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Post date: 2007-03-15

Online dating may seem alien to you at first and may almost seem like you are giving away too much information about yourself. As long as you use the mainstream, reputable sites though it is actually a very safe way to share information as your true identity is protected until you are ready to reveal yourself to someone.

Like all forms of dating though there are a few rules to follow which will maximise your safety. You shouldnít be paranoid about meeting new people and treating any date as a criminal almost and not telling them anything is off-putting. The rule is to be sensible, donít take a risk you wouldnít normally just because youíve been chatting on the internet!

Trust your instincts
As you engage in online dating youíll find you develop your own radar for people who are not genuine. Make sure you have exchanged a few emails before you actually meet so youíve had chance to dig a little deeper into some of those profile claims (and vice-versa so make sure you are genuine too!)

Talk on the phone before you meet
Some people are reluctant to talk on the phone before they meet but itís a good way to check someone out. If they are reluctant to give you a contact number or give strict instructions about when itís OK to call then there is probably a good reason for that! It will also let you see if the chemistry that flows electronically is still there in person. After all someone canít research a phone conversation can they so if a potential date has uncannily similar interests to you then this is a chance to discuss then randomly in more detail.

Arrange to meet in a public place
Itís obvious but very important. Think about the time of day you are planning to meet and whoíll be around. Coffee is a good first date if you both donít have to travel too far otherwise lunch can be less intimidating than dinner and you can always make your excuses and leave if the date is not going so well!

Ensure that you tell someone where you are going
Make sure that someone knows you are meeting your date, the time and location as well as details of the person you are meeting, i.e. name and email address or phone number; and ideally arrange to call them at the end to say you are safe. Always have contingency arrangements in case you lose your phone though as itís not good to promise to call someone and then not be able to contact them! Leave a copy of their number by your home phone if you donít know it or ideally memorise it.

Donít give away too much personal information too soon
Remember when you meet your date for the first time it is, in effect, a first date. Donít tell them everything about yourself immediately, wait until you know them a little better, just as you would if youíd met them in a bar. Be aware that information such as where you work or your kids schools, can lead to someone being able to find you. Anyone who is genuine will understand your reasons for not divulging too much detail and will not take it personally so donít worry about causing offence.

If the date didnít work for you tell them
Itís not fair to just leave someone hanging on if you donít want to meet them again especially if they are keen on you and it can makes things awkward in the future.

Just email them and say thank you for meeting up but you donít plan a second meeting. Be short, polite but firm and it will save hassle in the end.

They may email you back asking why. Be kind and discreet but honesty is the best policy. If they lied in their profile or their picture is 10 years out of date and that is why then tell them, At least then they can rectify the problem and move on. Donít get involved in protracted discussions about their failures though and remember to treat them how you would like to be treated, kindly and fairly!

Donít despair if they donít want to meet again
If you liked them but the chemistry didnít work for them donít despair! Think of all the people we meet every day that we donít have chemistry with. Just persevere and your dream date will come along.

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