Online dating safety is important for singles looking for love on the Internet. We all want to find love, and usually the sooner, the better. What if you could have one phone number devoted exclusively to dating? Would you be more likely to be handing out your calling card?
If you’re hesitant to give out your home or cell phone number to someone who you’ve only corresponded via email with, you should be right. But there are several options to maintain your privacy while still scheduling dates on your calendar.
For my dating coaching clients, I often recommend that they sign up for a Google Voice account. Using Google Voice is free and is simple to use.
To get started, visit Google.com/voice to set up your account. The simplest way is to link your cell phone number so you can receive calls while you’re out and about. You’ll have the opportunity to select a custom phone number from several choices. Go ahead and reserve one for dating purposes. Take it one step further and order a social calling card with your new unique dating phone number on it.
Once you select your phone number, you’ll have the opportunity to record your name. I suggest using just your first name. Let him hear your voice and know you aren’t just a voicemail service.
You should record an outgoing greeting as well. Google will magically call your cell phone number and allow you to record your message. The good news is your inbound messages can be transcribed to you and received via text. If you’d like to screen your calls, Google voice provides this service as well. I advise singles to have this deactivated, as it could be a deterrent to having someone actually complete the call and leave you a message. You can always turn it on at a future time.
Do you only want to receive calls from your dates during specific times? No problem. Google voice lets you control weekday and weekend calls as well as the times you’d like your phone to ring. Otherwise, the messages will go to your Google voicemail box.
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At least once a month I am contacted by someone in the media to talk about online dating safety. It’s a hot-button for me and I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure that singles are safely looking for love online.
Over the weekend, The New York Times posted an article about the latest background check services available for online daters. The piece, written by Stephanie Rosenbloom, New Online-Date Detectives Can Unmask Mr. or Ms. Wrong, discussed a variety of services have popped up on the Internet to check out your date before you mate, or even before you click reply to his or her latest email.
Sites such as MyMatchChecker.com, ValiMate, Date Check make it easier to check out your date during the courting stages. One should realize that these services are not limited to online dating. You should use the same common sense methods for offline dating. The bottom line is, you should trust your intuition and take your time.
Still, the question is being asked of me on Twitter daily since the Times piece and subsequent follow up article on Forbes.com, The Perils of Online Dating and Talking About Broken Marriages with the New York Times posted by Kashmir Hill.
There’s a reason my book is titled, The Perils of Cyber-Dating. As a smart woman and successful Internet executive during the dotcom days, I was too busy to check out the man I married and later divorced. Had I done a background check on him, I would not have married him. It was time to turn lemons into lemonade and pay it forward.
So here is my take on To Check, or Not to Check your date out thoroughly in advance.
1. Do a simple Google search, but don’t discuss it on your first date.
2. Use your intuition and see if his or her stories add up. Do they work where they say they do? Do the communications via email and phone match up to who you believe you are scheduled to meet? If not, take a pass. There will always be another email in your inbox.
3. Go ahead and search if you must, but remember, not all of the information is always accurate.
4. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Everyone is bound to have something that doesn’t check out well. Perhaps he or she has bad credit due to the economy or a recent divorce. There’s no need to toss them out just yet if that is the case, but if you see a series of lawsuits piled up under his or her name, you might have reason to be concerned.
More women are in favor of doing a background check in advance of a first date to make sure he isn’t “Married,” or “Separated, Divorce Pending.” Finding out your date is a felon is something you must know, but worrying that each date could be with a felon will actually be counter-productive to your dating process.
Most men are worrying that the woman won’t look like her photos. Yes, men are visual. It’s at the top of their list.
As far as online dating sites being required to have a background search on each member, I am in favor of them providing the option for each member to do a background search from an outside company. My big concern is that if the information isn’t accurate, someone will blame the Internet dating site and more lawsuits will arise. I do believe each site should have an advice section on online dating safety. Whether commonsense or not, when it comes to matters of the heart, all bets are usually off when love and chemistry are involved. Better safe, than sorry.
I have contributed to the following online dating safety articles to help you feel safe at home, or at least on that first date. Feel free to read and comment.
ABC News – Should Online Dating Sites Be Required to Do Background Checks?
CBS News – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day
CNET – Find Love Online This Valentine’s Day–Safely
Cyber-Dating Expert – 5 Online Dating Safety Tips
Cyber-Dating Expert - Tyra Banks on Online Dating
Cyber-Dating Expert – Cyberdating Safety Tips
eHow – Cyber Dating Safety
Examiner – How Safe is Your Date?
FOX News – Cyber Dating Safety
Genconnect TV – Online Dating Safety Tips (Vide0)
Huffington Post – Online Dater Convicted of Assault
Huffington Post - To Sext, or Not to Sext
John Tesh - Criminals Could Be on the Dating Websites You Join
PC World – How to Scope Someone Out Online
Sympatico.ca – How to Spot a Cyber Player
Sympatico.ca – Protect Yourself Against Cyber Dating Scams
The Smart and Pretty - The Perils of Cyber-Dating and How to Avoid Them
WPIX – Cyberdating Safety (Video)
Your Tango – 7 Signs He’s Dating You For Your Money
Online dating is a fun and flirty way to meet a lot of people. If you’re ego has recently been bruised from a breakup or you just haven’t been in a relationship for awhile, before you get started, read my Top 5 cyberdating safety tips to make sure you’re dating safely while looking for love online.
1. Always meet in a public place. Having a home cooked candlelight meal may seem romantic on the phone or in a text message, but in real-life, you may be headed towards the bedroom prematurely. Whether it’s coffee, lunch, or a walk in the park, pick a place where others will see you. If you need to yell for help, you’ll have the chance to be heard.
2. Don’t give out your home phone number. Phone numbers can easily be traced to your home addresses. If your date goes south, the last thing you want is to have a stalker at your door. Give out your cell phone number and keep your exact home address to yourself until you get to know your date better.
3. Don’t talk about finances. Conversations with someone you are meeting for the first time should be light and friendly. Don’t reveal banking information or let them know if you are about to receive a large bonus or an inheritance or you might find your date has ulterior motives.
4. Get your friends involved. Create a buddy system where you always tell a friend who you are going out with on a first date. Provide the screen name, site you met your date on, and the name of the restaurant. Check in with your friend during the date. Let them know you are fine, or if you are uncomfortable, just leave. You don’t need to explain why you are leaving.
5. Trust your intuition. Your instincts are usually good. If someone is changing plans last minute and suggests a late night date or convinces you to meet at their home, take a rain check.
These online dating safety tips are mostly common sense, but sometimes your judgment can be impaired when you’re thrilled with the excitement of your new date.
Apply these rules to those you meet offline as well. Don’t get caught up in the romance and end up in trouble. You really don’t know who is hiding behind their computer screen.
Listen to Ask the Cyber-Dating Expert Radio Show where Julie Spira spoke with Tasha Cunningham, founder of DontDateHimGirl.com and author DontDateHimGirl.com Presents – So the Bastard Broke Your Heart, Now What?
Tasha’s dating advice book was inspired by her frustration of reading books on how women need to change to find a man and realized that the women needed to change to become more confident for themselves.
Tasha recommends you create the Don’t Date Him Girl list, where you identify 5 things about the past 5 relationships to see what your dating patterns and what you didn’t like about each of these relationships.
We talked about online dating safety and how to protect your Internet identity by doing your homework and research before getting too emotionally involved.
Learn about the ten-step guide to help you get your “brokenhearted butt” in gear and break your addiction to bad boyfriends while looking for love online.
Say Goodbye to your Online Date
I received an email in my Inbox today from JDate®, the largest online dating site for Jewish singles announcing their new all-block feature. The email simply said, “JDate’s Got Your Block.” It was a catchy email and got my attention.
Now at the bottom of each online dating profile on their site, you have the ability to say goodbye forever to the bad date or former beau who broke your heart while looking for love online.
Since cyberdating safety is such a hot issue now, I think this is a great move from JDate. It’s simple to use and not much different than Facebook’s blocking feature. If you want to block someone for inappropriate behavior or someone you simply don’t want to have looking at your personal and online identities, here’s instructions on how to block your date:
1. You pull up a profile of someone you are interested in blocking.
2. At the bottom of the profile, it will say Report a Concern and the word Block.
3. Click on Block and a drop down menu will appear with the choice of:
- Block member from contacting you
- Block member from appearing in your search results
- Block member from viewing your profile in his/her search results
4. Click Submit and you’re done.
Voila! You have erased that person from your search and from contacting you, should you desire.
Should you use their blocking features? I think it’s terrific that you are given a choice of options. From putting one toe in to the entire 10, the selection is up to you.
Naturally, the person you have blocked may realize you have done so, but dating should be about a matter of choice. If you’re uncomfortable, then go ahead and block someone. If you want to leave the door open for future communication, then I suggest you don’t block him or her. They won’t be happy to see you have done so.
For those who haven’t been able to get over their ex and are obsessively looking at their profile, this feature is for you.
At the end of the day, you’ll want to enjoy your experience and find someone to meet online rather than spend time on deciding which profiles you should block.
Will you use their blocking feature? Comments are always appreciated.
Note: Screen shot taken from my personal profile on JDate’s site
Interested in trying JDate? Click here to join
In a recent interview with PC World, I was asked about online dating romances. Too often we have a false sense of illusion that we are in a relationship because of all of the online communications. This is where knowledge of online dating safety comes in.
“Keep in mind, you are communicating with someone you have never met before,” advises Julie Spira, author of the bestseller The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online .
“Take your relationship from online to offline as soon as possible to see if there is any chemistry,” Spira says.
Read the article by Hillary Rhodes on PC World for more tips on finding out if your online beau or beauty is worth investing in an airline ticket for.
Tyra Banks featured a segment on her show about online dating, hook ups, and sexting.
She started The Tyra Show by stating that 60% of women say the Internet has changed their sex lives. She asked the audience to stand up if they had ever sex texted. Very few were willing to admit they had indulged in the habit. Tyra said she had an audience full of liars.
On the program Tyra said, “Personally I am not against online dating. There are a million steps you need to take before meeting that person, in person.”
Tyra doesn’t recommend meeting someone online if you are a teenager. “Please do not do that. It’s not safe,” she said. I have to agree. Most online dating sites require you to be 18 years or older to sign up.
Tyra’s panel consisted of four women in favor of sexting, and four who were vehemently against it for safety and self-esteem reasons.
One panelist said she likes to sex-text her boyfriend before he goes to sleep at night. Another panelist says it helps her relationship with her boyfriend while she is away at college.
I subscribe to the safety first theory. Just last week I was a guest on WPIX in New York with Tamsen Fadal and the subject was, cyber-dating safety. I provided some ways to date online, safely, which included:
- Don’t give out your last name
- Don’t give out your home address
- Don’t talk about money
- If you’re uncomfortable, leave
Keep in mind, your online communication often becomes public record and can be indexed by Google and the search engines. Think twice before pressing the send button, turning on your webcam, or uploading that risky video. If your relationship doesn’t end well, you don’t want your sexting history out there for the world to see.
Read my full article @Huffington Post
Julie Spira is known worldwide as the Cyber-Dating Expert. She is the author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. Visit her at CyberDatingExpert.com
Online dating is a terrific way to meet someone when your friends aren’t fixing you up anymore. However, you don’t know who is behind the computer screen just yet.
Today we talked about some of my recommended online dating safety tips.
• Never Give Out Your Last Name – Protect your identity
• Never Give Out Your Address – I suggest that singles consider using a P.O. box for their mailing address
• Never Talk About Money – First date conversations should be light and casual
• Always Meet In A Public Place – If you uncomfortable, you can always leave
• Use the “Buddy System” (Telling a Friend Where You’ll Be and Who You’ll Be With)
Practice these tips for safe cyberdating and enjoy the experience while looking for love online.