By Emily Bartz, NextAdvisor.com
“Play it safe” is the oldest rule in the book, especially when it comes to online dating. While there are a certain set of rules to follow in order to stay safe during the cyber interaction portion of your online dating endeavors, there are entirely different guidelines that pertain to staying safe once you decide to take your relationship offline.
Easing slowly into a new relationship is key in any circumstance. When it comes to taking your online relationship offline, this is even more important. Since almost all of the communication you have with your matches from your preferred online dating service is through the Internet, it can be tough to get a full grasp on the person that you’re speaking to. Before suggesting a date offline, it can be beneficial to start with a phone call or video meeting. This way, you’re retaining a bit of your online anonymity, but edging a bit closer to getting to know the person you met online. A phone call or video chat is a great way to gauge the type of person you’re planning to eventually meet up with, as it’s a more personal way to communicate. It should be noted that if your love interest is constantly makes excuses as to why they can’t video chat, such as their camera broke or they can’t get the video to work correctly, it may be a sign that you’re being catfished.
The Internet is all about doing things quickly. You can make purchases in a matter of seconds, download programs in minutes or even connect with someone through an online dating site in a few days. The key to doing this safely, though, is to take your time getting to know a person and eventually making plans to meet up with them in real time. As a general rule, a few weeks of cyber chat is enough before you suggest taking your talks offline. Even though you may feel a strong connection with someone right away, it’s best to practice patience and wait it out — you’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Stay in public
While it may be tempting to start a new relationship in an intimate atmosphere, it may be a better idea to have your first few dates in a public place. Private dinner dates are great with someone you know well, but in meeting someone for the first time, it’s best to play it safe. A local coffee house or public park are the perfect setting to have a quiet conversation while staying in the presence of other people — think of this type of date as a pre-screening process.
Do your research
It may seem excessive, but doing a bit of homework on the person you’re about to meet for a date before the real thing can actually be a great idea. There are a few simple ways researching the person can help you get more of an idea of who you’re chatting with. For instance, checking to see if you have any friends in common with them on Facebook might be a good place to start. By researching the person you’re about to spend time with, you can gain a more thorough understanding of them as a well-rounded candidate rather than the one-sided view you get from reading their profile. Another benefit of doing some pre-date “cyber stalking” is that you can often gauge some of the activities and interests your match has, and later introduce them into the conversation if it’s something you have in common.
Keeping yourself safe isn’t always an easy thing to do when it comes to the Internet and online dating. Thankfully, with common sense and a few thoughtful reminders, you can be sure that your online romance will translate securely offline.
Visit our online dating blog to learn more tips on how to find love online.
This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.