Online dating can be a convenient and fun way to meet that special someone. For anyone who is short on time but who is looking for friendship, love or even marriage, the option to search for that special someone while in the privacy of your home, or the convenience of your office can be an attractive option. For most people, the online search begins by deciding what you are looking for in someone and then narrowing down your choices once you have located a number of potential matches. After that, you may spend time communicating over the internet or even over the telephone. For some people, this “getting to know you” phase lasts weeks, or even months, while for others it may only last a few days before moving on to the next step -- a face to face meeting. If all has gone well up to this point, meeting in person is the natural next step; however, there are safety concerns that go along with meeting someone in person for the first time.
While many long lasting relationships and marriages have started through online dating, there are still some practical safety tips that you should follow when meeting for the first time. Some of these tips apply equally to any first date; however, many are specific to a first time date that stems from meeting someone online.
If you have been fortunate enough to find someone that is located relatively close to where you live or work, then you have fewer safety concerns for your first meeting. Consider the following tips when planning your first meeting:
- Do not give out any personal information. Do not give your date your home address or any specific work information until you have a well established relationship.
- Meet in a public place. Consider meeting for coffee or lunch before you commit to a nighttime meeting. Do not agree to leave the public place once you are there. If things work out, you can always plan a more intimate date down the road.
- Do not meet anywhere that you frequent on a regular basis. If you get a bad feeling about the person at your meeting, you may not want him or her to know where to find you.
- Tell a close friend or family member the details of your date. Make sure that someone knows where you are planning to meet, when the date is scheduled to begin, and when you plan to be home.
- Have your own transportation. Drive your own car to the meeting if possible. If that is not an option, make sure you have the telephone number of a reliable taxi cab company with you in case you feel the need to leave early.
- Do not over-imbibe in alcoholic drinks. A glass of wine or a beer may be fine, but we all know that too much alcohol can impair our ability to think clearly and can make us more vulnerable.
One of the biggest draws to online dating is the ability to meet people who you would not otherwise meet simply because they do not live near you. At the same time, a long-distance meeting can pose additional safety concerns. If you think you have met someone worth traveling to meet in person, be sure to follow the “Meeting Locally” tips as well as the following additional safety tips:
- Do not give out specific flight information. Simply tell the person that you will be arriving on a specific day. There is no need for him or her to know the airline or the exact time. This will prevent them from showing up at the airport which will create an awkward situation.
- Arrange for your own transportation. Rent a vehicle or take a taxi-cab at all times during your stay. Do not get into a car with your date during this trip. If things progress, you may make the decision that it is safe to do so on a future trip.
- Stay in a hotel of your choosing. Do not give out your hotel information.
- Stay in contact with a friend or family member. Not only should they know the details of your trip, but make sure to check in on a regular basis while you are there as well.
Sometimes, online dating leads to a match with someone living abroad. Connecting with someone from a foreign country can be very romantic and the idea of traveling to meet them can sound like the adventure of a lifetime. Clearly, this is a big step and comes with considerably more safety concerns.
- Do not let your date arrange everything. If your date wants to share in the expenses, or even pay for the entire trip, be sure that this does not mean that he or she will arrange the entire trip. This can mean that you are flying into a foreign country with absolutely no knowledge of where you will be staying or how you will be traveling once you get there.
- Do your research. Make sure you know the area as well as possible before you go. Specifically, be sure you know where your first meeting will be held. If possible, pick the location yourself after doing your research.
- Pick your own lodging. If your date wishes to make suggestions, that’s fine; however, the ultimate decision should be yours. Preferably, do not let your date know where you will be staying until after your first in person meeting.
- Arrange for your own transportation while there. Rent a vehicle or know what public transportation options are available.
- Be sure YOU can afford to be there and to get home if necessary. Always have the ability to jump back on a plane at a moments notice and get home.
- Have a list of local law enforcement numbers as well as the American Consulate with you at all times.
- Never let your passport out of your sight.
- Make sure family and friends have a detailed itinerary for your trip. Purchase a cell phone that will work where you are going or make sure you know how to use local telephones to call home. Check in at least once a day with someone at home.
Leigia R. is a writer that contributes to Cupid's Arrow which offers love advice for all those in search of their potential partner.