The world has changed exponentially since we were children. We were brought up never to get into cars with strangers, and never to speak to people that we’ve never met. Now, we call strangers with cars to our homes and hop into them via Uber, and we sign up to online dating sites because the world has become a place where we are working so much to survive that we don’t have time for a social life. In the early days of the Internet it was very common to never meet somebody in person that you’d only met online.
You may have seen in Harry Potter that Arthur Weasley once warned Ginny never to speak to something if you could not see where it kept its brain. It’s a nice sentiment, but most people have normalized Internet dating and in fact, there are some people out there who have gone from Internet dating to Googling the K-3 visa requirements together because they’re going to get married. There are plenty of people who go online and meet the love of their lives, but there are others that it doesn’t work for so well and you often see those stories in the news headlines. The most important thing is safety, so here are some tips that you might need before you meet somebody online.
- Vet them before you meet. It’s smart to give out as little information about yourself as possible online, but it becomes a little bit hypocritical if you expect the person you’re going to meet to give out all of their information. The irony here is that your very first goal should be to vet someone first before you meet them. You can find them on LinkedIn, or other social media sites to verify whether or not they are truthful about their jobs or about their relationship status. You can also run a background check if you have the ability.
- Talk on the phone first. You have to build up a relationship when you meet somebody online, and it doesn’t mean meeting them the same day that you have your first hello. Swapping phone numbers and having a few FaceTime conversations or voice calls can really be helpful to make sure that you feel safe when you go to meet them in person.
- Only meet in a public place. When you do feel comfortable enough to meet somebody off the Internet, make sure that you are only meeting in a public place. Do not allow them to come to your home to pick you up, and do not allow them to take you home at the end of the date. You need to be able to keep your address private for as long as possible until you feel like they can be trusted. Having a taxi driver to and from the venue is important.
- Tell a friend. If you plan to meet somebody off the Internet, screenshot their picture that they have given you and any FaceTime videos that you do together you should screenshot a picture of them while they talk, and hand that picture to a friend. Then give your friend their license plate number, and the location of your date so that they can follow up with you. Activate the Find My Phone Finder on your phone and keep your friends linked to that so they will be able to find you should something happen. It sounds over the top, I know, but it’s also a good way to keep yourself safe.