Oh, the internet. It connects you with people from all over the world, and it allows you to meet men in the comfort of your own home, in your jammies.

Never has it been easier to find a date for this weekend, and it’s also never been easier to research a blind date before you even meet him. Still, there are some spooky people out there, and in the excitement of wanting to meet someone, common sense can go out the door.

This week I want to talk about some practical tips for dating safely online, mostly through my own personal experience. I will frame this by saying probably 97% of guys out there aren’t creepers (depending where you meet them). Unfortunately, a single girl can never be too careful. So take a look at the list below – divided into the different stages of online dating – to see if there is something you have been missing.

Chatting Online

  • There is no reason to divulge your last name, exactly where you work, or any other personal information until you meet this person face-to-face.
  • Only give your phone number (or accept his) if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Resist any pressure to give your number or reveal personal information if you’re not ready.
  • Unless you met on a fetish site, any dick pics or anything yucky like that is more than enough reason to block and report them. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • If your gut is telling you something is wrong, that’s probably for a very good reason. Do not ignore that intuition. The same goes for all the stages of a first date.

Texting/Talking on the Phone

  • This is the stage you can start to snoop. If you know his name or number, it’s not a bad idea to look him up on social media. Does everything he says check out? Or does something feel “off” about the situation? If something is weird, it is completely OK to ghost at this phase.
  • I still think this is not the time to give out personal information if you’re not ready, especially where you work.
  • Only suggest going out/accept his invite if you feel comfortable doing so.

Before the Date

  • First dates are best in public settings with lots of people and lights around. Coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants are all good ideas. Lightly attended movies and evening strolls through the park are not.
  • Give a trusted friend or family member your date’s picture and contact information, as well as when and where you are meeting up. Make this person your “date buddy.”
  • There is no good reason to let him pick you up. That is what your car, public transportation, or Uber is for.

During the Date

  • Make sure you text your buddy (from the restroom, obvi) to tell them you are fine.
  • You can also have your buddy call you during the date at a predetermined time to check on you.
  • First dates are usually best if kept on the shorter side. It’s best to set an end time beforehand with an excuse (early morning, a fictitious meeting, etc.) ready to go. That gives you a graceful exit out if the date is a bomb. Feel free to ignore this if the date is going well.
  • Enjoy yourself, but be aware of your surroundings. Do you know where the exits are? Has you purse been with you the whole time? Is there someone in the bar/restaurant/coffeehouse giving you the heebie-jeebies?

After the Date

  • Unless you are sure you want to end the date in the morning, don’t let him come to your house or vice versa.
  • Text your buddy to let them know you made it home OK.

These are just a few tips to ensure your own safety and give you peace of mind when meeting men online.

Is there anything I left off this list you think should be added? Comment below!