As you meet people online whether you’re interested in meeting them to go on a date or to make a new friend, you may want to move your online friendships offline. Remember that people can easily lie about who they are online.
They can pretend to be taller, more attractive, significantly younger, another gender – anything. Even if you know someone online, you don’t really know him or her; you know what they wanted you to know. As a result you need to take extreme safety precautions if you decide you want to move your online friendship offline. If at any point you have reservations about meeting them, don’t meet them. Trust your instincts.
Remember, there is no 100% safe way to meet up with someone in real life that you originally met online, but if you are sure you want to go ahead with it, follow these tips to stay as safe as possible:
- Get to know them first: Talk with them for a while online before even considering taking things offline. Google them, and ask other people if they know them. You can never be too cautious.
- Call and video call them: Make sure they are who they say they are, see what they look like, and hear their voice. If they don’t want to talk on the phone or video chat before meeting you, don’t meet up with them. There is no reason why they would not be able to call you, and if you make it a prerequisite for meeting you, they will work out a way to get access to a webcam to video call.
- Tell a close friend or family member: Before meeting someone in person, tell someone you trust where you are, whom you are with, how to contact you, and when you should be back.
- Bring a friend: Bring another person you trust with you to the meeting.
- Meet in a public place: Never, under any circumstances, meet in a private location. Meet at a mall or a coffeehouse, and don’t accept a ride to be picked up and driven to the location. Only meet them in the public place, and don’t let them take you back home. Take two cars, and keep where you live unknown.