Online Dating: Get Started Safely, Successfully, and Have Fun

online datingMore and more we’re hearing stories about how people who met their life partners on the Internet.

Even if daters don’t find their one true love, people still form genuine friendships and make lasting connections online.

While online dating is an effective way to meet singles, it has the potential to be a negative experience, too. Besides heartache, you could be risking fraud or identity theft.

If you’re testing online dating, maintain a positive, open attitude, but keep the following in mind:

Set Realistic Expectations

Naturally, you’ll have a wish list of qualities you want in a partner and a set of deal breakers. Remember, nobody is perfect. Someone may not be an excellent email writer or look like a 10 in photos, but you could have a connection in person.

Go for what you romantically want in life, but also be willing to give sincere, good people a chance. Whatever energy you put out, you’ll get back in return. If after the first date you undoubtedly know someone isn’t for you, break it to them gently—but be upfront.

Set realistic expectations for yourself as well. Don’t let rejection ruin your self-esteem—not everyone out there is tactful, but we’re all entitled to our personal preferences for what we like and don’t like.

Try not to take rejection too personally. There’s someone for everyone, so if it’s not meant to be, keep looking.

Don’t Become a Serial Dater

Online daters can become desensitized to the dating process. They’ll date someone for a short time and enjoy the highs; the moment there is a hitch, they dispose of the person and start fresh with someone new.

Online dating can even become an addiction. Addicted online daters check their profile obsessively and spend hours each day browsing other profiles. If you exude this type of behavior, ask yourself, is it working for you?

Follow the Rules

Meet in a safe, neutral public place for the first few meetings.

Don’t give out too many personal details until you get to know and trust them. The Internet has cultivated a number of new ways to be defrauded.

Look Out for the Catfish

A “catfish” is a person who steals someone else’s social media identity to create a fake persona, usually for use in online dating, Lifelock reports.

The profile can be deceptively realistic, complete with a fully-functioning Facebook profile that has connections with friends, family members, and co-workers who all seem legitimate.

The goal of catfishing is to seduce a partner into a long-term online relationship. The most famous and recent example of catfishing is when college football player Manti Te’o fell for it.

Manipulating someone emotionally has devastating effects, but a catfishing experience can even be financially disastrous if the catfish accesses your personal information or tries to commit identity theft.

Be Prepared

Here are pointers for positive online dating experiences:

  • Do research. A Google search can yield small details about your date. You’ll at least get some inquiry into who they are.
  • Monitor your identity. Setting up a Google alert for your name is an easy way to keep an eye on your own social media profiles to make sure they aren’t being duplicated by others.
  • Check backgrounds. If you start to get serious about someone, and they seem evasive about their past, secure your uncertainties with a background check.

Be optimistic about online dating. Many people have gone to the altar because of a successful online encounter.

A measure of caution and common sense will help you along the way. Play it safe, follow your instincts and have fun.

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