Online dating is a relatively new concept and is still taboo to some. Some people prefer meeting face to face, while others like to get a feel of whats out there without diving into the shark tank. But there are dangers associated with meeting people online just as there are with meeting people in person.
Firstly, pick a reputable site. There are a lot of trashy sites on the net for people who just want one night stands, for people who cheat on their spouses, for kinky people. Choose a site thats right for your needs. If you are looking for a long term relationship, choose a relationship site that caters to that.
Secondly, find out as much about the person you can who you are talking to. Then try to establish if they are actually the person you are talking to. Some sites offer member verification, in which the member writes their screen name on their body and takes a picture and posts it. This verifies that the person with that screen name is who you are speaking to.
Beware of scams. Scammers will try to woo you fast and then they will begin to ask for money. This is a major red flag and dont be the fool and fall for it. Anyone on a site trying to look for money is bad news. They should be reported promptly as well.
Also, when you finally choose a mate to meet, be sure that you meet in a well-lighted public place with plenty of people. You dont want to go off with them somewhere by yourself. Date in groups if you can. Double date. These are ways to protect yourself from harm.
Tell someone where you are going and who you are going with. Leave a number and an address with a person you know. This way, someone will know where you are at all times and your location will be protected.
Dont go home or drive in the same car as a person you just met. If the person is a good person, they will understand your need for this. Driving off with a stranger could be the last drive you take, and going to their house is a big mistake and very unsafe. Protect yourself and use common sense at all times.
Online dating can be fun and easy and safe, but you have to be the one to ensure your safety. No one can do that for you. Make wise decisions and be around people at all times when you are on a first date. Let the person you are with know that someone knows where you are. This will deter them from harming you if that is their intention. Above all, follow your gut.