Online dating is a popular way to meet people now, but it can be a jungle out there….trust me I know! Find out what you should know and how to keep yourself safe, along with some tips for a better online dating profile.
We’re going to talk about safety and privacy. People you should avoid and what type of dating site is right for you. And how to make your profile more appealing.
Online Dating Safety Tips
There are a lot of predators out there and you need to protect yourself. I’m sure you understand what I’m saying, although most guys don’t seem to get it…but then they aren’t afraid to walk down dark alleys by themselves. So I’m going to give you some ideas of how to prevent some potentially dangerous situations, and they may seem rude to men but it’s you we’re talking about and you need to take care of yourself.
A lot of people say things about themselves that seem innocent enough, but you might slip and say something that could lead to having a stalker find you. I had a friend mention she worked at a pool hall part time, sort of by mistake, turned out the guy knew which pool hall it was when he asked if she knew the owner (who was his friend). This didn’t turn out badly, which is lucky for her, but it could have been a bad situation.
You may think that these precautions are a bit much, but I know from experience and watched the experience of my friends to know that it is far better to be careful now, then to end up in trouble later.
Follow these steps to get yourself ready for online dating:
- Pick a different name, don’t ever ever use your real name, it can give you away and compromise your safety.
- Set up a whole new email account, make sure the email is something unrelated to you, or very general. Like firstname.lastname@example.org or something. You don’t want a person to look at the email and know exactly who you are, so don’t put your name in there. It doesn’t matter which email you use, be it gmail, hotmail, yahoo, etc. Although with that being said, pick an email according to what you want to do. If you want msn and chatting, maybe go with hotmail or something. And the great part is email accounts are free so there is no reason not to set one up. Also when you are filling out the forms for the email do not use your real name, sometimes that shows up as the sender in the other persons email box, so even then, use a fake name.
- Evaluate the online dating sites, find something that you feel would work well for you (see below for different types of dating sites).
- Decide if you want to use msn or some sort of chat program. It’s very popular to use these programs, and 90% of people are going to ask if you have it or request that you add them. There are pros and cons to using these programs though. I used to use them but eventually stopped. I found that if you were added by many people on msn, it was hard to keep track of all of them, then you risk insulting them. I also found the second I went on there I was bombarded by people saying hi and wanting to chat, very overwhelming to have 10 conversations on the go. But on the other hand, its a really easy way to get to know someone and it’s sometimes better in live time, you know how long it takes them to think of an answer, whereas with email, they might have taken 2 hours to write you back. So the choice is up to you. When I had to say I didn’t have msn, I just said it was distracting me from my homework, which was true.
- Decide if you want to use a web cam or not. If you decide you do not want to use a web cam but have one hooked up, unhook it, many sites show that you have a web cam available and a lot of people don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to use it. So why wouldn’t you? Many reasons, first they can see your surroundings, which you may or may not care about, it’s an invasion of privacy (and trust me they look at the stuff around you). Second they can see your every facial expression and you can give away more then you think. And the rest is really a matter of personal comfort level. It’s certainly easier to get to know someone through email or msn to start with. Why would you want to use a web cam? Well for all the above reasons about why you wouldn’t but it reveals the other person to you.
Chatting – What you shouldn’t reveal
- I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, don’t use your real name! Use a nickname or a phony name altogether, until you feel you can trust the person enough to say your name. If your dating in your home town or city, sure there might be people on there who know you from your picture, but that doesn’t mean everyone should know you. Safety first ladies!
- It is ok to tell your age, but it is not ok to tell them your birthdate. That is information no one needs, that information is often used in government documents or other things that can give you away.
- Do not tell them where you work, heck don’t even tell them exactly what industry you work in. You can say things like lawyer, or doctor (don’t say of what though, unless you can trust the person), artist, fashion industry, etc…I tell you this because you don’t want that person to just show up at your work.
- Don’t give any personal family information out, for your safety and theirs.
- Don’t tell them where you live…I think that’s obvious, but you never know.
- Do not give out your phone number. You don’t need some creep calling you all the time. Plus if your listed they can find you.
The First Date
The first date can be very nerve wrecking, but follow a few simple steps to make sure it goes safely.
- Don’t jump into meeting him, chat or email with this person for a couple of weeks or until your ready to meet this person, what I’m saying is don’t chat with him today and decide to meet him tomorrow
- Do not meet at your house, by now you’ve probably given him your phone number, but you don’t have to, but you still shouldn’t tell him where you live, and I hope your number isn’t listed with your address. So he shouldn’t be picking you up, he should be meeting you.
- Tell a friend where your going, give him or her all the details you have, including where your going, who your going with, when they should expect you home. Also give them his number and email or anything where he can be traced.
- Meet in a public place this is more vital then you think. One of the best first internet dates you can have is at a coffee shop, it can be considered romantic or casual. Try to pick a place you’ve been before so you know the layout and won’t get lost. The great thing about this is it’s public and you can have your friends sit somewhere in the coffee shop or wherever and they can help you scope him out. They can also help you if you need help.
- Plan an escape route make sure you have a way out if the date is going just awful, or your scared of him. You can do this a number of ways. You can have a friend call you to check up on you. You can go to the bathroom and text a friend to get them to call you. Spill something on yourself so badly you have to go home and change. Let me know if you have any clever ways of doing this. Fortuneatly I havn’t had to do any of that before, and you shouldn’t have to if you’re screening the guys properly.
- Don’t go home/leave with him. Do I really need to explain that? You just met the guy, don’t push it if you want him to respect you.
- Leave after he leaves…why? Because if the guy is a creep he might just follow you home. But just because you leave last doesn’t mean he won’t find a way to follow you. If you suspect your being followed, do not head home, go a different direction and go straight to the police station. You don’t have to go into the station necessarily….but if you pull up there it will probably scare him away.
What to Avoid When Dating Online
Online dating can seem innocent enough, and your probably there for all the right reasons, to meet new people and hopefully find a love connection. However, there are people who are not there for the same reason as you. There are many reasons why people go on there, here’s a few that you need to avoid.
- Cheaters – He already has someone, might be married, but wants someone on the side or someone to replace the one he’s got…it’s hard to avoid this because you won’t know until you get to know the person and even then, no guarantee.
- Creeps – A creep could be a lot of things, if you get a weird vibe from someone, just trust your instincts and run the other way. These are usually the stalker, insecure type.
- Serial Dater – Date after date after date, the guy is just not satisfied and isn’t really interested in you, just dating as many women as he can. You’ll know this one by how fast he’s trying to set a date up.
- Sexaholic – This is the same lines as the serial dater, but he’s just out there for sex. Don’t go with someone like this, you really risk getting an STI. You’ll know this guy by how he talks to you, if he only wants to see pictures or web cam or doesn’t show an interest in you, just when your available.
- Family Man – This guy is looking to settle down, have the home, the kids, which sounds great right? Except he’s not looking for Miss Right, he just wants someone who’s going to live the dream out with him. He would be getting married for all the wrong reasons. You can tell this guy by how heavily he pushes the kids and marriage issue in the first few conversations, or by what it says in the profile.
Make a Better Online Dating Profile
Lets start with the photo, as that will be the first thing that attracts any prospective daters.
1. Pick a good, flattering picture of yourself. A portrait pic usually works the best, shoulders and up. this shows more of what you look like and can help draw interest. Pictures that have full body shots or action shots are overlooked as the thumbnail image is so small.
2. When you chose a picture make sure you are staring right at the camera and smiling with those pearly whites. They say subconsciously that people who look right at the camera are perceived as more attractive by the viewer.
3. Take several digital photos of yourself, heck take 20, then pick the best.
4. Always crop out unnecessary background. The dating sites will usually just post whatever it is you give them. Also consider resizing the image if it is too large, not all dating sites will re size the image, and no one needs to be able to see your pores.
There are a lot of ways you can do your profile and it will really be dependent on what your looking for. The profile is not the place to put your most intimate details, you need to save something to talk about, and it’s no ones business. A good way of going about it is to write honestly. Why do I say that? If your honest with yourself about who you are and what you want, you are more likely to find someone who values you for who you are and shares the same desires.
When you fill out the questionnaires, answer them honestly.
My philosophy is don’t lie, just don’t lie (it’s ok to lie about your name at first, see the Safety section above). If you find someone you really like and you have lied to them about something, say your age or goals for example, lies always come out in the end. This person will have a different view of you when they find out you lied, so why risk it? You’ll just drive them away when things start to get good. A lie is not a good way to start the foundation of a relationship. Besides, you want them to like you for YOU.
So now your ready to write about yourself. Feel free to make a couple of rough drafts, give them to a friend to look them over. But how do we write about ourselves to strangers in a way that would be appealing. Start by writing as if you’re writing to a friend, that will make it easier. Here are some key things you should include:
- Your age if there isn’t a box for it already.
- What your currently doing, student, working, in transition…
- What you like to do in your spare time.
- Your goals and aspirations.
- What you are looking for in a relationship.
And if the space is to small for all of that, then just include the important stuff, the stuff you feel is important.
When you write this, the point of thinking of it as writing to a friend is so your personality is in the writing, you don’t want to sound like wikipedia….
Don’t write things that you think men want to hear, don’t try to please them. If you do, you’ve set them up for disappointment, and yourself too, you won’t get that you really want. For example, don’t put that you don’t want kids, unless you really don’t want kids. You’d be surprised to know that there are less men out there looking for that, a lot of them want a family or are thinking about it, but not too many have put their foot down and said absolutely no kids.
Remember too that even though you put something in your profile, doesn’t mean the guy actually read it, or he might be ignoring it. You may have guys contact you that want something different, it’s up to you if you want to get to know that person. If a guy is contacting you solely on your photo and hasn’t read your profile, I’d say that’s a red flag.
A lot of guys (who are looking for a real relationship) want to hear about your goals and ambitions, they don’t want someone who has nothing planned for their life and just want to coast along. A lot of guys don’t want gold diggers either, so don’t go on the site with that intention, a lot of them will see right through it. If a guy has posted his income, especially when it isn’t required, that may not be a good thing, unless you want a guy who just wants to buy a girl, but by stating the income it’s a form of bait, an attempt to get you to contact them because they “say” they have money. There are a lot of dishonest people out there, so take it with a grain of salt.
How to Chose a Dating Site
Lots of dating sites out there, and I’m not going to list them all, they all have their pros and cons and you just need to decide if it’s right for you. There are some things you can look for so you know what kind of site it really is and what kind of people are there.
Paid Site vs. Free Site
Free sites allow anyone to join, regardless of income, which is not a bad thing. But it also means that people with different intentions then yours will be there. They might not be using the site for what it’s really for, or they aren’t serious about finding a wonderful relationship.
If it’s a paid site your more likely to find people who are there for a serious relationship, as they aren’t going to throw the money away.
Dating Site vs. Physical Encounters Site
I think it’s kind of obvious what you’ll find at a more sex related site. People are there for sex, essentially it can be a meat market. It’s possible you might find a meaningful relationship, but that isn’t why people join those sites. If you want to date and find a relationship just stick with the dating sites.
Meet New People vs. Dating
There is a difference in these sites, some sites are there so you can social network, meet new people for whatever reason. So not all people are there for dating, they might be looking to find a friend or just someone to chat with. You’ll need to be careful and see if they are single and looking or aren’t there for that reason at all. It’s not a bad thing to try if you just want to meet new people.