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Online Dating - 5 Essential Safety Tips

So, you've decided to take the plunge and follow in the footsteps of countless other singles who know that online dating is a successful route to meeting new friends and finding the perfect partner. But, what do you do when you find someone you like?

Initially, you'll want to keep all communication by email and get to know a little more about the other person. Email also gives you time to think about what you want to say whilst allowing you the distance and privacy to keep things from moving too quickly. And just like your daily post, you'll be surprised how much you will look forward to checking your inbox to see if you have new mail!

Once an email friendship has been established you may feel comfortable enough to talk over the telephone. Take your time over giving out your telephone number though, if you decide that you don't want to pursue the friendship you can't take your number back.

Ok. Let's assume that you've emailed and chatted on the telephone. You've decided that you really like this person and would love to meet up. Stop right there! Before you get carried away with the excitement that the prospect of new love brings, read these important safety tips prior to taking the final step of meeting that great new date:

? Always tell a friend where and when you are meeting.

? Don't give out personal information unless you feel confident to do so, especially your home address.

? Never give out personal financial details. Never give or send out money to someone you've just met.

? If travelling to meet, make your own arrangements for overnight accommodation and don't give out the name or address of your hotel.

? Follow your instincts. If you feel unsafe of unsure of your situation, never be embarrassed or afraid to make your excuses and leave.

On the whole, just like in everyday life, most people you meet via the Internet will be genuine but it is important to be aware that some may not. Just following a few basic rules will ensure your safety. You might even want to arrange to 'check in' with a friend to let them know how the date is going ? if your friends are as nosey as mine this will be the first thing they ask you to do!

Finally, relax and enjoy yourself. You never know, it could be the start of something beautiful.

Claire Gaskin is a social researcher and co-founder of two successful online dating sites: http://www.music-mate.com and http://www.fetish-mate.com

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