Safe online dating

A gal pal said she was afraid to date online because of safety issues. It’s true that online you don’t know much about the guy. But that is true if you meet him in a store, bar, on a singles hike or dance. So there are some precautions you take no matter where you meet someone, but especially with online connections.

  • Set up an email address that doesn’t include your name. You can set up free email accounts through Yahoo!, Google, Hotmail and others. Make sure you don’t put your name in the “from,” just your handle. The reason you don’t want to put your name in the “from” is someone can easily Google you and in some cases, find out where you live or work, go to church, or frequent other places if there is a posting with your name on a web site. I’ve found out where guys worked and lived, complete with a map to both, by a little Google sleuthing.
  • Only give your cell phone number. Did you know that someone can find your home address and map if you give them a listed landline number? So if you give him your number, only give your cell. And to be even safer, take his number but don’t give him yours.
  • Only meet him in public places for the first few dates. When I’ve made exceptions to this rule, I’ve been sorry. Not because of safety concerns, but because it is harder to extricate yourself from an uncomfortable situation or send him home if things get too personal. So now I only meet him in a public place for the first few dates.
  • Don’t get in the car with him on the first date. He may seem fine at first, but you are totally at his mercy when you are in his car. Always take your own car, no matter how nice he seems. If he pressures you or tries to make you feel silly for wanting to have your own car, you know it’s time to leave. Same with him wanting you to drive him somewhere. Don’t do it, no matter how trustworthy he seems. Ninety-nine percent of the time it will be fine, but you don’t want to worry about that 1 percent that creates a problem.
  • Ask about him at places he frequents. I learned a potential suitor worked at a company where another friend worked. After we set up a lunch date, I called my friend. She said she thought he was married. She checked around and found out that yes, he was. I cancelled the date. Another guy attended the same Rotary as a friend of mine. I asked her about him and she said he was a good guy. Had she said anything negative, I would have rethought if I wanted to meet him. If I did, at least I would know my friend’s take on him.

While the above seem common sense, I’ve ignored each one. Now I don’t. Not that I’ve been in any dangerous situations, but I’ve realized I could have been. So keep your guard up for the first few dates. Even after that, someone could turn out strange, but I find most guys are on their best behavior for the first few dates, then their true nature begins to come out. So don’t make exceptions to the above until you are pretty confident he is a good guy.