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Online Dating Tips for the Digital Age of Romance

We are romantic creatures. We are social creatures. With these two elements sharing our genetic code, we have little choice but to seek out someone with whom we can feel free to share our romantic gestures. In the Stone Age, this was accomplished much the same way as any survival technique (i.e., hunting and gathering). In the Industrial Age, the biggest change was that we looked and smelled better during our pursuits. Now, in the Digital Age, we are more efficient with our techniques, electronically speaking, however we have also proven that the human species has not changed a great deal on this fundamental level.

So, instead of trekking over hill and dale searching for a love connection, we now flip a switch and "google" for one. Less sweat, but other than that, not much else has changed. The same criteria still dictates how humanity looks for love -- attraction, compatibility, willingness to extend a heart and hand to hold.

Online dating has many positive aspects, some great advantages over the "bar scene," and has been proven as an efficient, safe and enjoyable way to make real love connections. Online dating works very well as a pre- screening tool and allows you to relax more when you do decide to take a relationship offline. However, as with all dating rituals throughout history, there are some precautions that should be taken, to protect yourself, body and heart.

Go With Your Gut ...

Always be aware that the person at the other end of an e-mail message may not be who or what he or she represents him or herself to be. Listen to your instincts ... trust your instincts. If anything about the person makes you uncomfortable, even if it is "just a feeling," then for your own safety and protection, "walk" away.

Be Mysterious, a.k.a. Use Your Anonymity ...

Don't be too eager to disclose personal information. Never include your last name, home address, phone number, where you work, who you work for, or any other identifying information. Always discontinue communication with anyone who pushes or pressures you for personal information! Also watch for any attempts to try to trick you into revealing any personal details. Be very sure you are comfortable before revealing any such delicate information.

Build Trust Through Caution & Common Sense ...

In the offline world, trust is earned gradually through consistently honorable, upfront, honest behavior. Take all the time you need to learn if a person is trustworthy. Again, listen to your instincts. Be responsible and don't fall "head over heels" and abandon caution at the click of your mouse.

To Phone Or Not To Phone, That Is The Question ...

Obviously, share your phone number only after you feel completely comfortable and certain the person can be trusted. Common sense tells you not to offer your personal phone number to a stranger. An option could be to use a "disposable" cell phone, or utilize telephone blocking features available in order to prevent your phone number from appearing on a stranger's Caller ID.

Phone Calls Can Tell You A Lot ...

When you do get to the "phone stage" of the relationship, realize that a phone call may often reveal a great deal about someone's communication and social skills, so listen carefully -- to your instincts as well as to the other person's voice and words. And even if you feel comfortable with someone, still, always consider your security first!

Don't Be Pressured To Meet Too Quickly ...

One of the great advantages of meeting and relating online is that you can collect information gradually and on your own terms, allowing you to choose if and/or when to pursue the relationship offline. You are never obligated to meet anyone no matter how far your online relationship has progressed. Even if you decide to meet offline, you have the right to change your mind at any point. If at any moment you feel uncomfortable about meeting someone in person, listen to yourself--that "inner voice" could be based on a hunch that you can't really explain, but trust yourself.

Red Flags, Take Warning ...

Watch for negative attitudes, such as displays of anger, intense frustration or attempts to pressure or control you. Such behavior as these, as well as a passive-aggressive manner, making demeaning or disrespectful comments, or any physically inappropriate behavior should send up "red flags." Be very concerned if your date exhibits any of these behaviors. You are also wise to discontinue any relationship where the person gives you inconsistent information about age, interests, appearance, marital status, profession, employment, or anything else for that matter. If the person fails to provide direct answers to direct questions, appears significantly different in person from their online persona, and never introduces you to friends, associates or family members, don't walk, but run, the other way!

Meet In A Safe Location ...

If you decide to meet offline, always tell a good friend or family member(s) who you are meeting, a telephone number to contact you, where you are going and when you will return. Always provide your own transportation, never arrange for your date to pick you up at home. Meet in a public place at a time with many people around. A familiar, crowded meeting place is a good idea. If you decide to move to another location, take separate cars. When the date is over, leave on your own. Before trust has been built, play it safe.

If you are arriving from another city, arrange for your own car and hotel room--never allow your date to make the arrangements for you. Do not disclose the name of your hotel. Arrange to meet at a public location that the two of you can comfortably agree on. If for any reason, as you are arriving or after you have arrived, the location seems inappropriate or unsafe, return to your hotel. And as stated before, always make sure a friend or family member knows your plans and has your contact information, and for added security, carry a cell phone with you at all times.

Stay Safe ...

Never let yourself be pressured to do anything you feel uncomfortable with or unsure about. If you are in any way intimidated by, or afraid of, your date, use your best judgment, and in the least confrontational manner possible make a hasty retreat. If you are feeling unsure how to end the date early, excuse yourself and go call a friend or family member for advice, ask for help from someone in your immediate location, or slip out the back door and drive away. Don't worry about hurting feelings or being embarrassed. And if you feel you are in any danger, don't mess around--call the police. Your safety is always much more important than one person's opinion of you.

Dishonest and unscrupulous people certainly exist on the Web. We've all heard horror stories. They also exist offline, and not just in bars and at parties. Regardless of where you meet someone new, remember that a little safety-consciousness and common sense can save you from a disastrous encounter. Affairs of the heart are never risk-free, but by being alert and exercising a little caution, you can enjoy the exhilarating experience of meeting someone special, someone new, and maybe even someone you will have in your life for many happy years to come.

This is a free-reprint article written by freelance writer and Website content developer, Cherie' Davidson. Cherie' is also managing content editor for eDipity.com ( http://www.edipity.com ) and welcomes you to submit similar articles for posting on eDipity.com and in the eDipity Article Exchange list ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/edipity/ ). For more information, write her at editor@eDipity.com or at her business address, cherie@SuitableWords.com

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