Without a shared history or mutual friends, the people feel interchangeable." Jeff N., 55, says that he has slowly warmed up to online dating: "I used to be very shy about it and still don't feel entirely comfortable.Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned; I like to meet in person first and then see where things go, rather than communicating online, then meeting the person and seeing if they live up to expectations," However, he adds, "Online dating forces you to be more outgoing, and it is an easy way to potentially connect with a lot people, especially if one isn't in many social situations."I did Google religiously when vetting a cyber-date prospect, to try to find out as much as I could about him -- and thus assure myself that he was who he said he was.I could see that he had a Facebook friend with whom I'd gone to college.
But in the online dating world, meeting strangers can be scary and poses a whole host of challenges, among them money scams and identity theft.
Here are a few safety tips you should know before you go looking for love online, with some reassurances from seasoned "virtual" daters. Wait until you actually meet the person and build up a level of trust before you share your address, phone number or real email address.
(You typically use an encrypted email on these sites.) Stay local.
Apparently it is easier for scammers to work their magic long-distance, where it is more challenging for them to get caught. While scams are often local, many come from abroad.
Keep on the lookout for hardship stories: This person should be courting you, not asking for an emergency handout! Upload a potential date's photograph on Tin Eye, which will let you see where else on the Internet the photo has appeared. Their messages are filled with bad grammar and often have an odd tone.
(Consider the fake Nigerian prince email scams so many of us have received.) , and creator of profiles for singles via Cyber Dating
"Dating sites (usually) take their members' safety issues very seriously and make it easy for you to report any suspicious profiles or serious problems right away.
Some sites even offer the member an option to sign up for a background check." Here are her top tips:• Do a Google search for your date's name. • Use Google Voice and create a phone number exclusive to dating. • If you're uncomfortable on a date for any reason, just get up and walk out. The online daters I spoke to voiced mixed feelings about their experiences.
Have it forward to your cell phone, so your dates don't know your cell or home phone number. "I'm still a little wary about it and would prefer the 'love at first sight while petting a dog experience,'" says Agatha B., age 27.
And despite enjoying a handful of dates, 24-year old Patricia B.
feels that online dating is "a little bit like picking someone out of a catalog.