Staying Safe When Online Dating

Love, Self

With online dating becoming more popular, so do the risks. We'll show you how to stay safe.

Today, online dating is one of the more common ways of meeting a new guy. It is becoming so common that more than 40% of single men and women have set up online dating profiles and have used this method to meet someone new. With new dating methods and technology comes the need to protect yourself. You need to know who is out there so you know who may be right for you – and who you should stay away from.

Different Types of Guys on Dating Sites

Just as in the 3-D world, you’re going to meet several different types of men online. Each one has his own reasons for joining a dating site. Some of these types are safe, but you’ll need to be on the lookout for the type of man to steer clear of:

  • Testing the waters: This man fantasizes, but doesn’t do much more. He says he wants a relationship, but is blocked by fears and anxieties about his ability to maintain a positive relationship. When he connects with you online, it may not ever progress to an actual face-to-face meeting, and, for where he is emotionally, that may be enough for him.
  • Getting over a bad breakup: He may – or may not – be open to a new relationship. If he tells you he’s getting over a bad breakup, be ready for him to avoid a commitment as he heals emotionally. On the other hand, because he has been in love in the past, he may be able to open himself up to that risk again.
  • Not available: He is already in a committed relationship, but is still looking around. He uses online dating as a way of experiencing what he’s not getting in his relationship. (A good friend dated a man who was dating three women simultaneously – and keeping knowledge of each woman from the other. That didn’t end well – for the man.)
  • Potentially dangerous predator: This is the man to avoid. He doesn’t like women in general and, in meeting them, he looks for ways to control them. His tendencies won’t always be immediately obvious. As soon as you get a sense of his true nature, extract yourself and notify the dating site so administrators or moderators can ban him.

Identity Protection

While you are not very likely to meet anyone dangerous, you should still do everything you can to protect yourself and your identity. Don’t give out your last name, address, phone number or financial information to a virtual stranger.

The men you are meeting online are likely to be doing the same thing to protect themselves. Women can be just as dangerous as men, and the male site members know this. When you decide to exchange phone numbers, give him your cell phone’s number only. Keep your home and work numbers private.

Keep Your Expectations Low

While you are anticipating meeting your forever love, be aware that you may meet a few clunkers at first. Some men (and women) lie on their profiles. While their bios say they are looking for love, they may actually be looking for sexual opportunities instead.

If you go out with a guy who says he’ll call, then doesn’t, don’t get discouraged. He may be “just looking around.” Move onto the next opportunity.

Move Slowly

Take time to get to know the guys you are meeting. If you feel it’s time to meet in person, resist that little urge and wait for a week or two. Spend more time online or on the phone chatting before you actually meet him face-to-face.

When you’re talking on the phone, use these conversations as a way of getting to see just how well you get along. This also gives you a better chance to suss out inconsistencies that could doom a potential relationship.

Look for Red Flags

Pay close attention to red-flag behaviors. Online, he can hide behaviors, beliefs or morals fairly easily. When it comes to talking on the phone or meeting in person, this is much more difficult. If he makes demeaning comments or avoids answering questions, you need to consider these carefully and get away.

Follow Your Gut

If you become aware of any disconnect in what a guy says or does and it troubles you, listen to your instincts. If he is vague about certain personal details or you can’t contact him directly, you need to consider these and other signals.

If he consistently breaks dates, telling you that “something suddenly came up,” this is a huge red flag for you to think about.

Most importantly, if a new man is persistently pushing for a fast commitment, he may be clueless about how relationships work – or he could be a potential abuser.

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