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10 Tips for
Online Dating Safety
- Start Slow. Watch out for someone who seems too good to be true.
Begin by first communicating solely via email. Be on the lookout for odd
behavior or inconsistencies. ďListenĒ to your correspondentís words. The
person at the other end may not be who or what he/she says. Trust your
instincts. If anything makes you uncomfortable, walk away for your own safety
- Guard Your Anonymity. All correspondence with GayCityMatchmaker
members done via MatchMail or via your own email program using your anonymous
username, does not reveal any personal contact information about you. Never
include your last name, real email address, personal Web site URL, home
address, phone number, place of work, or any other identifying information in
your profile or initial emails you exchange with other members. Make sure your
email signature file is turned off, or does not include identifying
information, when corresponding with a GayCityMatchmaker member via your own
email. Stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for this information
or attempts in any way to trick you into revealing it. Take all the time you
need to become comfortable with someone before revealing any person contact
information. Ask questions and make sure you are satisfied with the answers.
Trust your instincts, move cautiously and be selective.
- Exercise Caution and Common Sense. Careful, well-thought decisions
generally lead to better results in dating, and this is certainly true with
online dating too. Guard against trusting the untrustworthy. Any suitor must
earn your trust gradually, through consistently honorable, forthright
behavior. Your job is to take all the time you need to test for a trustworthy
person, and pay careful attention along the way. Take a relatively
conservative approach to trusting anyone you meet online. If you think someone
is lying, it is likely that they are, so act accordingly. Move on to someone
you can eventually trust. Conduct yourself and your romances in a responsible
manner. Donít fall in love at the click of a mouse. Donít become prematurely
intimate with someone, even if that intimacy only occurs online.
- Request a Photo. A photo will give you a good idea of the person's
appearance, which may prove helpful in achieving a gut feeling about your
correspondent. In fact, itís best to view several images of this person in a
variety of settings: casual, formal, indoor, outdoors. If he or she
continuously comes up with an excuse, it may be because that person has
something to hide. Getting a photo scanned is less than ten dollars at
Kinkoís, so there is little excuse for not doing it.
- Talk Via Telephone. A phone call can reveal much about a personís
communication and social skills. It is worth the cost of the call to protect
your security. But do not give out your personal phone number to a stranger.
Try a cell phone number instead for added security. Or make arrangements to
call from a pay phone. Only when you feel completely comfortable should you
furnish your phone number.
- Meet When YOU Are Ready. The beauty of meeting and relating online
is that you can gradually collect information and then make a choice about
pursuing the relationship in the real world. You are never obligated to meet
anyone, regardless of your level of online intimacy. And even if you do decide
to arrange a meeting, you always have the right to change your mind. Itís
possible that your decision to keep the relationship at the anonymous level is
based on a hunch that you canít logically explain. Trust yourself. Go with
your gut instincts, even when they canít be logically explained. Never meet
someone who argues against your instincts, finds logical flaws with your
feelings or pressures you in any way.
- Watch for Red Flags. Pay attention to any displays of anger,
intense frustration or attempts at pressuring or controlling you. Acting in a
passive-aggressive manner, making demeaning or disrespectful comments or any
physically inappropriate behavior are all red flags. You should also be
concerned if your date exhibits any of the following conduct without providing
an acceptable explanation:
- Provides inconsistent information about age, interests, appearance,
marital status, profession, employment, etc.
- Refuses to speak to you on the phone after establishing ongoing, online
- Fails to provide direct answers to direct questions.
- Appears in person to be significantly different from his or her online
- Never introduces you to friends, professional associates or family
- Select the Safest Possible Environment. When you make the choice to
meet offline, always tell someone where you are going and when you will
return. Leave your dateís name and telephone number with that person. Never
arrange for your date to pick you up at home. Provide your own transportation,
meet in a public place at a time when many people are present, and when the
date is over, leave on your own as well. A familiar restaurant or coffee shop,
at a time when a lot of other people will be present is often a fine choice.
Avoid hikes, bike rides or drives in remote areas for the first few dates. If
you decide to move to another location, take your own car. When the timing is
appropriate, thank your date for getting together and say goodbye.
- Take Extra Caution Outside Your Area. If you are flying in from
another area, arrange for your own car and a hotel room. Do not disclose the
name of your hotel and never allow your date to make the arrangements for you.
Rent a car at the airport and drive directly to your hotel. Call your date
from the hotel or meet at the location you have already agreed to. If the
location seems inappropriate or unsafe, go back to your hotel. Try to contact
your date at that location, or leave a message on a home machine. Always make
sure a friend or family member knows your plans and has your contact
information. And if possible, carry a cell phone at all times.
- Get Yourself Out of a Jam. Never do anything you feel unsure about.
If you are in any way afraid of your date, use your best judgment to diffuse
the situation and get out of there. Excuse yourself long enough to call a
friend for advice, ask someone else on the scene for help, or slip out the
back door and drive away. If you feel you are in danger call the police. Itís
always better to be safe than sorry. Never worry or feel embarrassed about
your behavior. Your safety is much more important than one personís opinion of
While liars, cheaters and imposters certainly ply their craft on the Web, youíll
also find them in nightclubs, among the membership ranks of off-line dating
services, at cocktail parties, and occasionally sitting across from you at your
local cafť. Regardless of where, or how, you meet someone, dating is never a
risk-free activity. A little caution will reduce your risk in these matters of
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