Cupid Goes Viral


With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, online dating sites are offering promotions or even free weekends. If February 14th in your planner isn’t currently decorated with hearts scribbled in jelly pen, here are some tips to ensure your online dating adventure is fun and safe!

Online

Shop Around

  • A safe online dating service is one that gives you the option to remain anonymous until you choose to reveal personal information. Some sites help protect your privacy by allowing you to email prospective dates while concealing both parties’ true email addresses.

Fraud

  • Beware of a prospective date who asks you to send them money, share your credit card or bank account information, or pressures you to speak with them using an outside service like your personal email.

Abusive Communication

  • Use the service’s block feature to block anyone who treats you in an abusive way and report the behavior to the service provider.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Only use internet with a secure connection, so others can’t hack into your account. Do some investigating into your favorite Wi-Fi hot spot to make sure your connection is safe.
  • Pick a username that doesn’t include any identifiable information. For example, something like “first name_tar heel” or “first name_hometown” may not be safe choices.
  • Consider using Skype to make a phone call with your prospective date instead of using the phone, which would mean giving out your personal number. (Username tips above still apply.)
  • Although it can be difficult to decline a gift or flowers, providing your home address so someone can snail mail you something may put you at risk.

In the Flesh

Don’t Keep it on the DL

  • Tell someone trusted when and where you’re going on a date and when you expect to be home. Have a friend call you halfway through the date to check in and see if you need an out. Feel free to tell your date a friend will be calling.

What’s Yours is Yours

  • If you’re going to the washroom, don’t leave your personal belongings unattended or with your date. If a date is getting too touchy or not respecting your boundaries, you have the right to end the date.

Use Your License

  • Getting picked up by a date may sound romantic, but having your own transportation ensures you will be able to decide when the date will end and keeps your residence private. Don’t have your own wheels? Ask a friend or have a taxi’s number saved in your cell phone and cash on hand.

Learn to Love Brunch

  • First dates are best in the daytime! Meet for the first time in a public and populated place. If someone tries to pressure you into moving your plans to somewhere remote or more “private”, it may be time to roll out.

For more awesome tips on being a smart fish in the sea of online dating, check out:

http://safe.unc.edu/get-info/online-dating/

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