In my last post I talked about how to successfully flirt online. The focus was on keeping it light, funny and to test the waters to see if the two of you should actually go on a real live date. While flirting is fun, it can leave you vulnerable to some online dangers.
Just because they may be far away on the other end of a computer, cell phone or video camera, it’s still important that you keep your safety in mind when flirting virtually. I’ve included some of my best tips for staying safe while dipping your toe into the dating pool to flirt online.
Online tools are your first line of defence
Before you do anything, prepare new online accounts
The very first thing you should do before you flirt online (or set up an online dating profile) is to set up an email and online chat account (Skype, Yahoo, Google) that does not include: your real name, picture, phone number, address, home location or connection to your work. It’s best to keep your dating email and exchanges on a separate email account so you can keep them safely quarantined from the rest of your life.
I am not suggesting that you lie or put up a fake catfish style profile. But, it is important to keep that information under wraps until you get to know someone better and feel confident you can trust them. Once you let that wall of protection down and information out you can’t take it back.
Keep communicating though the dating site as long as possible
While it may be tempting to give them your personal email address or other access to you outside of the dating program, it’s best to go through those structured sites until you really get to know someone better. Those sites are your first line of defense in staying safe online. Once you give out your direct email, video/ chat account or cell phone number it becomes that much harder for you to keep a safe distance.
Don’t give away your coordinates
When you’re flirting and chatting don’t give out personal details that will make it easy for them to locate you. Don’t disclose where you live or work, keep that information general. Also, you don’t want them showing up at your home or work unexpectedly (which by the way is very high on the creepy scale). Remember right now it’s just about getting to know the person in a broad sense. Flirting is meant to help you determine if there is enough spark to warrant a real date.
Don’t broadcast your social media
Don’t share your social media accounts if you can help it. I know this becomes harder if you meet through something like Facebook or Twitter. At least don’t make it too easy and remember that you do have the choice to connect with them or not if they make the request. Check out my previous article on keeping your social media private for tips on how to do that and why it’s important.
Trust Your Gut
- Don’t feel pressured to over share
As you’re flirting and getting to know someone online don’t let them pressure you. If they push you for identifying details, want more direct access to your online life or keep asking you to take the conversation off the dating site or offline, take the opportunity to set some boundaries.I recommend that you tell them directly that you prefer to keep that information protected while you’re getting to know anyone new online. Someone worth getting to know will understand the logic of that and won’t push the issue. It’s actually a helpful litmus test to see if the person you’re talking to is respectful of boundaries and is truly interested in getting to know you for the right reasons. If they do push for more information then you want to share, take as a sign that it’s probably time to move on.
- Love at first click
If you flirt with someone online and they start to tell you how beautiful/handsome you are, how much they love you and maybe even that they’re ready for some deeper commitment like marriage, beware! Actually don’t just beware, run! They are one of two things: (1) Unstable and needy or (2) They are trying to scam you one way or another. While attraction can happen quickly and the attention certainly feels good, it’s important to keep your head about you while you flirt. Don’t get taken in by an emotional or financial vampire. Love takes time and flirting should be taken slowly. Anyone approaching it at lightning speed has another agenda going on and one you want to stay away from.
- No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable
If someone you’re flirting with online makes you feel uncomfortable, you have every right to stop communication with them. No one has the right to creep you out and you certainly don’t have to keep taking it. If they say inappropriate things, push you for intimate information or make off color remarks, you can and should end communication. You can either tell them why you’re ending it or just end it. The more disrespectful and creepy they are the less necessary it is that you provide a reason why you’re done talking to them.
- It’s just doesn’t feel right
Trust your gut and if after flirting with someone for a while it’s just not feeling right, you’re not obligated to keep doing it. If it’s just a matter of no sparks, just let them know it was nice chatting but you’re just not feeling a romantic connection. If they are being creepy see the paragraph above.
I know that much of this seems repetitious. But when we live so much of lives online it becomes harder to know how to be safe about the information we share. Often we take online communication for granted, have a false sense of security and never realize we’re potentially putting ourselves in danger. The bottom line is that we do have a choice about what information we share and how we share it.
Hopefully this didn’t suck the fun out of online flirting for you. With just a few precautions online flirting can be a great tool to help you weed out the good prospects from the bad and get you that much closer to successful dates and lasting relationships. Flirting can make or break a blossoming relationship so make sure you know how to do it safely.
Cija Black is a love expert, author, blogger, online educator and host of the “Love Bombs” podcast. For more information about Cija, the books, class or podcast, visit modernloveguide.com.