Dating is a fun activity, the purpose of which is to bring more love and happiness into our lives. For the majority of people, it does just that and they thoroughly enjoy the whole experience. Fortunately, the incidence of serious problems is quite rare. But when people do get their fingers burned – and it can happen – the consequences aren’t pretty.

Although most of the individuals we’re likely to meet when we’re dating will be decent and honest human beings just like us with nothing sinister to conceal, there are also a few con artists out there. While it’s foolish to be paranoid, it’s equally dumb not to take a few precautions.

Do Your Homework

Especially when you’re dating “blind” – for example, when you’ve met on-line – you know nothing whatsoever about the other person’s identity or background other than what they tell you.

For those with a dubious agenda, it’s only too easy to hide behind a false persona which they use to lure their prey. The pressure is currently on internet dating sites to clearly state whether or not they perform criminal-background checks. Whether or not this comes about, if you’re in any way suspicious, make a few discreet inquiries of your own ahead of taking the plunge.

Research Your Prospective Date

To confirm your date is who and what they claim to be, you might want to run a basic background check on them on one of the many websites currently offering this facility, usually at a very low cost. You can use this as a means of corroborating their true age and date of birth – and it may also help to weed out married people falsely claiming to be single.

Googling your date to establish they haven’t any scary skeletons in the closet is now standard practice, but cases of mistaken identity can throw up inaccurate and off-putting results. If your date shares their name with someone “undesirable”, it could nip a potential romance in the bud.

Who’s the Real Person Behind the Mask?

Looking up a prospective date on a social networking site like Facebook, is a popular way of gaining some idea about their personality, friends and interests. Bear in mind, though, that this will only tell you what they want others to know about them – not necessarily who they really are.

For the most reliable information about someone’s true personality and agenda, check them out on AstroReveal’s ‘Who Are You Really Dating?’. Because everyone’s on their best behavior at first, it’s hard to know who’s the real person behind the mask. But by taking a revealing look at the secrets contained in your date’s birth chart, this feature provides some amazing insights.

Firstly, of course, you’ll need to obtain their date, place – and if possible time – of birth (see “How to Obtain Birth Information” to learn how to go about this).

Guard Your Privacy

Naturally you want to find out as much as possible about the other person, but it’s best not to reveal too much about yourself to begin with. If you’re using a web-based dating forum, first and foremost ensure that it’s stringently protective of your privacy. The key is to retain your anonymity until a sense of mutual trust has been built up.

Not until you feel totally comfortable with your date, should you give away personal information by which your whereabouts could be traced against your wishes. Most importantly, don’t disclose details of your home address or place of work – or their telephone numbers – at the very start. Many people also set up an alternative email address which they use exclusively for the purpose of on-line dating.

Look Out For Red Flags

Withholding personal information is only acceptable, however, during the initial stages of a contact. Trust has to come in at some point, and if we’re genuinely interested in developing a relationship, we should have no reason to be afraid of openness.

A refusal to reveal one’s home phone number, for example, after a reasonable length of time is a sign that someone’s uncomfortable, for some reason, about receiving dating calls at home. This is a red flag that suggests they have something to hide and should set warning bells ringing.

Beware Gold-Diggers!
Another red flag that alerts you that something could be wrong is when the other person frequently contradicts themselves or fails to stick to the same story. It’s hard to maintain a deception consistently – and liars usually trip themselves up.

Be wary, too, of individuals who seem a little too curious about your financial status, while telling you nothing about theirs, and subsequently ask for money. This may seem like obvious advice. But a surprising number of otherwise perfectly rational people have fallen victim to gold-diggers, having been hooked by declarations of love.

The First Meeting

Before meeting up in person with a new date there are some basic rules you should always adhere to for your personal safety.

         Always ask for your date’s full name and address – and if necessary check it out – before agreeing to go out with them.

         Always tell someone where you’re going, and when, and leave your date’s full name and address with this person.

–         Always meet in a busy, public place on neutral territory, and don’t take your date back to your house (or go back to theirs) on the occasion of the first meeting.

–         Put yourself in control by organizing your own transport, buying your own drink and ensuring you have plenty of cash on you.

–         Always have an exit strategy. The usual one is to go to the bathroom, ring a friend on your cell phone or mobile and ask them to ring you back in five minutes. You can then pretend an emergency has arisen and you have to leave immediately.