Dr. Romance answers a question from a reader on how to use dating services safely.
Dear Dr. Romance:
How can one be sure that a person they met through a dating service is not disturbed in any way?
What type of safety precautions can one take?
Love has a much better chance to be realized if you make some of your choices mentally, as well as by emotional attachment and chemistry. Choose commitments both with the "parent" or judgmental, evaluating, critical thinking method; and the "child" or romantic, turned on, chemistry method. I call this choosing from the neck up, as well as from the neck down. You'll use better judgment if you think of matchmaking for yourself. You can think like a matchmaker (or a hard- to-please parent), when considering commitment. The Mirriam -Webster Online Dictionary defines judgment as "the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing." Take time out from your excitement and evaluate your match, using the components of judgement: think, observe, evaluate, ask, remember, experiment, speculate and empathize. "You Be the Judge"
Dr. Romance’s guide to dating safely:
* Be skeptical, not gullible. When you're meeting dates online (it is not dating until it's face-to-face) you have no way of knowing who they are. Don't be afraid to ask for details, Google your date, ask to talk to friends and family members, let your date meet your friends. You need objective people to scope a new person out. Best of all, use a reputable site, like LoveFilter that screens candidates.
* Be realistic, not romantic. Don't develop a fantasy about anew date 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 done your research. *Don't tell a new acquaintance too much: Don't give away your address, home phone, work location until you know who you're dealing with . If you have children, protect them by being discreet.
* Pay attention to behavior, as well as words; seek to discover 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 a date leaves because you won't have sex right away, there was no possibility of a relationship anyway.
*Don't get too self-conscious. The media focus on youth and fitness can make you feel insecure and unattractive. When you meet, 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.