Be careful about the information you give out. Never supply your last name, outside email address, personal website address, home address, phone number, place of work, or other identifying information in your profile or in your initial emails. If anyone tries to pressure or deceive you into revealing personal information, stop corresponding with them.

Trust your feelings, move cautiously, and choose carefully. As you correspond, be on the lookout for strange behavior or inconsistencies. Ask questions and be sure you are satisfied with the answers. If you think someone is lying, they probably are. Take note of conversation topics. If a person tends to steer the conversation towards unwelcome themes, walk away. Take all the time you need before moving to a more personal relationship.

Photos can help you get a more accurate idea of who someone is. Get pictures of your new friend in different settings at work, at play, etc. Let the other person win your trust gradually. Don’t confuse interest with trust. Your new friend should gain your confidence through consistently honorable, forthright behavior. Don’t become prematurely personal or intimate with someone. In the desire to find companionship, it is very easy to lead yourself to believe know someone better than you really do, so take your time.

Talking by telephone can give you a better view of your friend’s personality, social skills, and character. Call from a pay phone or a phone with Caller ID blocking until there is absolute trust. Listen to the person you are getting to know, and pay close attention to both what they say and what they do. Ask questions and be sure that you are satisfied with the answers.

Meet when YOU are ready – do not be pressured into it! Any kind of pressure to meet should be a big red flag to you – do not tolerate it, and don’t be afraid to change your mind about meeting. If someone argues about meeting, finds flaws in your thinking, or pressures you, DON’T meet with them. A sensitive person will always understand the risk involved with online dating, and will respect your caution.

Double or group date for your first meeting. Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return, and leave your date’s name and phone number with that person. Never have your date pick you up. If you decide mid-date to go somewhere else, drive yourself. Meet in a safe, public place. DO NOT meet in your residence or theirs. Be safe now. There will be time for solitude later.

When meeting outside your area: If you’re flying in, make your own transportation and lodging reservations, and keep them to yourself. Don’t meet your date at your hotel. If the meeting location chosen seems unsafe or inappropriate to you, go back to your hotel. Always make sure someone knows your plans and has your contact information. If possible, carry a cell phone at all times.

Be concerned if your date never introduces you to colleagues, friends, or family, or if they look very different from photos posted online.