While technology makes it easier for people with similar interests in the same area to meet in person, it also brings risks. Meeting people online and then seeing them in person can be dangerous, as it is easier to mask one’s true identity and intentions online.
Here are five ways that everyone can stay safe when they are meeting people online.
1. Reveal Information Carefully
Living our lives online can sometimes blur the lines of privacy. But it is important to maintain a private life, especially in the world of online dating. Revealing everything about yourself right away is a bad idea, as that information can be exploited later. Here are a few tips on protecting privacy while online dating.
2. Meet in Public Areas
The biggest risk one can take is to meet an individual for the first time at a private location. Say someone invites you to a party at their house or a friend’s house. You have no idea whether such a party even exists. Perhaps they just want to get you alone.
It is best to meet people for the first time in public places, such as restaurants, coffee shops and parks. To play it safe, do not meet in a private location until at least a few weeks of comfortable, in person interactions with the individual.
3. Tell Friends and Family
When meeting someone you met online, especially for the first time, keeping family members in the loop can be a life saver. It is always scary when meeting people online, especially a stranger. If your best friends and family members know where you are, they are in a position to react if anything goes wrong. And there are now apps that can be used to show your location to family and friends. If they know where you were going, but see your phone is at another location, they can immediately call you or go out to see if you are okay.
4. Do Not Accept Expensive Gifts Easily
It is charming and romantic when someone gives us an expensive gift. Or so it seems. Expensive gifts that arrive so early in a relationship can be seen as a sign of control, with one party trying to assert dominance over the other.
By paying one’s own way during the first few encounters in an online relationship and not accepting such gifts right away, it maintains a sense of autonomy in a relationship.
5. Trust Your Gut
The above tips are very helpful, as they can protect people from overexposure to bad situations. But sometimes we have to rely on instinct. The gut feeling that you get when you meet someone for the first time can be very revealing. Or perhaps you have a bad feeling after an email or text exchange.
Relationships can make us doubt ourselves. Meeting people online adds even more doubt. But everyone must think of their safety before anything else. By following the above five tips, you can pursue online dating while keeping yourself safe.