One thing overlooked in the casual-nature of online dating is, safety. Throughout innocent correspondence, our minds drive us toward potential love over any rational thought of protecting ourselves. Now is the time to paint a picture of what could be lurking in your mailbox.
You receive a message from an attractive, intelligent individual, according to his or her profile photos and message. Months of sharing stories go by and suddenly the two of you are talking on the phone and setting up an in-person meeting. The date goes famously and you’re hooked. He or she drops you off and the next morning, you find a note under your door expressing how much the other enjoyed the evening. It’s romantic and you are driven toward this person like no other. You chat briefly online before you leave for the day, without signing out. You return to your computer later with emails and an extended message from your date accusing you of avoiding him or her all day to see someone else. You block him or her on AIM, email, Facebook and even the dating site you met on, but you can never take back your address unless you move. Now what?
This issue cannot be stressed enough. Never reveal your address. If you’re meeting someone for the first, even third time, drive separately to a destination and make sure you’re not being followed. Paranoia is not being lobbied here, but take precautions before revealing anything. Restraining orders will not prevent the obsessed from pursuing you.
Unfortunately, meeting in-person, (in a public place) will be the only means of completely knowing the person you’ve spent so much time online for. Last names and addresses should never be revealed until you’ve met in-person several times. You will feel inclined to Facebook friend someone immediately to get to know them better, but keep in mind, this reveals your last name, where you live, where you attended college and in some cases, where you work.
Tell several people where you’re going before you leave for a date, meet in a public place and stick to general information on the date. You will learn a lot about the person that night and nights to follow online. If the information continues to match the person on their profile, you may be safe, but always allow time to tell. Stalkers arrive when you least expect them to.