It almost seems like everyone is a friend or a friend of a friend these days. It is great that we can get to know so many people through social media, but be careful when it comes to actually meeting someone in person. Here are a few things to think about…
If you frequent online dating sites, be careful about how much information you share. This may seem like a no brainer, but it amazes me how often people share their phone number or actual address online. You don’t want to let anyone and everyone be able to find you that easily. Give general information about yourself. If you let people know what university you attend, don’t state whether you live on or off campus. Its really easy to give too much information without even realizing it. Don’t put yourself at risk of obtaining a stalker.
If you end up talking to someone online and agree to meet, meet them in a public place. Do not let them pick you up at your house, apartment or residence hall. It also isn’t smart to meet them at their house, apartment or residence hall. Meet in a neutral place and get to know them better in a safe location. Let a friend or family member know that you are going to meet this person, where you are going and when to expect you back. You may feel like you already know this person from conversations online or over the phone, but you don’t really know this person at all yet. Please proceed with caution! Many people have reported being raped, physically intimidated or assaulted by someone they met online. Unfortunately, a few people have also been killed. Have emergency phone numbers programmed into your cell phone for easy access if you feel you are in danger.
Also, do not use alcohol on the first date. It is easy to indulge in a drink or two if you are nervous, but this will shut down some of that much needed judgment. You need to be aware of your surroundings and be able to listen to your intuition when you meet someone new for the first time. You also need to be able to get in your car and drive away if you find yourself in a bad situation. Stay sober and alert during the whole date. A manipulative person may try to use alcohol to screw up your judgment, so if you’ve already decided to stay sober, this will mess up their plan. An honest person will be okay with you saying no to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
If you set good boundaries from the start it will be easy to spot the winners from the losers in the online dating world. Losers don’t like boundaries and will be frustrated when you keep sticking to them. Winners will respect you and won’t push your boundaries. They will take their time to really get to know you. Take care of yourself out there, have fun, but be safe!