Things in the world around us have changed over the years and the dating scene is no exception. With the internet, speed dating, etc., dating and finding that right someone have gotten just a little easier, but harder all the same. I promise I get less confusing; bear with me here.

In this day and age, you can go online to many different websites and decide who you want to go on a date with and who you don’t without even meeting the person face to face. Each of you put in a blurb about yourself, what you like and don’t like, and then make a decision based on that small amount of information. That’s the easy part.

The hard part is that all you have to go on about a person is that short blurb. Online people can create any type of personality that they wish others to have about them. The worst part is that it doesn’t have to be true. So really, you don’t exactly know what you are getting into.

Even if you begin regularly emailing someone trying to get to know them, you aren’t really going to know who you are meeting up with when you do finally decide to meet. However, even if you meet someone face to face, do you ever really know that person?

The best thing to do if you choose the online dating route is be very careful of who you strike up a conversation with to begin with. Some people there are not really there to get a date. Below are a few things you can do to help protect yourself:

• Never give out your address or personal information

• If/when you do decide to hook up with them, meet them in a central location. Never invite them to your home until you feel comfortable – in person – with that individual.

• Let someone know where you are going and who you are going with. If, for some reason, that deviates throughout the date, make the call or text to your friend and let them know of the change of plan.

• Use your phone to take a selfie with your date and then text it to your friend. Not only do they need to know where you are, having a photo of the person could come in handy down the road.

• When you end the date and drive away, make sure you aren’t being followed. Take a few different turns here and there and don’t drive directly home. Make it hard or at least inconvenient for them to follow you.

Those are just a few things to help you feel and stay safe on those first few meetings until you are more comfortable with the person you have chosen.

The dating world has progressed at record speed and while there are many great stories that come out of online dating, there are just as many that aren’t so great. Don’t be one of the terrible stories. Keep dating, but also stay safe while you are doing it. Because dating ain’t what it used to be!