While online dating can be a very rewarding and positive experience, it is vital that you take a cautious approach and protect your safety at all times. The following safety recommendations are intended as a guide only.
1. Arrange to meet him.
When meeting for the first time, never allow your date to pick you up from your home. In fact, your date shouldn't even know your home address yet!
2. Meet in public places.
For a first meeting, always meet in a public place where other people are in close proximity. You may also want to consider going out with a group of people, or a double date.
3. Go dutch by paying half of the bill.
It's always respectful for the man to offer to pay the bill. Unfortunately, some men ruin the gesture by expecting something in return. Therefore it may not be a bad idea for you to go dutch. Pay half the bill so that you won't feel under any obligation to "return" the favor.
4. Remember that alcohol affects your judgment.
The biggest threat to a person's judgment, when on a date, is alcohol. Not only does it affect your judgment, but alcohol also lessens your inhibitions. If you are drinking, keep your drink in sight at all times and don't get so drunk that you don't know what you are doing. Better yet, try to avoid alcohol on your first date.
5. Use your own mode of transportation.
Provide your own transportation to your public meeting place and make sure you have more than enough gas.
6. Don't assume that a man is safe.
It's important never to let your guard down when on a first date. Never assume a man is safe just because he claims to be religious or a gentleman.
7. Don't let him know where you live.
If you want to see him again, arrange a second date and then take it from there.
8. Avoid secluded areas.
Remember - stay in a public place for your first date and avoid secluded areas such as parks.
9. Listen to your gut.
If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. And if you haven't met him before, and you know at the beginning of the date that something doesn't feel right, then leave immediately.
10. Always let someone else know where you're going.
Be sure someone knows where you are going and who you'll be with. You might even consider arranging a time to call and check in. Or you could arrange to meet up with friends later that night.
11. Give him your cell phone number.
It's safer to give out a cell phone number instead of your home phone number, because they will be able to look up your home address using your home phone number easily.
12. Always remain alert.
Even if you're having a blast and the chemistry is great, it's a good idea to remain alert the whole evening. Make sure you have a cell phone on you.
13. Be aware of dating or romance scams.
Unfortunately all dating websites anywhere in the world have been abused by scammers, and it's extremely hard to prevent them from signing up as they can easily hide their original IP address. They would normally set up a profile first, and start sending you messages, forming a relationship with you, then tapping into your compassionate side. They will claim to be terribly poor, or someone in their family is facing a crisis that can only be solved with money. Directly or indirectly, they will ask you to help. They will keep the connection going until they have drained as much from you as you can give ... and then they will disappear. Do NOT fall for these scams.
For more information on Internet scams, please visit the consumer affairs website.