Have you known anyone who has dated online?
You do now.
I cannot tell a lie: in the 23 years I’ve been a single mom, I’ve given online dating a whirl once or twice. Maybe more than that. I tried Match.com and Eharmony. The results have run the gamut, and I’m including some of them in my second book Facing the Odds, One Man at a Time.
Recently, I agreed to give a presentation for the Alaska Chapter of the Romance Writers of America www.akrwa.alaskawriters.com/ on internet dating safety tips. Their writers may use the tips to create fictional characters who date online.
With my background of working in domestic violence and now in law enforcement, complimented by a history of internet dating, I decided it was a good fit. How could I make it better? I decided to sign up for a month with Match.com. to see if anything’s changed in the last six years since I dated online.
The results are listed below. Some are offered on Match.com, and some are strictly from my experiences.
1 1 Don’t let your loneliness drive your decisions
If you’re feeling vulnerable and depressed, this may not be the best time to reach out to a stranger. Strength-based versus need based relationships have many advantages. You’ll be more likely to set appropriate limits, avoid whirlwind connections, and move cautiously if you work towards a healthy self-image before going online.
2 Keep your expectations in check
There is no such thing as a waste of time. Ask questions of your date as though it’s a job interview. If there’s no spark, take the opportunity to learn something from his/her world that you can incorporate into yours. Consider each date as a story to be told to a friend later, and at best, a new friendship to be made. At worst, it was a chance to learn something more about your own likes and dislikes.
3 With every interaction (until you meet your date) remember that you might be getting Catfished
Think you’re online with a man? It could be an old woman posing as one. It’s easier than ever for posers to download a picture online and create a false profile. So don’t give your whole name, your personal email address or even your cell phone number. At least not in the beginning, and preferably not until you’ve met at least a few times in person.
4 Keep your wallet closed
Does your new online match have a child that’s suddenly sick, or need emergency funds to come visit you? Don’t buy it, and keep your full name, credit information and social security number to yourself. Don’t wire money, either.
5 Meet for coffee in a popular local establishment
No alcohol or large financial commitments that a lunch or dinner could invite. Arrive early and park away from windows.
6 Do not leave your beverage or food unattended
7 Listen carefully to your date
Does he/she speak disparagingly of a past relationship with unusual vehemence? Do stories from past relationships in which your date was consistently the victim flow easily from their lips?
8 After your date, stop by another public place on the way home
…just in case. Things may have gone well, but why chance it? You don’t really know who you’re dealing with right away, so make sure you’re not able to be followed home.
9 If you live in Alaska, punch your date’s first and last name in the Alaska Court Index.
Go to the State of Alaska’s website, and scroll down the page to My Government. Underneath that, click on Court System. To the right, a column appears- How Do I? Then click on Find Online Trial Court Information.You’ll be directed to a search tab, and you’ll want to insert your date’s name. It’s public information, and what you may be surprised at what you learn.