I’ve read enough crime dramas to know that meeting someone you’ve been talking to online isn’t always the best idea. I’m not saying that online dating is all bad or that you can’t meet your soulmate there, but anytime you head out on a date with someone new, it pays to take precautions so you stay safe and have a really fun time. Here’s why it’s dangerous to date a stranger. By that I mean, someone you know nothing about or that hasn’t been introduced to you by a friend or family member. Read: the guy at the club that wants you to go for a midnight drive with him.
1. A Violent Physical Attack
Let’s just get this one out of the way first. While it doesn’t happen with every couple that meets online, there are enough cases of victimization to warn you to be very careful. Sometimes a predator will pose as a nice guy online, but when you meet up with him, he may turn into a monster who will violate you or even worse. If you are planning to meet someone, make very sure it’s in a public place until you get to know him better.
2. Losing Your Valuables
I recently read a story about a woman who was robbed blind by a man she met online. He gained her trust, then came to her home and stole a bunch of her valuable belongings. You can never be sure, but it might be a good idea to introduce this guy to friends before allowing him in your home. Often others can see what you can’t.
3. Stolen Identity
Identity theft is a very real danger and one that online dating can open you up to. If you are contacted by a hacker (without knowing), your personal online data may be at risk. Additionally, when you meet up with someone you don’t know well, you may wind up with a stolen credit card number or cell phone without suspecting your date. Use caution and take measures to protect your personal data.
4. How about Hurt Feelings?
At the very least you might wind up on a date with a man who criticizes you or makes fun of you throughout the date. Early dating definitely involves getting to know one another better, but your date should never hurt your feelings. I know this isn’t a life or death danger, but it could happen and that can make dating even more difficult for you. Bottom line – don’t accept date requests from men who don’t seem thoughtful and kind.
5. Mental Health Status
Many men can make themselves out to be proper gentleman online, but harbor mental health issues that are potentially dangerous. Maybe you meet someone who is kind and funny, but has OCD and will make your life miserable when you spend time together. Or, you are making friends with a schizophrenic who hears voices and can be unpredictable and maybe even dangerous.
This is a common problem among teens, but it can also happen to young women online. Cyberbullying is when people harass or stalk you on the Internet. It can be minor like being called names or it can progress until it takes over your entire life. Be very careful what information and which photos you share online because those things can be used to stalk you. People have committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying so use extreme caution.
7. Future Abusive Relationship
Surely you’ve watched a Lifetime original movie in which the woman meets the man of her dreams, they get married and then he begins to abuse her, either emotionally, physically, or both. Men who are abusers are very tricky and will suck you in and then you’ll have a hard time getting away.
Experts suggest screening potential dates before meeting them and staying in public for the first few dates, just in case. What other precautions would you take when meeting a stranger for the first time?