| "Vincent, You may have saved my
life. I followed your seven rules. The man I was corrosponding
with backed off when I suggested that we meet in public and that
I would be bringing a friend. A week later, he was apprehended for
raping and killing a woman who did not follow the rules. I know this
because, not too long after that, the police contacted me. It was
then that I found out that I was one of several women whom he was in contact
with at that time. They found this out by going in to his computer.
You can imagine how glad I was that, instead of rushing head long in to
what might have been a tragic situation for me, that I heeded your rules.
I can never thank you enough."
~ Cindy M. - Illinois, USA
From time to time, a newspaper
article or television news report serves to remind us that there are unscrupulous
people who use the Internet for their own immoral purposes.
Such individuals have learned how
to charm unsuspecting people into meeting them offline and then assualting
or even murdering their victims. It doesn't happen often but, nevertheless,
we do hear about such tragic situations. As a result, there is a
certain amount of fear associated with Internet dating.
For the most part, it is unwarented. Aside from the sometimes disappointment
of finding out that what was to be Prince Charming turned out to be more
of a Barney Fife, the chances of actually being criminally victimized is
remote. Still, one should be very careful when first meeting someone
for the first time.
That being the case, I have
come up with seven basic rules for offline meetings. They were first
included in my free online book, Chatville.
They can be found in the chapter entitled "Spiderman."
After posting the rules to
this website, I received an e-mail from a young woman who wrote the e-mail
that is posted at the top of this page.
Please review them carefully and,
whatever you do, follow them when meeting someone for the first time
after connecting on the the Internet.
1. Looks Can
There is no such thing as
a safe looking person. The individual behind the face is the one
you are actually going to meet. How much do you really know about
the person? Are you sure that they have been truthful about themselves?
People who meet on the Internet
present themselves in the best possible manner. Those who are more
honest are willing to make reasonable admissions. On the other hand,
there are those who will tell any lie that it takes to get into an offline
meeting situation. They know how to size up another person, respond
in such a way so as to deceive, and push all of the right buttons.
Be careful. Most of the people
you meet via the net will be fine. However, ignoring the rules because
someone looks to be safe may bring tragic results. It only takes
one bad experience amongst many good ones to realize that following these
rules more than make sense.
However the person you are going
to meet appears, whether your impression is based on a digital photo, a
reassuring voice in a previous phone conversations, or the way they look
those first few moments of the actual meeting, do not judge their character
by their outward appearance. Save that for later after you've gotten
to know him/her better.
|2. Note Any Signs
of an Abusive Nature
Strong language, displaying
an aggressive attitude, or using violent
or excessively foul language should be considered to be serious red
flags. Should any one of these characteristics appear, trust
your better sense to call off the meeting.
Good people are polite, respectful,
and are truly concerned about making a good impression when it comes to
Internet dating. However, anyone who manifests a controlling nature
or comes across as being tough acting should be avoided.
No matter what their inticements
might be, meeting such a person automatically presents you with a very
risky situation-- one that might prove to be a serious mistake.
3. Meet in a
Avoid out of the way places
where there are no other people nearby. It is better to meet in a
place where there are people close by who could help you, should you need
One lady shared an account with
me concerning her first offline meeting. The man she described had
written her one beautiful e-mail note after the other. The two phone
calls they shared could not have been more perfect. In fact, he had
a European accent that she found to be very alluring. Eventually,
she agreed to meet him at his apartment.
She now admits that this was an
stupid thing to do.
When the door opened, a short stalking
man in an old pair of pants and a strap tee-shirt greeted her. Perhaps
this was the man's father.
He invited her into the apartment
and she complied.
This was her second mistake.
As it turned out, this was indeed
her Prince Charming and he couldn't wait to get his hands on her.
After several minutes of trying to figure out how to get out of his grasp,
she bolted out of the door, ran down to her car, and sped off until she
felt that she was at a safe enough distance to pull over and catch her
The point? Always, always,
always, meet first in a public place.
4. Get a Friend
to Accompany You
It is wiser to have
a friend go with you. If not, you should at least advise someone
as to where you are going, who you will be with (supply as much information
as possible), when you are going, and when you expect to be
A sincere Internet date will welcome
your friend and not mind that they have accompanied you. Conversely,
someone whose motivations are all wrong will resent your friend being with
you. This approach has proven time and time again to be a good indicator
as to what kind of person you are actually meeting.
5. Copy a Disk
and Print It Out
When the relationship becomes
such that a meeting is requested, copy the text of your last chat or e-mail
from the person to a disk or print it and leave it in a safe place.
Whatever you do, be sure that you either print or write out a description
of where, when, and with who you will be meeting once the plans have been
finalized. Leave it in a place where it can be eventually found if
you do not return in a reasonable time period.
6. Be Wary of
Offers of Alcohol or Drugs
These things lower inhibitions
and can leave you in a state of mind where you are very weak, vulnerable,
or no longer in control of what happens or to where you are taken. What
may seem like an exciting thing to do at the moment may not be worth the
7. Trust Your
Own Common Sense
If a situation doesn't feel
right, don't be afraid to bail out. Your instincts may save your
Vincent's Short Story about an Internet
and How to Avoid be Victimized by Them
© all rights reserved - 10/22/2001--
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