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Dating today often means venturing online to meet new people. Doing so can be a little scary when you no doubt have heard horror stories about online dating. For the most part, the people that you will meet are just normal singles like you who are looking to expand their dating pool. In fact, setting up a dating profile puts you in touch with potential partners who you might not have a chance to meet in your day-to-day life. However, it’s smart to be cautious by using the following strategies to stay safe and make sure that you really know who you are dealing with before you meet offline.

Use a Reputable Dating App

There are countless dating sites and apps today, each seeming to offer something different. While dating apps such as Tinder require a little more than a brief blurb and a picture, others require lengthier processes that give you more background information. Spend some time exploring the options that are available until you find one that you are comfortable using.

Avoid Giving Personal Details

Potential matches are naturally going to want to hear about your interests and some basics about your lifestyle, yet you do not have to reveal your full name or phone number during the first few connections. Instead, focus on learning as much as you can about the other person. Later, you can exchange an email address that allows you to set up a way to meet. For now, just enjoy having a few flirty conversations that allow you to see if their story adds up from one day to the next.

Watch For Inconsistencies

People who are serious about dating don’t want to lie because they know that you will eventually find out the truth. However, you can confirm people’s claims by watching for inconsistencies in their behavior and language. For instance, someone who claims that they work long hours as a surgeon likely will not have the time to message on the app at any hour of the day. Alternatively, you can be certain that a potential match really is an avid swimmer if you see lots of photos of them swimming in competitions posted on their profile.

Talk On the Phone Before Meeting

After you have talked online for a while, it will be time to move on to the phone. Hearing your match’s voice will give you even more clues that they are the person who they claim they are. For instance, it is pretty hard to fake being a 24-year-old man when you have the voice of a 55-year-old man. You can also pick up nuances of their personality during your phone calls such as whether or not they wait for you to finish talking before they speak. For many people, the first phone call is all it takes to know that it is time to meet.

Plan Your Date Carefully

By the time that you are ready to meet in person, you should be pretty certain that you are meeting someone honest. However, it is still important to plan to meet your date in a public place. Ideally, it should be in a place where there is a decent crowd but still quiet enough for you to get to know each other. Coffee shops, parks or even a little diner down the street are all great options for meeting a match for the first time offline.

Always Have an Exit Strategy

Doing a little prep work can help you if things do not go as you planned. Have a friend text or call you during the date just to check in and make sure that everything is okay. If necessary, you can always tell your date that a minor emergency arose and you need to leave. While this hopefully won’t be necessary, it’ll give you more confidence as you head out to meet someone new.

As you dip your toe into the online dating world, it is important to be careful. However, you should also keep in mind that your potential matches are likely just as nervous as you are about meeting someone new. By going into your new dating plan with both eyes open, you can sift through any bad matches to uncover the potential new love of your life.

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