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Online Dating Advice

Online dating is a fun and convenient way to meet your potential soul mate. After all, who wouldn't love the idea of sitting in the comfort, safety and convenience of their own home, while browsing potential love interests on the internet? With virtually thousands of online dating services, it is inevitable that some members may run into problems from time to time. While a surprising amount of singles find love and companionship through online dating websites, others have fallen victim to the pitfalls of online dating. While some of these negative attributes and outcomes are out of the member's control, others can be prevented. Some of the most common drawbacks are detailed below, along with tips and advice on how you can protect yourself from being affected.

Privacy Infringement

One of the main concerns singles may have with online dating is the idea that their privacy may become compromised. Of course, any time you put your personal information on the internet, you may be subjecting yourself to an invasion of privacy. Examples of privacy concerns include email and street addresses and phone numbers being sold to companies for commercial use. The easiest way to avoid this situation is to not give away personal information pertaining to where you live or work. It may also be a good idea to create a new "junk" email account that can be used for online dating, which prevents your regular email account from being exploited. Another way to avoid this situation is to become educated on the online dating site's policy regarding privacy concerns. If the website does not seem legitimate, do not register. Because most online dating websites require membership fees, credit card and bank account information may be obtained by hackers or improper protection of the information by the dating service. Ensuring that the site has a valid security certificate is essential. This can be determined in a number of ways. One way is to locate the secure site symbol, usually a padlock, somewhere on the website or browser toolbar. Another way is to look in the address bar during checkout, to see if the address contains "https" in the beginning. The "s" in the URL signifies that it is a secure page.

Member Identity Misrepresentation

Perhaps the biggest concern of online dating is the fact that anyone can register and pretend to be someone whom they are not. Oftentimes, members lie in their profiles about their looks, career and earnings, personal belongings and interests, and may use a photo that is not of themselves. This is never a good idea. Not only is it misleading, but if you expect to gain a lasting relationship through the service, the truth will come out eventually. This can result in embarrassment and hurt feelings for both parties. It is important to remember to be honest in your profile and interactions with other online dating members; you would not be happy if you were the one being deceived.

Safety Issues

Sexual predators can easily take advantage of a member's trust, which can put the member in potentially dangerous situations. The true identity of a member can be more difficult to identify, but is essential to the safety of the member. Upon finding interest in another member, it is important to have several phone conversations with the person in order to gauge the person's character, and to identify any strange behavior. It may also be helpful to try and locate the person on social media websites to verify their identity and personality. Of course, this may be easier said than done, as meeting in person is the only true way to truly judge a person's character. When meeting in person, always meet in a crowded, public place, drive separately, tell someone where you will be and when, and never invite the person to your home. Con-artists and thieves may also use face to face interactions to steal from online dating members. This is why it is important to never leave your date alone with your belongings. For example, women should never leave their purse, or even their beverages, unattended. It is also a good idea to avoid alcohol, at least for the first few dates.

These pitfalls are not meant to scare singles away from utilizing online services; rather, they are to inform them to be cautious, safe, and honest in their representation and interactions. Online dating services may have had a bad reputation in the past, because of scammers, con-artists, and sexual predators, but as the world evolves technologically, more and more people are turning to online dating to truly find love. This often results in a more honest online dating pool, and the increased possibility of finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. While those who are fearful of online dating may rely on finding dates in person (such as in bars or stores), it is important to remember that people can lie and misrepresent themselves when meeting face-to-face, as well. Meeting new people and entering the dating pool can be scary for anyone, so investigating online dating services and their benefits can be very helpful. Locate a site that services your area, and see for yourself. You may be surprised at what you find.