The Dating Game – Negotiating the Minefield

It wasn’t so long ago that people had the common misconception that only the desperate and dateless would become involved in internet dating. However, in more recent times it has become a very popular place to find a partner. It seems common now to hear of couples having found their true love in cyberspace.

Although this may seem an unorthodox way to meet, there are definitely positive benefits to online dating. For one thing, you can find someone who shares your interests and dreams. You know they are looking for some kind of relationship so you aren’t going to be flirting with someone only to find out he’s taken.

You also can take your time getting to know the person properly before exchanging personal details or meeting in person. When you first begin communicating with a prospective interest, use email or messenger to evaluate the person’s attitudes or behaviours. If the person makes you feel uncomfortable, cease the contact and move on.

Protect your anonymity by not revealing personal information in your online profile or in any form of communication. Watch for inconsistencies in what the person says. Remember, a person online can adopt any persona he or she wants to portray. Ask for a photo and be responsible in your dating behaviour. If the person makes continuous excuses for not providing a photo, chances are there is something to hide. Above all, don’t rush into something you may later regret.

Look for signs of anger and other inappropriate behaviours. Also if the person is disrespectful or demeaning of you or anyone else, this could be a sign of his normal demeanour.

If the person is vague about their age, marital status, employment or any other relevant subjects, it is likely that he or she is hiding something. Another sign of this is refusal to speak to you on the phone even after establishing a relationship with you.
If his or her online persona is markedly different from their offline persona, be wary. Also, it is unwise to introduce him or her to family, friends, or professional colleagues until you are sure he or she is genuine and safe.

Whether you choose to meet in person and form a relationship offline is up to you. The beauty of internet communication at first is that it gives you a chance to get to know a reasonable amount about this person before meeting. This allows you to make an informed choice and even if you arrange a meeting, you still have the right to change your mind. If it doesn’t feel right, trust your gut feeling.

When choosing to meet offline, pick a public place that is busy so that there are lots of people around. Find your own transport to and from the venue and let someone know where you will be. Until you have built up a rapport and trust the other person (not on the first date), do not give him your home address. That could be a recipe for trouble further down the track.

Never be afraid to get out of there if anything makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom and head out the back door if necessary. Your safety is paramount and it is better to bail out of an uncomfortable situation than to find yourself in over your head.

Of course, meeting someone online is very similar to meeting offline in many ways. Offline or online, there are always liars, cheats and other unsavoury characters. Dating is a risky business but taking a few safety precautions can protect you in the mating game.