Don't post personal details in an open forum; don't assume that a private, religious or parenting, etc. forum is any safer. On the Internet, there is no 100% safe place.
Don't email personal details to strangers no matter how understanding and solicitous they may appear.
Don't give out personal details when you're using chat or Instant Message programs even if the other person seems to give these details to you. They may have given you false information in an attempt to build up your trust.
Even if you feel you can trust the person you've been chatting or emailing, don't give out your address, phone number, or last name. With internet searches, someone with even one personal detail can probably find out where you live and more.
If you're planning to meet someone you've met online, make your first meeting in a fairly busy public place and take a friend along.
If you don't want to take someone with you, at least give them details of who you're meeting, where you're meeting, and when you'll be back to work or home.
No matter how the sparks fly at that first meeting, don't invite him or her back to your place.
No matter how comfortable you feel at that first meeting, don't take a drive with them or let them drop you off at your home.
Trust your "gut." There is no need to force yourself to like someone. That's exactly the point of meeting face-to-face: to see if the "bond" you feel for this person is real or illusion.
Have you been betrayed by your spouse? Have you come to the Web for comfort and support? Have you trusted in virtual friends and been hurt when they've betrayed you? After being betrayed in real life, why would you think a virtual relationship would be any safer from betrayal? Behind that keyboard, all those many miles away, is a real person, not a perfect person.
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