Online dating is becoming more and more mainstream, as people from all walks of life plug in and find their soul mate in kinds of dating sites. Here are six tips to finding that special someone while still maintaining your privacy and safety online.
1. Avoid large, public chat rooms where anything can (and does!) take place. Some people frequent these areas just to see what they can get away with. Instead, focus on smaller, more targeted online dating sites or chat rooms that match your interests or lifestyle. There are many online dating sites that cater to specific hobbies and several offer free trial memberships.
2. When you find a chat room, dating site, or forum that matches your interest, introduce yourself with only as much information as you feel comfortable giving. Don't plaster your phone number, address or any other personal information on the site. Wait until you meet someone with whom you truly "click" and have spoken to them for awhile. Common sense and that "gut feeling" are great indicators for when something just doesn't seem quite right.
3. Participate in the forum or chat room regularly. Keep it "low-key" until you start forming friendships with the regular members there. Be honest, and be yourself - after all, being natural is what will endear you to a particular mate.
4. Keep your correspondence limited to e-mail and chat until you get to know the person well enough to feel comfortable sharing your phone number and talking for the first time. If you need a good ice-breaker, start off the chat by talking about the forum or chat room where you met and any special interests that brought you two together.
5. If you decide to meet each other in person, choose a neutral, public place. You may even choose a town or city that's not the same as the one where you live. Restaurants, parks, theaters and other public places where people gather often are a good place to start. Alternately, you could choose to attend a special event in your area together, perhaps a concert, festival or fair. Either way, let friends or family know where you're going and who you're going with, as well as what time you'll be returning so they'll know how and where to reach you.
6. If you're interested in a few online "matches" that come your way, consider setting up a post office box and a free e-mail account to share information with each other. That way, if you come to find that you really don't "click" with this person, you won't feel as if you've given any personal contact information away.
If you follow these six tips, chances are you'll have a great time with your cyber date and have a successful experience with online dating. Remember to be honest and be yourself! If you do, chances are that you'll find that perfect special someone who enjoys you for who you are!