If you’re hesitating about trying online dating because of some horror story you read (argh those scamming catfishers!), don’t let anxiety prevent you from seeking romance. With a few simple tips and tricks and a bit of thought you can be dating safely online in no time!
- Choose a reputable site…
If you’re not sure which website to use, try asking a few friends who have dated online for recommendations. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rather fly-by-night services out there so this is not an occasion to trust Google. Two sites we’ve heard good things about include Match.com and eHarmony, although the latter is famous for ridiculously long questionnaires (3hrs of questions to sign up!).
…Because smaller sites can steal your details
Avoid little known specialty-niche websites. These may seem like a good idea at first, being cheaper and promising to pair you with someone who shares your interests or is from the same age group. But many of these specialty sites reveal a darker secret.
Website developers pay for access to a huge database of daters and build their own front-end dating website to attract a specific demographic group eg red haired people, firemen etc. (this process is known as white labeling).. People who sign up for these websites often find themselves getting messages from others who signed up for an entirely different website.
I first discovered this scam practice when I came across girls who thought they had signed up to a normal dating site, but were getting weird messages because their profiles were being shown on tacky sexual dating sites, without their permission.
- Use discretion in creating your personal profile.
Once you have chosen a site, you’ll have to create a profile. Go ahead and write a bright, sparkling profile which reveals you for the charming creature you know yourself to be. But be aware that not only Mr. or Ms. Perfect-For-You will read this, so might potential stalkers. Take some time to consider both your words and which images of yourself you use.Don’t reveal any information that would enable someone to deduce your address or workplace. You might also want to avoid using a picture which gives away too much information, such as you wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of your university.If you need some tips on what to say, read my article about how to create an amazing profile
- Don’t take things too quickly.
Exchange at least a couple of messages back and forth on the dating site before giving out your e-mail address, phone number or Skype information. This will give you time to observe your potential date’s social skills. If she or he seems overly impulsive, you might want to nip things in the bud rather than proceeding any further. Some people set up a separate disposable e-mail address solely for online suitors. That way, if someone becomes too persistent in their attentions to you, you can just abandon the temporary e-mail address.After the potential object of your affections has displayed the ability to write intelligent e-mails, move on to phone conversations and/or video chat. If you have any reason to suspect that his/her profile includes a fake or out-of-date photo, the latter means of communication enables you to verify the identity.
- Catfishers, fake profiles and scammers.
Internet dating fraud situations most often occur when hundreds or thousands of miles separate the victim and the fake persona created by a con artist so try to avoid long distance people. If you haven’t already seen the television show Catfish, see if you can find a clip of it online to learn about this kind of deceptionn.One way to avoid catfishers is to do a reverse google image search for their profile picture. If you see lots of results coming up you have found something dodgy!Another great way to avoid fake profiles is to use a reputable dating site like match.com who do their best to remove all fake people and profile
- Do a little bit of online detective work.
Companies often review a job candidate’s social media profiles before making a job offer. There’s nothing wrong with something similar before embarking on a romance with the man or woman you met online.If his Facebook profile reveals he’s still married to the woman he describes as an ex, you can bow out before you become “the other woman.” If her Twitter timeline includes racist jokes, you can spare yourself future social awkwardness by not pursuing the relationship. Naturally, there are limits to this kind of activity. You don’t want to turn into a stalker. But looking up public information about a potential boyfriend/girlfriend can help you weed out unsuitable candidates for your affection.
- Money = red flag.
You may think it can’t happen to you, but everyone who has ever been conned used to think that, too. Most of us can become a bit too trusting when our hearts and/or hormones are on the line. No matter how sincere the person seems, no matter how attractive she/he appears, head for the door if there’s a story about needing anything more than cabfare. Similarly, be suspicious of anyone who offers you expensive gifts like airfare to a foreign country.
- The first in-person meeting should always be in a public place.
Even if you’re excited to have met someone who shares your passion for hiking, it is never wise to meet a stranger alone in the woods. Usually it is best to meet for coffee the first time. This permits you to leave after a brief conversation if the person who seemed so attractive in e-mails behaves a bit strangely face-to-face.
Finally then, don’t be too worried, if you use a legitimate dating site, and follow these tips and use a bit of common sense then you will be fine. So get out there and start safely enjoying the world of internet dating!