Online dating can be fun. It’s a great way to put yourself out there, meet new people, and find a potential mate.
Unfortunately, it can also be a little scary or dangerous when you don’t adhere to proper online dating safety rules. Your safety is the number one most important thing to keep in mind, at all times.
Here are 10 online dating tips I swear by:
Now, I have met my share of men online, and there are a few rules to follow when it comes to meeting in person. I didn’t just make up these rules — they came from mistakes made and lessons learned.
1. Always meet in public.
This is number one and I cannot stress it enough.
No matter how great he sounds, insist on meeting in public for your initial meeting, and even your second or third meeting. Pick a place you’re familiar with in a well-traveled neighborhood or place, like a mall, so if there’s a problem, there are a lot of people around and you can get home safely.
You can always ask a friend to come with you and sit at another table if you don’t feel safe going alone.
2. Take your own transportation.
If a problem arises, you can get yourself out of there safely in your own car.
If you don’t drive, create an alternate plan before you meet — bringing a cab fare or arranging a ride. The last place you want to be is in the car of someone you don’t know.
3. Talk on the phone several times before meeting.
I like to talk to a guy at least 4 times before we plan to meet for the first time.
Why? Talking to someone on the phone is a whole lot different than emailing, texting, or IMing someone. It’s kind of like “proof” that they are a real person and not someone with a fake online profile.
It’s a red flag if someone who says they want to meet you won’t give you their phone number, or says they can’t be reached by phone. Texting is still important, though, since communicating in various ways is key to developing a new relationship.
4. Always disclose your location to a friend.
Tell someone where you’re going and who you’re going with. You might also want to give them his/her phone number, too.
This should be self-explanatory. If you don’t have someone you can trust with this information, at least send yourself an email with this information — worst-case scenario, you know?
5. Keep your first meeting casual.
This has more to do with comfort than safety.
Meeting someone in person that you initially met online can be nerve-wracking, and agreeing to something casual is a great way to take some of the pressure off. Coffee is always a great option since it’s public, cheaper than dinner, and there’s little stress or expectations. Meeting during the day is also safer.
Never meet at a bar or club for your initial meeting; it’s too loud to talk and there are so many other risks that you don’t want to take.
6. Your first meeting shouldn’t count as a first date.
This is just the two of you meeting for the first time.
It might have all the signs of a date, but it’s not. This is a time when you want to make sure that “what you saw was what you got,” and that this person is truly interested in getting to know you.
It also takes away some of those first-date jitters by knowing this isn’t really a date.
7. Make a good impression.
Remember all of your dating rules, mind your manners, and even though it’s casual, put a little effort into your look.
I decided to make my first meetings casual because I got tired of getting all dressed up for someone who either didn’t show up or was otherwise disappointing. I wear jeans, a cute top, and a little makeup, which is a step up from grocery shopping, but not exactly a girls’ night out.
8. Listen to your gut.
If something doesn’t seem right before you meet, don’t do it.
There’s nothing that says that just because you agreed to meet, you actually have to go through with it. You have instincts for a reason.
Related Stories From YourTango:
9. Never travel more than 50 miles to meet someone.
So, 50 is an arbitrary number, but there are hundreds of stories of meeting someone from out-of-state with promises of love and happiness, only to end up without a way home after a bad initial meeting.
If you absolutely must meet someone that lives far from you, both of you should agree to make a vacation out of it. This means each of you brings a friend or two and meets at a vacation spot you both would like to go to.
For example, if you live in Los Angeles and he lives in Dallas, maybe you could meet in Las Vegas. But a good suggestion is to list that you will only date someone local to you, especially if you don’t like long-distance relationships.
10. Don’t be afraid to have fun.
The world of online dating can be treacherous, but there are plenty of good, real men and women out there who are looking to meet someone.
As long as you have been communicating with someone, there’s no reason you shouldn’t let your guard down a little and have fun meeting someone that may evolve into a new relationship.
Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango but is choosing to remain anonymous.