|Posted on March 17, 2017 at 8:35 AM|
In today’s world, the internet and social media networks are common ways for people to meet others for business and pleasure. Unfortunately, the risks are high, and sometimes people forget to take precautions when communicating with strangers online. As the saying goes, ‘it’s easier to talk to strangers,' and it’s even easier to get caught up in a good chat. Every day thousands of people unintentionally share personal details online, and some end up suffering the consequences of their online behavior.
Some online daters even feel comfortable enough to exchange phone numbers after sending and receiving several instant messages. It starts out as a harmless quick chat. You think - sure, I’d like to hear a voice to go along with that picture. However, you never expect what could happen next if the chemistry just isn’t there. What if they’re persistent and they continue to call you even after you’ve decided that you’re not interested? Of ‘course, you could block their number, and it would go straight to voicemail, but now you have ten new voicemails every day! On the other hand, you may luck out and meet someone who is completely sane, understanding and respectful. The choice is always yours, but here are some tips to dating online that may protect you from being taken advantage of or annoyed in the long run.
Tip #1 Protect Your Information
Unless you have a business, you shouldn’t have your real number displayed online. Try using a voicemail number or a forwarding number. Only give out your real phone number after meeting offline. After the first date if you feel comfortable with moving forward, then give it to them. During the early stages of online dating; if you must hear a voice, start with a video chat. Video chatting is free. You can hear and see each other, and this also allows you to verify who the person is in the picture. Requesting a video chat is also the best way to throw a catfish back in the water!
Tip # 2 No Personal Photos
Try to reserve personal photos with your family, coworkers, and home for a later date. You probably already have some photos like this on social media networks; you may want to consider how much of yourself you want to share online. Understandably, nobody wants to look boring, so go ahead and show off a little, but stick to the basics. Pictures that show you in action are good, but only if you're in public places. Don’t show pictures that include you at a front door or mailbox with an address on them!
Tip #3 Ask Questions that Matter
Unless you perform a complete background check and live with a person, you won’t know everything about them. Nevertheless, it will pay off in the long run to at least verify that they are who they represent themselves to be on their profile. Ask important questions, below are some examples:
How old are you?
In a perfect world, people would volunteer their driver license or identification, but that’s just not going to happen while chatting online, not unless the person is naïve. So, you have to do your part to protect yourself. Be smart, if someone tells you that they are 28 years old, but you can clearly see them in pictures dressed in cap-and-gown, along with friends from this year’s graduating senior class– keep it moving! Now, if you just can’t tell, ask for their birth year; if you’re uncomfortable dating someone that looks "too young” then maybe that’s just not the person for you. On the other hand, if you like what you see, but you just want to be sure then run their name through one of the background search engines. Don’t be sneaky about it, though.
You may want to say something like this: What year were you born? Wow, you look great! I don’t believe it! I’m going to have to look you up online!
Chances are they will laugh and take it as a compliment. Take that moment to look them up quickly and when you find them let the person know that you verified their age and that you are impressed with how well they’ve taken care of themselves. If it turns out that they are lying about their age, whether they lied about being younger or older this is your queue to exit. Verifying someone's identity that is not a celebrity or a public figure could be a difficult task. If nothing comes back from your search, ask for identification before you go any further. Tell them to make a copy and strike out their home address and driver license number or identification number. Make it an even trade by offering to do the same for them. If they aren’t willing to provide ID and you can’t verify their age by any other means, just move on. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Do you have children?
Why ask, everybody loves kids right? Wrong, everybody does not love children, and you may just be the person who isn’t ready to be a step-mom or step-dad. Perhaps, you may be looking for someone who has children just like you, either way, ask the question. If there is no common ground, move on quickly.
What’s do you do for a living?
People exaggerate all the time. Well, let’s just call a spade a spade, people tell lies all the time! Be bold, ask the question, and if the response is vague, ask them to tell you their specific occupation. Don’t force them to tell you what location, but at least get an answer. If you chat long enough, you will soon see if they’re an executive or someone looking for an executive to scam.
What’s your location?
Be practical; don’t start a long distance relationship if that’s not what you want.
Can we video chat?
Remember, when you video chat you are verifying that the person in the picture is who they claim to be. Take your time, but don’t take too long – get a glimpse of the individual you are sending flying hearts!
Online dating has stages just like dating offline. Everything ‘next’ happens when you’ve reached another level of comfort with that person. So, when you’re comfortable make your next move. Online dating can be like ‘hide and seek,' but if you play fair, it will feel more like show and tell.