by: Aly Walansky
When entering the world of online dating, it’s sad but true: A little paranoia goes a long way!
Rule #1: Don’t give out your address “My number-one rule is: Do NOT let someone you just met – online or otherwise – pick you up at your home. You do not want a stranger – and yes, no matter how many times you’ve emailed, talked on the phone and viewed his profile, he’s still a stranger – to know where you live!” says Ginger Ema, author of Back on Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce (Globe Pequot Press, May 2009).
Rule #2: Meet on your turf
So, where should this first date take place? Meet somewhere convenient for you, in a public place, hopefully where you know some of the wait staff or bartenders. “I probably took forty-five first dates to the same little café a few miles from my home, in a busy retail area. They knew me there – heck, I think they had a betting pool in the back about which guy I would end up with. But I felt safe!” Ginger says.
Rule #3: Drive yourself
The safety doesn’t end there. When going on this first date, be sure that you take your own car and you tell a friend where you are going and the name of the person you are meeting (hopefully it is his actual name), and you have an exit strategy. This can be something like telling your date ahead of time that you’ve got a meeting or have to pick up the kids. “When you meet a guy out, you can leave at any time. This is incredibly important when there are 20 million guys online, and you’re not doing an Intelius.com report on each one. If something feels awkward, off, or it’s simply not a match, you say thank you and get in your car and go home,” Ginger says.
Rule #4: Keep personal info personal
Another important safety tip before even getting to that first date is to create an anonymous email account for one that does not include your first name or last name and that doesn’t have your birth date as part of the username. You don’t want to give out all that information to people you are just meeting, it’s how they can stalk you!
Rule #5: Block your number
It’s also a good idea to learn to block your number when you are calling someone from your cell phone. You may not want a new guy to have your cell phone number yet – maybe never!
Rule #6: Don’t bring a new date home
Ginger also suggests never bring a new date to your home to meet your children. In fact, experts recommend that your kids not meet anyone you are dating until it is a serious, exclusive relationship – long enough for you to feel very comfortable about who this man is, and to know that this is something long-term.
Your kids have already had disruption to their lives, no matter how amicable a divorce is. And children can be funny – they may tell us they want us to date; they may tell us they want us to go out, but they are affected by anything that rocks their world. Your kids just don’t need to be in on your dating stories, or who your ex is dating, either. On the other hand, once you are serious with someone, slowly introduce him to your child(ren). “Nothing surprised me more than having a relationship that integrated with the rest of my life. I seriously thought I would only date every Wednesday and every other weekend – when my son was with his dad. And that’s how it went for years – I didn’t date on ‘my son’s time,’” Ginger says. “But once I was in a long-term relationship that I knew was going to last, I introduced him to my son. I never imagined a holistic post-divorce relationship where my son likes my boyfriend, my boyfriend likes my son (this is saying a lot – he is, after all, a teenager). My ex likes my boyfriend and vice versa – I am the Demi Moore of my neighborhood!”
“While not everyone who dates online loves it, it is still the best place to meet more men per minute. I mean, I’ve been viewed 48,000 times on one site! Where else would I have a pool of 48,000 interested men? “