I made many rookie mistakes when I signed up for online dating after my divorce. The first was not doing my homework about the absolute basics of safety. I learned from my mistakes — and you can, too.
So if you are recently divorced or otherwise newly single and considering online dating, here’s an easy-to-read primer of critical information I should have been armed with from the outset. Much of it seems pretty basic, and it is, but it’s easy to forget when you get swept up in a romantic possibility.
Online Dating Safety Tips
No photo? No way. He’s hiding something — probably that he is an unfaithful, married, or otherwise attached troll. And if just that fact doesn’t repulse you, remember that if he’ll do it to her, he’ll do it to you. Even if he gives you an excuse and offers to send photos privately, don’t take the bait.
Meet in public. Make the first meeting a quick cup of coffee or a drink at a popular, well-lit spot where, yes, you can score a quiet-enough table to talk, but no, you won’t even be close to being the only people there. You want witnesses, just in case.
Tell a friend about the date. This works on two levels. First, you can give her contact information, tell her where you're meeting, and ask her to give you a call at a certain time to make sure you're fine. This doubles as a bail-out if you’re having an awful experience; tell your date your friend has an emergency and that you need to go.
Drive, don’t walk, to and from the date. Whether you decide to meet for coffee or a cocktail, don’t ride with him and don't walk. Have your vehicle and the ability to come and go as you please.
And if you have a cocktail, stay sober. Alcohol and good judgment don’t mix. Plus you are driving yourself, remember?
Don’t tell him where you live. This is an invitation into your personal space. Honor the boundary and save that information for much later. Ditto for your place of work.
Never, never, never invite him to your place. Not for a first, second or even third meeting. Remember, no matter how much you’ve emailed, texted and talked on the phone, you really don’t know him at all.
And don’t go to his either. See the last tip; ditto again.
Carry pepper spray. No, this isn’t alarmist. In fact carrying pepper spray is a wise practice for all women under any circumstances.
This essay was written by Tracey Dee Rauh.