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How To Be Safe Dating Online

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African American man typing on laptop
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Single and looking to date online? There are many options out there and potentially complications if you don't think about safety before meeting someone in person for the first time.

Get To Know Him First
Ask as many detailed questions as possible before committing to meet. Sometimes the person on the other end of the computer may not be who they say they are. Watch for inconsistencies or strange behaviors. If you see any warning signs or just have a bad feeling about the situation, trust your instincts and stop chatting.

Protect Your Identity and Personal Information
Never disclose personal information with a stranger online. It's not necessary to use a fake name, but be weary of giving out your address, place of work, or any other sensitive information.

Leave a Trail
Stay on the side of caution by leaving a note at home detailing where you're traveling or text a good friend and let them know your exact location and how the date is going. This may seem like overkill, but your safety is well worth a few seconds of time and effort.

Get A Photo
No photo, no date. That's a good rule to live by in online dating. Ask him to email pictures other than the ones in his profile. Get as many details about the picture as possible, including the dates they was taken. Save the picture in an accessible folder on your computer.

Listen For Details
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they communicate. Does something about the conversation make you uncomfortable? Do you have a bad feeling? Before meeting in person, listen carefully during video chat sessions and phone conversation.

Meet In A Public Place
Meet in a relaxed, but public place with as many people around as possible. Try a busy restaurant or cafe. Avoid meeting at his home or in dark, hidden places.

Map An Exit
Know where your exits are and the most effective way to use them should you feel uncomfortable. As an extra precaution, visit the place you're supposed to meet before the date. After the date, take a route other than your normal path home just in case he follows you without your consent.

Know His Sexual History
The best way to protect your body (remember HIV and Syphilis are still alive and well) is to know the status of your sexual partner. Not everyone tells the truth about their HIV status. Warning signs are refusal to answer questions about their status, ambiguity about the date of their last STD tests, ambiguity about the number of partners they've been with, and willingness to have sex without a condom among others. Asking if he's "clean" is not enough. Protect yourself by assuming your partner is positive until proven otherwise.
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