Cyber dating has become one of the most popular tools available today for people of all ages. With over 1 million online dating sites throughout the world, some run by well establish dating companies and others unmonitored, usually user driven sites, it’s important that you know a few safety precautions before you move from online to off-line dating. The PIX “Know Your Enemy” team has a few tips that could be the difference between a pleasant and a horrible dating experience.
How many times have you been in a bar/club and given your telephone number to someone you know very little about? On the other side of the coin online dating has some advantages over conventional dating because tt provides convenient and wide access to potential partners, especially for those who lack such access. Remember, there are always risks in dating, especially when you date strangers, blind dates, first dates and cyber dates.
Cyber dating is different from other first dates, when you first meet a cyber date in person off-line you feel as though you know them and the normal first date precautions are often tossed into the wind. You already know their favorite songs, there favorite travel spots, you know everything that they told you but they may not be telling you the truth. You do not really know them so treat them as strangers. Use all the normal precautions you use with strangers, and remember you should not give any more information to a first date than you would to a stranger you meet on a plane or a club or at a party.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this but in my opinion and also talking to friends who go online to date, that the majority feel men tend to lie about their income, their level of baldness, and their athletic condition. Women on the other hand lie about their weight or age and teenagers pretend to be older than they are. The one rule you can rely on is that everyone lies a little so keep an open mind when conducting cyber dating online.
Oh, one other thing, remember that photo they sent you, it may be five years old and doctored up from a graphics program from when they used to be thin or when they had hair or it could be someone else’s picture.
Here are some tips on how to stay safe when cyber dating and going from online to off line (the meet)
1. Before you go from online to offline, you should get more information. Find out who your date is. Ask for your date’s first name and last name. Ask where they work and live, what they like and do not like. Ask around if anyone knows the person. Always share your plans a friend or relative (or both) who can follow up on your safety. Let them know who you are meeting, where you are meeting, when you are meeting and when you plan to return. Make sure your date knows you are spreading the word about them.
2. Keep a cell phone with you at all times. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and take a charger with you for long distance travel. Do not carry large amounts of cash. If you go home with someone, remember to protect your valuables. If you bring someone home, don’t leave your wallet, pocketbook or valuables in sight.
3. Always be aware of your surroundings, if at a party, mix your own drinks and never leave drinks unattended. Getting drunk or being slipped a drug happens all too often. If you go out with a new person, drink in moderation or not at all. If you need to leave for any reason without your drink, (to go to the bathroom, for example) ask for a fresh drink when you return.
4. Consider “double-dating” or taking someone with you for your first offline date. Double-dating can take a lot of the fear out of your first offline encounter.
If double-dating is not an option, consider having someone accompany you and then leave after meeting your date. Add another layer of safety by having that person pick you up at an allocated time. If you cannot double-date or have someone accompany you, you can ask someone to observe discreetly from a distance without intruding on your date.
Finally, and most importantly, if you are going to engage in any sexual activity, ask about your date’s health status. Find out their HIV and STD status. Also remember that not everyone is honest and some will not tell you their real status.
Meeting someone online, chatting and getting to know them can be very exciting. There are many people who have formed life-long friendships and even married via cyber dating. It should be approached with both enthusiasm and caution. Following these PIX11 “Know Your Enemy” tips alone won’t guarantee safety, but may be the difference between a really enjoyable fun date versus one of the worst dates you ever had. Remember, use common sense and always exercise care and vigilance when using social media.