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How to protect yourself while remaining open to love

Online dating is generally extremely safe because it is distance dating and lets you get to know your potential matches anonymously before you meet in person. This makes most people feel more comfortable and also allows you to pace yourself and be selective (which you should be).

However, there are still some basic safety rules for online dating you should observe before giving out personal contact information to a relative strangers or arranging to meet them. Even though everything is online, it's still easy to get carried away, so take things slow. These tips may seem obvious, but following them will ensure your safety and make sure you have only good online dating experiences. And you never know: Mr. or Miss Right might be just around the corner!

Always trust your instinct -- after all, it's gotten you this far in life already

Take your time and look at lots of different profiles to get a feel for what kind of person you want

Never publish your phone number or email address

Don't take anything at face value -- it's easy to lie online, and many people do

Ask lots of questions when chatting with your potential mates

Make sure you feel comfortable with whoever you are chatting with, at all times

If someone is abusive or rude, block them immediately

Don't give your home or work address to anyone you have not met in person

Before agreeing to a date, make sure you know as much about the other person as possible

Don't allow yourself to be talked into anything -- you're the one in charge

Take your time to get to know someone -- don't be rushed

A patient person will be happy to wait until you are ready to meet

Make sure anyone you're talking to is willing to provide photos and information about himself or herself

Ask your date to leave a message on your voicemail beforehand, if possible

Chat on the phone for a while before arranging a date

Always meet in a well-lit public place

Always tell a good friend where you are going and who you're meeting

If possible, step away and call a friend during the date to confirm that everything is ok

Always carry a cell phone on a date

Schedule lunch dates -- they're convenient and they have a time limit

Always make your own travel arrangements to/from a first date

Do not accept a ride home on the first date or reveal your address

If you're traveling far, always make and confirm your own hotel arrangements

Make sure you have as much information about your date as possible

Keep your first date to a specified time limit so you always have an "exit" point

Never feel like you owe it to someone to meet them -- you don't!

These rules might seem like overkill, but the reality is that you are introducing yourself to complete strangers and should definitely take precautions. Following these and other safe dating strategies will make sure you can relax and enjoy yourself safely and without the fear that someone will take advantage of you.


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