Safe Dating in the Digital Age (Online Dating)

So, you want to begin the online dating process?

I've always been a big supporter of the Internet in terms of the miraculous opportunities to connect with people all over the world, as well as people close to you that you might not have met otherwise. While I do not condone this choice for every young person, I see no problem with it so long as these individuals remain safe and cautious. It requires a certain level of responsibility. My motto in life has always been: "It's better to be overly cautious than oblivious," and that certainly applies here.

The first thing you gotta decide: which online dating website are you going to trust to find your perfect match? There's the free options of OKCupid, POF (Plenty of Fish), or a variety of other platforms where you must pay to find your soulmate--Match.com, eHarmony. There's also Tinder, a smartphone application. I chose the first two, my favorite being OKCupid. It has the better layout of the two free web options, as well as a more in-depth interests and values analysis.

When you begin your dating profile, it's important to recognize that you will be speaking with those who are genuinely interested in forming a lasting relationship, and because of this, it is necessary that you fill out your profile honestly. OKCupid offers a variety of questions to help you match up with others, as well as plenty of room to talk about your favorite movies and bands in your About Me sections. Answering the hard-hitting questions regarding political and social views, you are able to more accurately match up with the mate that shares your values.

Once you begin chatting with someone, it is important not to discuss information such as where you work (you can explain what you do, but don't give them the address), where exactly you live (street names) or lead them on to believe you are seeking something you're not. Safety is key here, and making sure this individual you are speaking with is legitimate is the vital first step. I preferred to Skype or FaceTime with people before I met them in person, to verify their identity and get to know them on a more personal level.

Be careful about what visual information you put out on the Internet--risqué photos are just asking for trouble. Because you never know where those images might end up, be careful when you consider "sexting." If you feel as though you wish to engage in these acts, be sure your face is never in the photo, just in case the photos trace their way back to your employer or friends and family.

I met my current boyfriend of 2+ years on POF and we've never been happier. Turns out, we worked right around the corner from each other and never met (talk about some You've Got Mail luck)! Online dating can be wonderful when you are safe and cautious along your journey.

Would you online date? Why or why not?