Anyone who's ever tried dating knows that it can be a scary—and at times frustrating—experience. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a place where you could screen dates before ever meeting them, or let someone (or something) else pick potential matches for you? In this guide we'll show you how to use the Internet to do all those things. We'll provide you with dating sites for people with specific interests or lifestyles, as well as sites that evaluate all these online dating services. We'll even show you how to stay safe with online dating.
Most people you'll find in the online dating world have honest intentions; but just as there are dishonest people in the real world, you can encounter dishonest people online. There are relatively harmless lies (using an inaccurate or old photo, fibbing a bit about age, etc.) and there are deceptions of a more malicious nature (married people on singles sites, sexual predators, and so on). Most of the worries that people have about who they'll meet in real-world dating situations are just as viable online; and although there's no need to obsess over horror stories, it is important to use your good judgment—and the advice you'll find at the sites recommended here—to protect yourself.
- As with any situation where you post a profile on a Web site, don't provide too much personal information. All information you put on a dating profile could potentially be viewed by anyone with a subscription to the site (and in some cases anyone at all). Even sites that "screen" users can't guarantee that unsavory types won't slip by.
- Use common sense when meeting someone new (from an online site or from anywhere). Consider meeting in a public place and let someone know where you are going and who you are with.
For general online dating safety information ...
provides tips for every step of the online dating process to protect users. With a list of "Things to look for" on any Internet dating site, this Web page is a great starter point before creating a profile on a site. Take a look at the "Getting started - what's normal?" and "Going face to face" sections for more advice along the way.
Out in America
has a top-10 list of online dating safety tips, each one thorough yet straightforward. While this site's audience is primarily the gay community, the tips are useful and provide general insights for anyone interested in online dating.
gives a simple list of 13 items with basic safety tips and precautions ranging from "Use a reputable cyber-dating site" to "Meet in a public place."
For tips for the actual date ...
Internet Dating Stories
might not give direct advice, but it provides chronicles of other people's online dating experiences. Learn from their mistakes, witness the potential of the online dating world, or just entertain yourself for a few minutes. Choose from stories categorized under headings such as "Bizarre Dates," "Rants & Raves," and "Happily Ever After."
For help if you are in a dangerous situation ...
provides a guide for self-help as a means of damage control if you have already experienced the more dangerous side of Internet dating. Select whether your problem is harassment or stalking and then read the appropriate guides. At the bottom of the pages, decide how dangerous your situation still feels and opt whether to continue to the next step.
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