You’ve been using an online dating service and you’ve found someone you would really like to meet. Before you get started, there is one big note of caution.
Online dating sites DO NOT do background checks on their customers. Please don’t assume that because a person has a profile on a dating site that the site has “pre-qualified” them and validated their background.
Here are some best practices for you to follow before setting up your first meeting.
Make contact by phone.
Although you’ve developed a comfort level with this person by exchanging plenty of emails and instant messages, it’s important to have a few phone conversations with the person before meeting. Hearing their voice adds a new dimension to a relationship. It will give you an idea on the cadence they speak in, as well as if there are any awkward pauses when they respond to your questions. If they have a voice that grates on your nerves, this may also be a sign that this person isn’t a good match for you.
Use your cell phone number, not your home number.
Your safety is better protected on your cell phone. People are able to pull up your name, address, and directions to your house just by knowing your phone number. To illustrate my point, go to Google.com and enter in your home phone number. You’ll notice it will pull up your name, your address, and a link to Google Maps to show how to get to your house. If you’re uncomfortable with this information being posted on Google, click on the search result and there is a link to unsubscribe your information.
Do not have them pick you up at your house or your place of work.
Meet in a public place and keep it low key.
Meet at Starbucks or a local diner for a cup of coffee.
Lunch is great.
Lunch works well because it comes with a time limit. People need to get back to the office, so you have a built in excuse to leave if things aren’t going as planned.
Avoid meeting for cocktails.
Alcohol does different things to different people, not always for the better. People’s personalities tend to change with each cocktail they drink. Someone who’s shy may turn into the life of the party, but you’re hoping to see the person as they really are.
Bring your cell phone, and make sure it’s charged.
Tell a friend or family member your plans.
Give them the name of the person you’re meeting, their cell phone number, and the place you’ll be meeting. Tell them your whereabouts in case things go really wrong.
Have your friend give you a call to check on you.
My suggestion is to have your friend call at a point when the date should have ended. For example, if you’re meeting for lunch at noon, and you expect the lunch to last one hour, have your friend give you a call at 1:30 to make sure you’re safe.
Don’t invite them back to your house.
If the date goes well, you will be making plans for another day shortly after that.
I’m not trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom. In fact, almost all of the singles you meet will be normal well-adjusted individuals. These are just some guidelines to follow to protect yourself against some of the crazy people that may be lurking out there. It’s better to be safe than sorry.