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Cyberdating and Cyber-Romance - Finding Love in All the Cyberplaces

Meeting in Real Life from Online Personal and Other Ads


"Never meet strangers from the Internet" You hear that everyday. You have probably even lectured your kids about it. Pretty sound advice, isn't it?


But, what about all the great things you'd miss if you followed that rule? You'd never find that vacation rental you have always dreamed about, your soul mate, the plumber who shows up on time or great deals on collectibles. You'd never sell that old clunker, your house or nab that job you wanted. There are many opportunities to connect, buy, sell, search and get help online. And, the truth is, if you are smart, careful and bring some sumo wrestling friends along with you, you can be safe and still meet people in real life that you had first met online.


But the risks are just as real. Murders, rapes, kidnapping and assaults, fraud, larceny, stalking - while they may not happen as often as you think they do, they happen too often. And in most cases are 100% preventable if you take some time to think and do it right.


The volunteers at WiredSafety and cyberlawyer Parry Aftab have been helping everyone stay safer online since 1995. They volunteer from their homes, work and school to help victims of cyberabuse and cybercrime, educate consumers and young people and advise policymakers and the industry on safer surfing and digital use. Here are some quick and easy "safer encounters" tips:




Adults can be college-aged, or grandparents. They can be parents and someone's child. But when they are single (or newly single), they have something important in common - they are looking for love. And in the last two decades, many have been turning to online dating services to look for love in all the cyberplaces.


Many have found love online, or at least some entertaining diversions. But enough have also been hurt, blackmailed, stalked, manipulated and defrauded that we all need to understand how to conduct our online romances in safer ways. So, feel free to look for love. Just be careful and follow our pointers. Look for love, not trouble, online.


Choosing the network or site to join:

Some sites advertise that they are safer because they do criminal background checks on their members. Others do social screening to match you with the right person. Some others authenicate identities of their users. But no site or network can protect you completely. Many creeps don't have a criminal background. Some pretending to be single are really married and looking for some extracurricular fun. And in the most horrible cases, child molesters are romancing moms to get to their kids. 





  • Find a reputable online dating service. "Single and looking" chat rooms can be unpleasant places and risky.

  • Choose an non-identifiable screen name (and keep it clean - otherwise you are asking for the wrong sort of attention).

  • Never give out any personal information at the beginning and when you are ready to tell someone your real name and/or where you live - stick to first names only and be vague about your address (just your state/province is enough - they aren't coming for dinner - just yet - so they don't need to know your how to find your house).

  • Use a toss-away free email account or anonymous remailers offered by online dating services.

  • Block your cell phone number or consider buying a prepaid cell phone that can't lead anyone back to you.

  • When you are ready to chat online, outside of dating site - use seperate e-mail and IM accounts for online dating.

  • You can feel as if you really know your new cyberdate but don't be in a rush to meet them offline and don't let them rush you. Take it very slow!

  • When you decide to take it beyond the intro email, try using a webcam (but keep your clothes on!) They show you what and who you are getting better than a doctored or old image.

  • Everyone lies a little. But if they lie about important things, move on to someone more honest.

  • Keep an open mind, people online can be somewhat selective with the truth about age, weight etc.

  • Do not rely on a photograph. It could be an old picture or a picture of someone else entirely.

  • When you are ready to take things a step further, start with a telephone call and either block your number or use a public phone.

  • When you do meet, do it in daylight, with a friend, in a very public place and tell someone where you are going.

  • Never leave or go home with them. Take it slow. Get to know them offline all over again.

  • Make sure you know how to save copies of your online dating conversations and let someone know where to find them.

  • Pay attention to more than the sweet-talk. If facts don't line up, it's probably not going to change for the better.

  • Remember your Netiquette and be nice! Just because someone is not your ideal match, it doesn't give you the right to be horrible to them.

  • Report any creeps! Report them to the site or network where you met them. Report them to the police!


There are some tips we provide for meeting sellers offline from Craigslist that can be helpful here too. Check them out.

Looking For Love in All the Cyberplaces - Online Romance

The Basic Safety Tips for Cyberdating:

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