Safety Tips for Online Dating
By Sharon Woolley
If you’re tired of being single and looking to meet that special someone, you’re certainly not alone. According to the US Census Bureau, there are 95.9 million unmarried people in the US, and 53 percent are women.
With those kinds of odds, how in the world do we go about finding our lifelong love?
Meeting someone we’d like to date is just not that easy in the real world. It’s determined by the lifestyle we lead and the work we do. We’re all busier than we’ve ever been, with far less time for socializing. Many of us are now working more hours per week, or even working more than one job. And those of us who are moms have schoolwork, play dates, sports practice and scout activities to juggle on top of a job and an attempt at a social life. Most of us are just tired of the whole dating scene – the fix-ups, the bars, the expense, the time — and especially the Mr. Wrongs that seemed so right in the beginning.
Online dating can be an easy and convenient solution, so it is no surprise it has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The top online dating sites alone have more than three million members, so we’d be hard pressed not to find someone with whom we share common interests and goals. Many singles actually make it a point to reserve nights at home dedicated to searching, browsing, and contacting potential suitors and future spouses via the Internet.
According to Jupiter Research, the online dating industry is predicted to hit $932 million in sales this year, which means that the social stigma of cyber-dating has been lifted, as more and more people have jumped on the bandwagon.
Is it time for you to start looking online for the love of your life? If so, here are some simple tips and precautions to help guide you through the process:
Never let your cyber-date rush you into meeting them until you’re really ready. And when you do meet, make it a public place during daylight hours. Take a friend with you or let them know where you’ll be and who you’re with. Some people even set up a plan for a prearranged call from a friend and the use of a “safe word” if they feel uncomfortable and want the date to end. Keep in mind that if something feels wrong, it probably is. Go with your gut Be aware that not everyone on a dating site is honest, nice – or even normal. More than 30% of those who pass themselves off as single are really married or involved. Stalkers, cyberbullys and even child predators who use mothers to get to their kids, flock to these sites. The best way to keep yourself safe online is to install monitoring software, such as Spector Pro, on your own computer. This software records everything anyone sends you – every chat, IM, email, picture, or website. Not only can you use the software to block someone that bothers you, you also have all the information you will ever need should you want to contact the authorities or the dating site administrator. Make sure your monitoring software is recording at all times before going online. Be smart, even though you are protected. Never give out personal information at the start of the online dating process and supply only your first name and vague information about where you work or live. When you’re finally ready to start communication outside the dating site, set up separate email and IM accounts used only for that purpose. Every conversation on these sites should also be recorded. Do your research about dating sites and go with a reputable company that meets your needs. Most matchmaking sites have somewhat different approaches. Some cater to particular interests or religions, some charge for their services, and others are free — at least temporarily — because they make money from advertising. Find the ones you feel most comfortable with and be honest when filling out your profile and submitting your picture. Women most often tweak their real age and weight, and men, their career information. And finally, notify both the dating site and local authorities if you feel threatened or uncomfortable. Inform them that your monitoring software has recorded everything, including actual screen snapshots. It’s also a good idea to share your login and password with a trusted friend or relative, in the event you should become unable to assist authorities.
Sharon Woolley is a recognized online safety and online dating expert, presently working with SpectorSoft Corporation, the leader in monitoring and surveillance software for home and business. She can be reached at 772-770-5670 x 2774; or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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