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Staying Safe While Using Online Dating

Around 40 million Americans routinely use online dating sites, and finding someone online has long ago lost any stigma attached to it. Today, there are dozens of hook up websites online, with the biggest (eHarmony) having about 20 million members. Staying safe while dating online is mostly common sense, although it’s often all too easy to get carried away and do or say something out of character.

Staying safe while looking for love online starts with finding a dating site you are comfortable with. Most larger sites have good security precautions, while some of the smaller ones may not be run as efficiently and also focus on specific interests or groups, such as being Jewish, Christian or living in the country. You should also decide what you want before joining; are you looking for a serious long term relationship, to get married or just to have some fun?

Although you want to let a potential match know about your interests, be careful not to include too much personal information in your profile or when you interact. Don’t give out your phone number, address, place of employment or social security number. You may want to give your first name out but not your last name, and share the city you live in but not your street or neighborhood. And most sites allow you to post a photo of yourself; most dating site users expect that, although you’ll have to decide if that’s something you are comfortable with.

Using a fake ‘sob story’ to get the support and trust of dating site users may be unscrupulous, but unfortunately, it is common. So be wary if someone you seem to connect with makes you feel sorry for them, although of course, it could be genuine too. And checking out any potential match is a good idea, certainly, before you meet someone, and if you feel you’re getting close to someone. Just about everybody has a social media profile, and you can also look at company employee lists, blogs, LinkedIn profile and whatever else comes up under a name search.

Take it slowly when connecting with others using an online dating site; no need to add them as a Facebook friend just because you’re getting on well. Be careful about sexting too, as you want to make sure you trust that person enough to not post those conversations in a public place or use them against you in some way. And of course, most of us know that when it comes to meeting someone in person, always choose a public place and tell someone where you are going.

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