Online dating has become an acceptable way to meet someone new, but is it safe and does it work? The answer: it depends. The key things to understand about internet dating are what the online dating companies WON'T tell you. Here's the list:
  • No screening:  in spite of what their ads may say, online dating companies don't screen your matches.
    • What this means for you:  as you'll be screening your matches yourself, set up your initial meeting in a public place during 'normal' hours. Avoid meeting late at night or in an area you're not familiar with.
  • Not all profiles are active:  once your profile is online, it'll likely be sent to other users whether you're actively dating or not, even if you're no longer with that online dating service.
    • What this means for you:  if you've decided to take a break from online dating, or quit the service entirely, be sure to delete your profile. As online dating companies make this hard to do, you'll likely have to read the fine print to figure out how to do this. In the mean time, delete all your photos from your online profile as a first step.
  • Not all profiles are accurate:  online dating companies do not review profiles to ensure accuracy. All the information provided is from the user themselves, including age, height, photos, etc.
    • What this means for you:  be aware that not all people you meet will look like their photos. Avoid long email exchanges and arrange to meet someone at some point (or speak to them on the phone).
  • You can't tell if you have 'chemistry' with someone based only on their online profile:  as photos and profiles don't always do someone justice (and may not be entirely accurate), you need to meet someone in person to know if you have chemistry.
    • What this means for you:  Avoid long email exchanges and arrange to meet someone in person, using suitable safety precautions (see point #1 above).