Since the explosion of the internet, online dating as the way to meet someone new has become the norm for millions of American. Stories abound of happy couples walking down the aisle of wedded bliss after finding like-minded mates via dating websites. Most likely someone in your life has met their spouse that way.
However, because of the inherent level of anonymity, this method of introduction brings with it elevated threat to physical safety. The intrigue for meeting online is the sheer increase of number of dates you can find outside of your usual sphere of influence and circle of friends. Whereas that is great it seems, you also need to be cautious that you are keeping yourself safe. Yes, anyone can lie at any time. But online it is much easier. Married men masquerade as singles, pedophiles’ lurk camouflaged as teenagers. Any of those online profiles you read could be owned by a rapist. Alarming yes and it should be. But does that mean never online date? Not necessarily. It does me that you need to use excessive caution.
Perks to online dating:
1. It’s discreet
2. You get to be picky
3. They are open 24/7
Problems with online dating:
1. Creeps are out there
2. There’s no privacy online
3. You can’t read his body language or hear his tone of voice
As a wise man once cautioned, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy… prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
1) Never have your home address listed online—anywhere! If you must put an address somewhere, then pay for a P.O. Box near your home and use that. No one needs a stalker.
2) Set up a separate email address for dating sites
3) Don’t give too many identifying details online—i.e. your schedule, work or church address. If you are a single mom, don’t list names of your children’s schools or activities anywhere.
4) When you finally decide to meet do so at a public location and drive separately. Best to meet first time during the day for a specified short period of time, perhaps for an hour or two. Even if you have texted and emailed for hours and hours, or even spoken on the phone, the first face-to-face meeting may feel awkward even if you two were meant to be together. So give yourselves grace by starting small and increasing the time as you go.
5) ALWAYS let someone in your life know exactly when and where you are meeting an online friend for the first time. I’d even go so far as to have some friends at the restaurant just happen to be at another table, out-of-sight, just to be safe.
6) Ask the questions that matter. Don’t assume anything. Ask him if he is married or ever has been. Ask him if he has children and who has custody. As him his view of God and what his relationship is with his creator. Going to church regularly does not mean you have a personal relationship with Jesus any more than living inside a garage makes you a car. Just get to know each other and pay attention to what you hear, see and notice. As with any relationship, give it time. Don’t rush things. People can be anyone they want to be for a period of time but eventually true colors come out.
More of these tips can be found in my book The Automatic 2nd Date
Author of The Automatic 2nd Date and Finding a Man Worth Keeping