So you’ve dipped into the arena of online dating. Signed up, had a peek, foraged rapaciously for the thumbs-up one. But now you’re teetering on the edge… can you trust the profile, can you trust the guy who’s chatting charmingly to you via text? What are the safeguards? What do you do if you feel out of your depth, if you’re nervous and unsure?
The number one concern in the minds of potential online daters is SAFETY.
How do you sift through thousands of potential virtual suitors to zero in on that credible soul mate? We’ve been studying the online dating phenomena for 10 years and we’re here to tell you that online dating can be safe, and very effective, if done the right way.
- Dare to Date Online to learn why you can find 1,000 perfect matches from a casted net of 100,000 Mr. Wrongs and Ms. Terribles
- 11 Online Dating Apps and Sites Where You May Find Your Match
Red flags to watch out for
Lindsay: There are predators and liars online but if you’re paying attention you’ll notice they exist in the real world, too. In most cases, it is a matter of common sense but we often get lost in our emotions and make mistakes.
Our Advice: Some grade-A tips for spotting the mugs, the duds and suspicious “baddies” is to monitor how you react to what your read. If you hesitate, if you find yourself raising an eyebrow, stop and question the profile. Have a wingwoman or wingman to guide you in your journey. Your friend should be someone you trust to give you straight advice and who is not, in reality, a “frenemy”! You should tell this friend about every date and interaction you have going on. Your friend will sift the profiles much more accurately than you do. Perhaps dabble in an evening of profile wanderings together. Make it fun.
Laura-Jane: There have been a few reports of OLDs (OnLine Daters) feeling unsupported by their website when they’ve met dodgy characters on their site. I guess there are no guarantees of a smooth run, but that’s synonymous with anything in life. So let’s try to establish a few rules that might enable you to curveball around the creepy ones, the really odd ones, and the ones who quite frankly should be locked up indoors.
Lindsay: Both men and women need to take precautions to avoid the risk of inviting unstable beings into your life.
Therefore, we say, use the three strikes rule. Your “date” should be on their best behavior when they are interacting with you. They may do one odd thing that sets off your spider sense. That could be an accident. A second oddity, well, that could be unlucky. But on the third strike, you’re better off trying another fish from the sea before your affection overrides your reason.
Behaviors to watch for:
- Overzealous, eagerness.
- Imprudent, tactile movements, especially towards you.
- Any general frenzy.
- A need-to-know-everything about your personal world—including your address, where you work, family, home..
Laura-Jane: In all honesty, I’ve not heard of many crackpot stories. I have however heard, and had my fair share, of interesting rendezvous with men. A man who is clearly not at all like his online dating pictures is quite common. In fact, when one such date introduced himself I performed a double take and had to catch myself from gawping. Bless, he had quite obviously posted photos of himself from 10 years ago.
What did this strike with me? A chord of dishonesty, a feeling of unease and ultimately, a stop-dead-in-my tracks moment that raised a red flag…
Lindsay: I had the same experience. I said, “You don’t look a lot like your profile picture.” She replied, “Oh, I know, that photo was from 10 years ago. That’s ok isn’t it?” No. Not really.
Handling uncomfortable meetings
Laura-Jane: So how do we check ourselves, check the chaps we’re eyeing up online? Well, there really isn’t a secret formula to this. When we meet a dud, and you sense it right away, it’s truly amazing how much we instinctively adapt and flex ourselves, changing our pattern and dimension of text chat and our position on the date.
Lindsay: Remember, you are not obligated AT ALL to spend any more time with your “date” than you want to. Make a polite excuse (have one ready!), get out of there and save your kindness for someone you want to give it to.
Laura-Jane: On one awkward meet up, he was a bit creepy, overly tactile and well, quite frankly, odd. We chatted for a bit, and I then excused myself to the ladies room where I summoned the confidence to bow out with an excuse. I didn’t want to hurt him. After an hour of chatter, I said I had a deadline to finish (not wholly untrue) and dashed off into the cooling night air.
Did he contact me again? Yes! What did I say? Simply that I had met someone else and it appeared to be blossoming. The line was totally fabricated, but perhaps better than rejecting him directly. Who knows which way is best… every man is different. And so I sat, and thought, and came up with the new guy cop out. It worked!
So what is the best strategy?
Laura-Jane: The best ideas are always the most obvious. You know the ones that stare right back at you when you’re level-headed and not emotionally charged with the excitement of meeting a potential soulmate online.
Safe online dating pointers to start with:
• Watch out for the too cool for school, ultra dishy guys. The chaps who ooze confidence and charm. The egoistic stallion. Don’t rule them out, just be weary and probe them about themselves before you meet to check they are bonafide.
• Always start with a coffee. No meals or elongated evening plans—you can always adjust if you hit the jackpot.
• If the chap is making you feel uneasy, make your excuses and run. As I did above. Be sensitive and gentle and hopefully you’ve covered all angles just in case he’s a fruit loop.
• And most importantly, keep your information minimal until you get to know the man. Yes, he’ll access you online, and maybe even on your mobile but he won’t know where you live and where you work unless you tell him.
Lindsay: So what’s going through the mind of the guy opposite? Ironically, if he’s not attracted to you he will be the most honest. When he feels attracted to you, he will sometimes feel inadequate and want to inflate himself. This doesn’t make him a bad person, just human. If you want to get to know the real man in front of you then look for things to help him relax. “Let’s just enjoy ourselves no matter what happens”, is a great phrase. In contrast, the man who is flawless and well practiced is one of two types: the man of your dreams, your Cary Grant, your Kit Harington, or a complete phony. Sometimes dating, online or not, is hard. Take your time. The patient ones are usually the good ones.
Laura-Jane: Most importantly, ladies, please check yourselves. Where are you at today? Are you sitting well emotionally?
Checking into online dating sites is a wonderful but affecting, indeed often fickle, avenue.
So take care of who you are, the fabulous you, before you dabble in the biggest love arena in the world.
Once you’re ready, go get ‘em girls. With safety tactics packed in your combat backpack.