Online dating is often seen as a taboo or something to be laughed about but it can prove a really useful method of finding like-minded people as friends or more, especially for those who feel particularly isolated.
Please bear in mind that there are safety issues that you should look out for especially as a lot of sites may be very sex orientated. Remember, whoever you talk to online may not be who they say they are, so be careful.
Here are some handy tips to help keep you safe:
Don’t give out personal information, until you know the person better. Keep to your first name and if you want to talk on the phone, don’t give a landline number. You could even use SKYPE, this allows you to talk over the computer without needing to give out telephone numbers. You could also use free email addresses such as hotmail or yahoo, but make sure you only put your first name in the email address or address bar.
Be vigilant, even if your have been talking a long time the person on the other side may not always be telling the truth – trust your gut instinct – if you think someone is avoiding certain questions or often leaves the conversation really quickly, these may be signs that they are hiding things from you (e.g. a partner).
If the person you’re talking to, confesses their undying love to you after the first few or a few online conversations then be very wary, although you can get a sense of what the person is like you’re talking to, can you really love someone without meeting them? If you chose to meet then ask for a recent photo, this will give you an idea who to look out for and if when you meet them they look rather different then it is obvious they may not have been fully truthful along the way, feel free to cut your meeting short.
When you meet, always do so in a public area, maybe in a coffee shop where there is help around if needed, you could even suggest bringing friends along to make you both safer.
ALWAYS tell a friend/family member where you are going, what time and some information about that person, you could even arrange for them to ring you 30 minutes into the meeting and have a code word that means something’s wrong.
Long distance relationships are hard so try and meet with people more local to you but keep your address vague, use the city you live in instead of the area.
Remember, whoever you talk to online may not be who they say they are, so again, be careful.