Online Dating, or Internet dating, is a system which allows individuals to get to know each other over the Internet through online communication such as email and instant messaging. The following are some tips to keep in mind if you plan on surfing the 'Net to find your soul mate:
1. Trust Your Gut Instinct
Your instinct is a powerful medium for knowing when something doesn't feel right. It is also a great way to measure when to move forward with someone and when to turn and run. As you read profiles, responses to emails, have phone conversations, and meet in person your instincts help tell you if something is "right" or if something is out of alignment. The "out of alignment" message is your cue to be careful, back off, or proceed with extreme caution. Trust your gut instinct, it's the most powerful psychological tool you have at your disposal.
2. Don't Provide Personal Information Too Soon
Your home phone number and full name provide easy ways to track who you are and where you live. Armed with just your home phone number, a person can easily gain access to your income information, home address, and even learn the value of your home. Armed with your first and last name, a person can do searches to determine quite a bit of information on you - where you work, what you do, and even what your home phone number is. So in the initial stages of communication, guard your personal information. As far as phone communication, see the next tip.
3. Use a Free Email Account
If you decide to move your communication from the anonymous email feature provided by the majority of online dating services then provide an email address that isn't your regular one. Sign up for a free Yahoo!, Hotmail, or Gmail account that you use just for online dating. Don't put your full name in the From field - only your first name or something else. This protects you from a person being able to search your normal email address to find out more information about you.
4. Use a Cell Phone or Anonymous Phone Service to Chat
When it's time to move your communication to the next level (talking on the phone), never give out your home phone number. Either provide a cell phone number, use Skype to communicate, or use an anonymous phone service. It's just an added protection barrier until you get to know the person better.
5. Beware of Married People
It's unfortunate, but a lot of married people do use online dating services. They'll even go as far as to meet people. A few years ago, MSNBC reported that a study found that up to 30% of people using online dating services are married!
6. Look for Questionable Characteristics in Your Communication
As you chat via email and on the phone you may be able to start to pick out characteristics of the other person. Are they controlling? Do they seem to anger easily? Do they avoid some of your questions? These can be questionable characteristics that tell you it's time to move on.
7. Ask for a Recent Photo
There's nothing wrong in asking someone if their photos are recent. If they don't have a photo, request a recent one. It's important for you to get a good look at the person you may eventually meet. Plus your instincts from your communications and their photos may provide you with valuable insight into the person. Plus, if they tell you the photo is recent and you meet and see a major difference, then you'll know the person lied and can cut the date short. If a person lies about their photo or profile then that is a red flag to no longer pursue the relationship.
8. Stick With Paid Online Dating Services
Free online dating services provide a greater opportunity for potentially dangerous individuals. They don't ever have to provide a credit card or other information that identifies them. There is some truth to the saying, "you get what you pay for".
9. Don't Get a False Sense of Security
Some online dating services claim to offer "background checks" and when signing up for such a service you may find it easier to let your guard down. Don't. Laws differ from state-to-state when it comes to background checks and there are even several states where checks can't be effectively performed. Because of the inconsistency, criminals/wrong doers can and do get into services that do "background checks". Never let your guard down.
10. Meet in a Public Place for Your First Meeting
When it's time to schedule that first exciting face-to-face meeting, arrange to meet in a public place and provide your own transportation. Your initial meeting will tell you a lot about the other person, including whether or not he/she lied in their profile. Your gut instincts will kick in. Never accept an offer to be picked up at your house. Make sure that a friend knows where you are at and who you are with.