Online Dating Safety

The Essential
Relationship Workbook

Using the Internet as part of a strategy to seek out potential partners is a way of life today. It merits a place in your search strategy. But it should also be conducted with a lot of healthy skepticism. Remember the old saying, seeing is believing? All you see on the Internet is the tiny window of information people are willing to show. Remember, some people on the Internet are complete phonies (or worse), so use it with a healthy degree of caution and awareness.

Be Discriminating

When participating in online chat, do not count on the expressed mission of the group; rely on what you see happening there. The originators may have had a worthy purpose, but things do not always go the way people intended.

When you first go to a new Internet place, be it a chat room, bulletin board, social networking site, etc., get a feel for it. Is there a flow of conversation or is it simply a bunch of individuals speedily dumping their own misspelled and ill-thought out opinions? Notice what is happening and decide if you want to invest your time and emotional energy there.

If a group offers things that seem too good to be true, it is because they probably are. That stunning woman or that gorgeous man pictured on the site, allegedly waiting for you, probably is not there. It is usually a marketing illusion created to trigger your emotional needs and take advantage of you in some way. There is a sucker born every minute. Do not be one of them.

Look for groups that feel like they are well run and are populated by people who are fundamentally polite and sincere. Groups that have moderators or volunteer members deleting spam, dealing with people who purposefully start arguments or behave badly, are a good choice. Some people who purposely say mean or argumentative things to inflame the conversation; a moderator will help prevent them from spoiling everyone else’s experience.

Once you become part of an online group, you can offer to help moderate if you have the skills. It is a big commitment, but it gives you great visibility and lets everyone know that you are a person who is willing to go out of your way to be helpful. As you grow to know and trust some of the other members, you can even offer to help them, using your skills and talents. Everyone has something to offer.

Maintaining Your Privacy and Security

Let us begin with another Internet fact. You should keep this in mind before you even begin using it as a part of your networking strategy.

Anything you put on the Internet may be there forever

While it may feel like a casual conversation over a beer or a cup of tea, or a deep soul connection, you are actually creating a permanent record. What you write may be stored by whomever you are communicating with, and of course, this means that under some circumstances, could potentially be forwarded on to others. Social networking sites store almost everything you write, every picture you post, saving the information indefinitely.

I strongly recommend setting up a separate, free email account with Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, or any no cost service. You can use that account to communicate anonymously, and after you really know someone, you can switch them to your personal account.

Establishing a separate, dedicated, relationship-search email account has many benefits.

Anonymity is most important.

This gives you a way to permanently disconnect from individuals or groups that are not working out. Again, while the majority of people have good intentions, you need to proceed with caution before revealing your personal information.

As the Sergeant in the 1980’s television series used to say when he finished giving the squad the morning briefing “Let’s be careful out there”.