Safety Rules For Online Dating

Want to keep things safe and fun when looking for The One? Follow these simple strategies to do just that.

By Seena Brown

o matter how we meet the people we end up dating, many of us will wonder a bit about safety. Online dating is no exception—in fact, the idea that you can share personal info with someone before you’ve met face-to-face can even exacerbate those worries. Never fear, though, experts say that online dating is as safe as any other method for meeting potential partners. Just follow these sensible strategies to make your dating life as safe, secure, and fun as you want it to be!

Stay-safe strategy #1: Talk on the phone a few times before arranging a meeting
Rather than falling head-over-heels for a profile and setting up a date,
“Spending time on the phone first isn’t a waste of time—it’s an investment.”
take your time. This will allow you to get a read on the person before you meet, according to Evan Marc Katz, CEO of and author of I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Commonsense Guide To Successful Internet Dating. “Many online daters get into a mindset of not wanting to spend too much time on the phone—they look at it as a waste of time,” he explains. “But it’s really an investment. You’re figuring out if this is someone you really want to meet.” If you pick up inconsistencies in their story or get a weird vibe during or after the call, don’t ignore it—take it as a sign that you two might not be a perfect match and move on. If you suspect someone is lying, he or she probably is, so act accordingly.

Stay-safe strategy #2: Meet in a public place
Regardless of where you met someone (online or in line at the bank), don’t accept an invitation to dinner at his or her place… nor should you be planning a wilderness hike as your first rendezvous. Being in such solitary spots with an almost stranger won’t be relaxing. A safer bet, says Dave Evans, director of Online Dating and Discovery Research Advisory Service, is to meet in a place where other people are present, like a café, bar or restaurant. Don’t get picked up at home; always provide your own transportation to and from your meeting place. As an added safeguard, tell a friend where you are going and when you will return, and leave your date’s name and phone number with your friend.

Stay-safe strategy #3: Don’t disclose too much personal info
Here’s another bit of advice that holds true whether you’re chatting with someone you just met online or in a bar: Don’t spill your entire life story. For example, feel free to tell your date what you do for a living, but there’s no need to divulge the name of the company where you work or which gym you belong to and when you usually go. If you date asks you something you don’t feel ready to share, just say, “I don’t usually tell people that until I know them better”—by establishing this is your policy across the board, your date won’t take it personally.

Stay-safe strategy #4: Call the shots
Remember that you are in control. You get to decide how much information to collect about a person—and when (if at all) you feel comfortable meeting someone offline. You’re
Don’t accept a dinner invitation to his or her place yet.
never obligated to get together with anyone for a date, no matter how many emails you’ve exchanged. If for any reason you sense a red flag — say, the person you’re communicating with gives you inconsistent information, falls in and out of communication, or makes inappropriate remarks — then you can (and should) put the brakes on. And if you’re wondering what an inappropriate remark is, you’ll know it when you hear it: It’ll give you pause due to it’s being angry, disrespectful, too personal or overly sexual—or just plain beyond the usual boundaries of conversation. Let your instinct guide you.

Stay-safe strategy #5: Use your best judgment
Now that all this has been said, let’s pull back for a second. “Be safe, but not so paranoid that your worries are like a black cloud hanging over your date,” advises Katz. In his own online dating experiences, he’s encountered women who wouldn’t even tell him their first name—which, in his mind, is taking things a bit too far. “When you’re a nice guy and you’re treated like a criminal, it can be a bit off-putting,” he says. “Safety guidelines exist for a good reason, but you need to view each date on a case-by-case basis, and don’t let paranoia rule your experience.” Remember, getting involved with someone online is no more dangerous than meeting them any other way, and you should take some basic precautions in any dating situation. The benefits aren’t just your well-being, but increased comfort levels and confidence—qualities that always come in handy.

During her single days, Seena Brown used to routinely check a guy’s ID before she’d give him her digits.
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