy with a total stranger; stops codependent obsession; and makes sex more special. There's no advantage in rushing -- when sex is right, it will happen. If he leaves because you won't have sex right away, he'd have left anyway.
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*Don't get too self-conscious. The media focus on youth and fitness can make you feel insecure and unattractive. When you meet him, look your (appropriate) best, and then forget about it. Instead of worrying what your date thinks of you, focus on what you think of your date.