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Tips & Warnings When Using Online Dating Services

We really care about our readers and want the best for you. We have provided for you some of our recommendations to keep online dating fun, easy, meaningful, and most of all safe. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Also see our article on dating and romance scams on the Internet.

Lisa Lawless
By Lisa S. Lawless, Ph.D.
Psychotherapist & Sexuality Expert

CEO & Founder of
Holistic Wisdom, Inc. & NAASAS

Copyright: Holistic Wisdom- Do NOT Copy Warning

Copyright © Holistic Wisdom, Inc.

Online Dating Safety Tips

1. Be a Skeptic

Here's a place where the old adage "Don't believe everything you read" most definitely applies. People lie online just as they do in real life. Areas to be particularly cautious about: Marital status and physical appearance. "Look at your own past experiences in meeting people," suggests Sharyn Wolf, author of Guerrilla Dating Tactics: Strategies, Tips and Secrets for Finding Romance (Plume/Penguin). "Have you generally had good judgment about people? If so, then you can rely on it here too. If not, proceed with caution, and perhaps turn to a friend to help you evaluate someone you've met online."

2. Use Tools Wisely

Some online personals sites allow you to send and receive email without using your real address. Take advantage of this option if you can. Then use email to get a sense of a person before you further the relationship. "Begin to (anonymously) email back and forth, and learn about the context this person operates in," suggests Wolf. "Where did he grow up? Where does she work? Who are his friends and family? How is she connected to the community in which she lives?" Learning about a person's connections with others is an important way to find out who they really are.

3. Ring My Bell

The phone reveals a lot about a person's social skills, and their ability to communicate spontaneously. But do it on your nickel; don't rush to give a stranger your phone number. Now that you're voice-to-voice, if not yet face-to-face, give yourself the opportunity to get a good feeling for what someone is like before you decide you'd like to meet. Better yet, video conference them through free online services such as Skype.

4. Resist the Hard Sell

If you are getting pressured to get together, that's probably a good sign that this is a person you want to steer clear of. Also, continue to keep your antennae up. If, as you are getting to know each other, anything seems off, bow out gracefully.

5. Separate Fantasy From Reality

If email has a downside, it's that it allows you to build up a false sense of intimacy with someone. "A person who writes great email is not necessarily a great person," points out Laura Banks, author of Love online (Career Press). No matter how wonderful your email correspondent may seem, try to keep some distance the minute you hear his or her voice, or meet in person, the whole thing may seem wrong. Don't allow your hopes about this person to obscure what you really feel.

6. Use Common Sense

When it is time to meet in the real world, use these hard and fast rules: Don't give out your home or office address; meet in a busy public place during daylight hours; use your own transportation to and from the date; tell a friend where and when you are going; and check in when you get back. There'll be plenty of time for moonlight walks later on!


Also see our article on dating and romance scams on the Internet.

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