3) Talk to a potential romantic interest before you decide that you’d like to meet this person. Adopt the practice of really taking your time to get to know someone and build trust. Trust your intuition when something doesn’t seem right.
4) Don’t spend too much energy with digital communications before you speak on the phone. Just texting or messaging through other digital means can give a false sense of intimacy when you actually don’t know the person whatsoever. Speaking on the phone can at least begin to give you a sense if the person is real.
5) When you do finally decide to meet this person, be sure to meet in a public place – and let a family member or friend know when & where you will be meeting. Do not let this person know where you live or work until you know him/her better. Definitely, don’t give your last name right away either, since it is often possible to get your address with your full name.
6) Stay away from alcohol or drugs on your first several dates to keep your capacity for critical thinking and assessment sharp.
7) Don’t give him/her your cell number right away. It is best to set up a free Google Voice account to get a phone number. (This service includes phone, texting and voice messages.) When you give your cell number, the person can use an app to locate where you are.
8) For your online dating profile, avoid linking any of your social media accounts to the dating platform. Also, don’t use any photos that you have used on your social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn as it is possible to put any photos you shared into Google Image Search to locate anywhere on the internet that you have used these photos – and thus, be able to find out a lot about you.
9) For women, it is wise to bring some kind of protection to the date such as a safety alarm, pepper spray or a taser.
10) If someone provides YOU with their full name, research that person online. Make sure what you find out matches what they say on their profile or have shared with you. Check out their history and if they are a reputable person.
11) If you decide someone seems trustworthy & you begin to date this person more, practice discernment about this person’s character. Communicate your parameters around what you are comfortable with & what you are not with dating this person. (And, of course, don’t forget your deal breakers!)
12) Build trust gradually with a wide variety of activities & experiences. Do their words match their behavior?
13) Although there is room for variation on this, I tend to advise my clients to not get sexual right away. There’s an actual chemical change that occurs when we’ve been sexual with someone – and this will impair our capacity to fully see someone for who he/she really is. Remember, biology wants us to bond and is blind to what makes someone suitable or unfit to be able to build a healthy relationship.
14) Know your attachment style – and the signs of what someone else’s attachment style is. If you or a love interest has an insecure attachment style, you or this person is prone to bond way too soon.