I've noticed a larger than average number of bad online dating stories hitting the news of late discussing court cases related to online daters who abused the system and cheated someone out of money, sex, intimacy, household items, or more nefarious things I'd rather not go into here.
For instance, the Brisbane Times ran an article about 47-year old Des Campbell, a single-parent widower who claimed to be a childless divorcee to seduce dozens of women into sexual relationships, and who was questioned at the inquest of his wife's death.
Although there is no way to keep yourself absolutely safe when meeting people - whether from an online dating site or a random stranger on the street - there are some tactics I'd highly recommend to anyone wanting to avoid these kinds of situations, and they all have to do with timing.
When meeting someone initially from an online dating site, many people wait too long to meet someone they feel a spark with. It's a simple concept really: the longer you wait to meet someone, the less real-world information you have about them. Body language, the tone of their voice and chemistry are all removed from the decision-making process, and in its place an element of fantasy comes into play. Instead, if you meet someone online you feel connected to, try and meet them within the week of first interacting for a quick first date.
The other issue of dating timing stems from getting to know someone too quickly and assuming information not already proven. Fiction writers know the adage, "Show, don't tell," by heart, and you should too when meeting someone from an online dating site. Pay more attention to what your date does than what they say to get a better indication of who they are. Then, allow yourself more than enough time to really get to know a person before sharing any identifying information, such as where you work or your home phone number. Jumping into something can be a heady, exhilarating treat, but what if the consequences far outweigh the short-term fun?
What do you think? What do you do that's out of the ordinary to keep yourself safe when meeting someone new? Or, does staying safe when meeting folks even cross your mind?