Online dating: Tips for keeping yourself safe

The dating world is a fast paced place. One moment there are certain rules to follow and then as little as a few weeks later, things have changed. Keeping up on all the dos and don'ts when dating online can make your head spin. Safety is always the most important step to take, especially since you won't know the other person right away. These are some tips for meeting someone offline and keeping your information as private as possible.

Use contacts that are not your "main"

If you are dating online via websites or personal ads, it is always best that you use an alias instead of your real name. When filling out the profile and questionnaire, make sure you have a separate email account. This will prevent your personal email address from being hacked and chaos occurring. I would also suggest using a prepaid cell phone as your contact number when meeting people or setting up dates with the men. This may even be a good idea for men that approach you for your number in a bar. Keeping as much of your personal information to yourself will help prevent a possible stalker, or harassment from someone you don't want in your life.

Take a friend with you on the first date

After deciding to meet someone offline, make it a group date. Offer to do something like karaoke that would allow more than just two people to attend. I actually tagged along on a few dates like this when one of my best friends was using a reputable dating site. I was quite impressed with the men they matched her with and didn't feel like there was much need for me to accompany her. When she branched off to meeting men from the personals, it was a whole different world. It was not only creepy, but completely eye-opening. Safety is always the best option. Even if you don't feel like you need a chaperone, take one anyway. At the very least you will be able to analyze this guy with someone you truly care about!

Check him out

Now this may seem a little over the top, but you cannot be too careful when meeting strangers. Once you know his name, try and search him on Google. The net offers a ton of important information about people. Things like criminal records, Facebook pages, comments made on forums, and even tweets are found in the Google feed. So many people forget that everything done online can be traced, and most of the time their true character shines through. I suggest this to friends a lot, especially when they are using non-traditional dating methods. When I began dating my current boyfriend, I researched a little about him. There was not much to find as he is more into gaming than social networking. The few things I did find weren't any cause for red flags, so I went ahead and met with him.

There are so many horror stories that you hear about online dating. From women getting murdered after agreeing to meet men from Craigslist to women that have completely vanished, the bad will always be told before the good. Make sure to protect yourself as much as possible, and always be choosy about what personal information you share.

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