This is the first of two parts of recommendations for safer online dating. I wrote the original article (http://www.candidslice.com/16-must-have-survival-tips-for-online-dating/) for Candid Slice based on, my own online dating experiences and the recommendations of another friend. The second half will be about safety on the first date. I hope you find these nuggets helpful. (Thank you Bob Leah of Candid Slice for the photos!)
Online dating could be scary business, if you don’t use some safety tips. Face it, in reality you really can’t know the person from one or even two messages or meetings. These are some helpful hints from my experience and from a friend’s advice from her online experience in dating. She now has a wonderful man in her life.
1. Know what you are looking for in a date. Are you looking for companionship, for a date, a party partner, or that special “Mr(s). Right?” Clarify to yourself what your intentions are.
2. Take your time!! Do you know the qualities you would like in a potential date? Do not be desperate or show signs of being dependent. These behaviors will mark you as an easy victim for some stalker or abuser. If someone is meant to be your new date, they will be willing to wait for you. The best match for you is worth waiting for!! Take it slow!!
3. Get recommendations for the best online dating site! Most sites have questions that help the service’s computer find the person most closely matched to your personality and interests. Answer as many questions as you feel comfortable with. One site asked lots of questions about everything from sexual adventures to what bothers you. Even though someone may answer lots of questions, be aware that they may not answer them honestly.
If you do contact them, you may even indirectly ask them about their answers to verify they are being truthful. I found that some men let me know they were interested but had not bothered to answer one question!! In my opinion if I spend the time to fill out a lot of questions for them, then they should too.
It takes time to answer even twenty questions so check back on the ones you are interested in, in case they just didn’t have time to fill them in at the start. If someone has no questions answered, don’t even go there!
4. Look for the picture of the “candidate.” If someone doesn’t have a picture, they may be afraid, might not photograph well or they may want to remain anonymous. Almost everyone has a cellphone camera or at least a friend with one. I say if you don’t have enough confidence to put your picture up, or even one that a friend recommended, then you might have some serious confidence or self esteem problems. They are less likely to be a good prospect, unless you like playing Russian Roulette. Of course, candidates use the picture of someone else. So again, be wary.
I corresponded with a man who was a little older than I. He shared poetry from his college days about a girl he fell in love with. He was interested in literature, and seemed very nice. After corresponding with him we agreed to meet at a restaurant. I looked for the man in the picture but finally saw a man, who was at least ten years older than the picture. He had not been honest about his appearance. But I greeted him with a quick hug, but was a bit shaken when the quick hug turned into a bit longer embrace than I intended!
Another point is for you to post a good picture of yourself too. He also seemed awkward about ordering food at a counter and made some comment about it was good that he had taken a shower that morning!
5. Don’t start you message with pick-up lines. Don’t start your first message with, “Hello Gorgeous/Handsome.” It is a “pick up” line as old as the hills! If one is looking at my picture, they are only seeing my physical appearance. I would like to know that they read my survey by commenting on my qualities they found interesting or intelligent. (My survey answers and profile are there for a reason!) Hopefully my information weeds out the ones I really wouldn’t want to date. Just be sure their intents are the same as yours.
6. Do not ever give your phone number to a stranger, no matter how good they sound! In your profile, don’t give away personal information. If you must give your name, only use your first name or a nickname. Don’t give the name of your town, your address, nor the business you work for. People can google any bit of information you give them and find out where you live. Some dating sites have a way of communicating privately without giving up your phone number until you are ready.
Message back and forth on an email site you don’t use much or one you use just for dating services. If the other person thinks messaging is a waste of time or boring, tell them that you feel safer getting to know them better first before you meet them. If they don’t like it, then drop them. You and your safety are more important than their personal entertainment! You are not in a hurry!
7. Don’t lead someone on. If you connect with someone and find that you don’t like them or are not really interested in them after a few messages, be honest. Just say’ “I am not feeling a connection with you.” No details, no harm. Just pure honesty. No one likes to be told you will call them in two days and be left waiting. Honesty hurts but a lot less than lies.
8. Narrow the field of candidates! In your profile you can weed out the guys who are not a good match for you by posting things that would turn off the person you wouldn’t want to date anyway. Be honest about the person you are, yet leave some things unsaid, until you have met them and feel absolutely comfortable with them. It may take time but the wait will be worth it when you do find the person who is just right for you. I posted that I liked cats and did not enjoy sports. That weeded out a few guys.
9. Did they read your profile and some of your answers? If the first thing they want to do is meet you, and your profile indicated that you want to message back and forth first, then that person very likely didn’t read your profile or didn’t care what you wanted.
If you state you are interested in a person who is less than 30 miles from your home and someone from Texas writes you, they did not read your profile. Don’t bother with them, they probably just liked your picture. I got requests from a 30-year-old man in Europe!! And I am no spring chicken!
10. Listen to your gut feeling! If someone doesn’t sound right or you get a bad feeling from their profile or picture, do not even answer them. You are wasting your time and theirs. If you send them a refusal, they may want to know why you didn’t want to date them. Just drop them or decline their request. My experienced friend told me this. It seems cold but in the big picture, it’s better.