We don’t like to be too motherly, but we genuinely care about our daters, as well as those who have yet to join the FreeAndSingle fray. Scouring for love online can be electrifying, intimate and full of surprises – if you protect yourself, that is. Safe online dating is a prerequisite for getting the most out of the experience.
No-one wants romance to turn nasty, and a few precautions for a date are perfectly reasonable. To that end, follow these expert tips to stay out of danger and difficult circumstances:
1. Don’t be afraid to drag things out
It’s understandable that someone – especially if you really gel with them – might push for a meetup. The strings of desire form a burning instinct to see and feel a partner in our arms. You might easily rush down that road if the conversation’s been flowing well.
Despite this urge, remember to hang back until the time feels right. Dating expert James Preece (a FreeAndSingle favourite) asks us not to jump into a date “unless you’re absolutely sure you want to meet them. Instead,” he suggests, “talk on the phone for a while, to give you both a chance of knowing each other better.”
2. Stay connected
When you do arrange to meet, going in without ‘backup’, so to speak, is unwise. You should never be the only one (aside from your date) who knows where you are. Social media, or the lifeline of a mobile phone, can alleviate the risk of encountering someone for the first time.
“Tell a friend where you’ll be meeting, or tag yourself into Facebook when you arrive. Even better, get someone to call halfway through to make sure you’re okay, and to give you an ‘out’ if you need it,” says James. That last point is also useful for bypassing awkwardness if the date is a wet squib.
3. Refuse anything but a public place
No matter how nice his house looks on Skype, how great her tea-making skills are… don’t ever agree to a meeting somewhere you don’t know or trust implicitly. Public spots like a café or bar have become dating hangouts for a reason – you’re surrounded by the clatter of spoons in neutral territory, all of which make odd behaviour less likely.
And what if the odds are against you? James Preece suggests that “if you do go on a date, and something makes you feel uncomfortable, then get up and leave immediately. If they act strangely or inappropriately, then it’s just not worth it.”
9 times out of 10, the person you’re warming to will be exactly who they say they are. Yet just one mistake could result in disaster and a course of events you’ll regret. Luckily, safe online dating shouldn’t be too taxing with these guidelines at the back of your mind.
Put them into practice by joining FreeAndSingle – in just a few clicks, you could be well on your way to finding a new squeeze.
James Preece is an author, coach and regular keynote speaker on a variety of dating and relationship issues. Styled as the Dating Guru, he helps men and women work on their pickup skills.