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Meeting singles online can be daunting. After all, with the anonymity of the Internet, anyone can profess to be someone they're really not. This could be a big detractor to meeting someone new. You may think you know a person after spending countless hours sending instant messages and email letters, but do you really know them as well as you think you do? Personal safety should be foremost in your mind when considering online dating.

All issues considered, don't miss out on meeting new and interesting people solely because of safety concerns. Keep in mind that most singles simply have the same goals in mind as you. They want to meet someone special they're attracted to who happens to possess many of the same qualities. There are ways to increase your level of safety when meeting someone new, and the new friend or date you meet could turn out to be your true soul mate.

Take Your Time

One of the biggest mistakes people make when searching personal ad profiles is getting in too big of a hurry. They see an attractive face and mindlessly begin a correspondence before considering the rest of the profile. When browsing through personals take your time and carefully scrutinize the information provided before replying to or initiating correspondence.

After beginning a correspondence with a dating site friend, keep the lines of communication open and don't be too quick to meet. Get to know the individual through email, instant messaging and talk on the phone (preferably through an anonymous phone service). Develop somewhat of a relationship before choosing to meet. You may decide to take the next step, or for whatever reason, you may decide that meeting isn't such a good idea and you'll be glad you took your time.

Before meeting in person, ask lots of questions and look for inconsistencies. When corresponding through email, instant messaging, or by phone, compare answers to similar questions in an effort to determine whether or not the person is being truthful. If the information doesn't add up, ask more questions. When carefully questioned, someone who isn't being totally honest will finally end up backed into a corner, and they won't be able to talk their way out of it.

Protect Your Privacy

Don't make the mistake of being too trusting. Although the majority of singles are kind and honest individuals simply looking to meet new people, not everyone has your best interest in mind. Don't give out your regular email address right off the bat, and don't provide your home address, phone number, place of employment, or any other personal information until you are completely comfortable with the new person in your life. Where safety is concerned, you can never be too careful!

Sign up for a free web-based email address and an anonymous phone service; use it primarily for correspondence with your new potential dates. If at any time you don't feel safe, or if someone refuses to take no for an answer, you can easily dump the contact info and sign up for a new one. When combined with the built-in privacy and security features of the online dating website, your identity will be safe and will remain completely secure.

Meeting Locations

Never plan to meet someone at his or her home, in a parking lot, or anywhere else that isn't a busy public location. Consider meeting inside a restaurant, a shopping mall or a coffee shop. Continue to meet in public places until you feel completely comfortable and until you feel you know the person inside and out.

Always make a friend or loved one aware of exactly where you plan on meeting someone for the very first time and subsequent dates thereafter. Carry your cell phone, and don't alter you plans without notifying someone who can check on you if need be. Your cell phone is your line of communication and your lifeline of safety when dating someone new.

Trust Your Instincts

Use your instincts to guide you through the exciting and often confusing world of online dating. If at any time something doesn't feel quite right, don't proceed. Your inner voice will tell you when something is wrong, but you must keep an open mind in order to perceive it. Take your time; protect your privacy, meet in public places, and most of all, trust your instincts. Your built-in instincts are the most effective tools of protection, no matter where you are or who you meet.

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