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Taking Online to the Phone

So, with all of these necessary safety precautions, how do you ever advance to taking it offline with online dating? If everyone online is by definition a stranger, how do you actually get to know someone you met on the internet?

Gradually and with due consideration to your safety every step of the way.

Phone dating
Hopefully, after posting your personal online dating profile, soon enough you are knocked out by a charming response complete with a great photo, profile and witty repartee via email. Now the emails are flying back and forth and you're thinking that you would like to consider a first date. How do you meet safely? Ask for a telephone conversation first. Phone dating gives you another opportunity to size up your potential date before deciding whether it would be safe to meet in person.

Remember, until you've actually meet in person and have spent some time together, you are dealing with a complete stranger. It is very important to keep this in perspective and not allow yourself to develop inflated expectations. You don't know who you are dealing with yet or whether they are actually sincere. Do not under any circumstances allow yourself to divulge any personal information until you are at least safely past the first or second meeting. Take it slow and be cautious.

First, protect your identity
Online, you only reveal your anonymous email address, your handle, and perhaps an image of yourself. You diligently protect all other identifying information, including the city where you live or the college you attend.

In your email exchanges, ask many questions and read carefully the answers. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for inconsistencies in the answers you are provided. Trust your instincts and severe all contact with anyone who is evasive or makes you feel uncomfortable. Eventually, after a few promising exchanges with someone, you may choose to divulge your first name but under no circumstances do you provide your full name, address or place of employment. In fact, diligently protect all your personal and unique information at all times.

Ask for their telephone number and do not give out your own
Ask for his telephone number and expect her not to provide her own. Sure, it is a double standard but it is also common sense. It is relatively easy these days to acquire a name and address from a telephone number. It simply isn't advisable for women to give their telephone number to strangers, and no matter how long you've been exchanging messages online, you are indeed strangers. If he has nothing to hide or fear, then he will respect your commitment to safety. Otherwise, severe contact immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.

It's important to be very careful with your home telephone number until you are confidant that you are dealing with a trustworthy person. By the way, giving out your work number is not a viable option either. In fact, you should never supply your work number to anyone you are dating unless you are in an established relationship.

Be suspicious
If you can't reach your potential date on the telephone at home in the evening or if you only ever get an answering machine and then a return phone call, you ought to at least be suspicious. For instance, you may be dealing with a married person or someone who is otherwise not being honest about their lifestyle. Be sure to inquire if they live alone or not, and when their last relationship ended.

You are dealing with a complete stranger
Never forget you are still dealing with a stranger even after a phone date. Be on guard. If something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't right. Evasiveness should be an early warning sign for danger and / or trouble ahead. Ask yourself what are they hiding exactly?

Don't allow your telephone number to be revealed on his caller ID. Use a pay phone instead.

When you dial his number, be sure and activate the Caller ID blocking feature first. You want to avoid having your name and telephone number revealed on his caller id. Better still, call him from a pay phone initially. Beware if your online companion suggests that you call collect or has provided you with a toll free number to dial. What seems considerate may actually be a suspicious attempt to acquire your telephone number as it will appear on the next phone bill. Use that pay phone or consider foregoing the call altogether! You don't want to spend months screening phone calls or dealing with unwanted messages. Protect your privacy carefully until you are certain.

Meeting safely for the first time
Plan on supplying your own transportation, to and from the first date with an online acquaintance.

Always arrange a first date away from home, in a public place where there are many other people. Never provide anyone with your home address until you are completely confident. Provide your own transportation to and from the date. If your date offers to pick you up, thank them but politely decline. If they persist, stop talking to them altogether. Trust your instincts! Trustworthy people will have no problem with your efforts to protect yourself.

Tell a trusted friend where you are and who you are with
Always tell your friends and family where you are going and be sure to supply them with the profile and photograph of your date. Seriously. If you are meeting an online acquaintance for the first time you can't be too careful. While much of this advice is very specifically directed towards woman in particular, it pays to be cautious if you are a man as well. You don't want to deal with any sort of unwanted attention in your home or place of business.

Meet in public and know where the exits are and when to use them
If you show up for the first meeting and discover that your date supplied a bogus photo, I suggest you find the nearest exit as fast as possible and severe all contact. It is rarely innocent to deliberately misrepresent your appearance online. Perhaps the first cardinal rule of internet dating is, make sure your companion is actually who they say they are, otherwise, who are you having dinner with exactly? Whatever their motivations, misrepresentation is a good indication that the person is not trustworthy, and may even be dangerous. Leave and make sure you are not followed.

If the photo turns out to be merely dated, hopelessly hopelessly dated, you should still be wary. At a minimum it begs the question, what else has this person misrepresented?

When the second date should be a no go
Personal preferences aside, there are some things that should automatically be a deal breaker, assuming your objective is a well-adjusted and happy dating experience. While we all have our own particular set of standards, here are a few basic guidelines based on common sense, which can be exceedingly uncommon.

Do not pass go, do not let them collect $200, or any other amount for that matter.

Requests for financial assistance should always raise alarm bells with respect to dating. It is just not appropriate to attempt to borrow money on a first date. Virtual strangers who make requests for money are usually scam artists and it should send you running in the opposite direction immediately.

If they ask you to borrow money, direct them to the nearest bank and find the nearest exit.

Don't be fooled on the second or third date either. Why exactly would your date need to borrow money from you? Don't they have friends or family that care about them? No? Well, beware because that already seems odd. There is an implication of desperation that is more than merely financial. Sure, maybe there is a plausible explanation - in an alternate universe!

Responsible adults solve their own problems
If you are a responsible adult, then you simply would not ask or even need to ask to borrow money from your date. A responsible person will find a more appropriate means to solve a little financial crisis. Feel free to direct them to the nearest bank for instance but keep your own wallet in your pocket. It isn't even polite to discuss money on a date in the first place. The issue of the tab or cheque for dinner ought to have been settled when the date arrangements were made. Ask yourself why on earth your date, who hopefully is trying to impress you, would be willing to do something so unflattering?

Inappropriate requests are never appropriate
Additionally, beware of people who ask for suggestive photographs or who, after you have physically met, want to take videotape or photographs of more intimate moments. In general, beware of anyone who makes any type of request, sexual or otherwise, that causes you to feel uncomfortable. It is very important to trust your instincts at this stage and immediately severe contact with anyone who makes inappropriate requests.

Need more information about safety issues and dating? Please refer to the following resource:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/cmprfact.htm