Ask Dr. Tracy

Going Beyond E-Mail

I'm a big believer in having a lot of prospects to choose between, and despite some reservations I mention in "The Pitfalls of CyberLove", you could find an interesting prospect through online dating/matchmaking services or plain old e-mail.

The problem with taking a next step is that you probably know nothing about the person other than what he or she has told you. Since this situation also applies to responses from classified ads, my advice applies to them, too. However, men don't seem to worry much about meeting strange ladies, despite the movie "Fatal Attraction"; so guys, you're excused unless you're curious, and I'll direct my advice primarily to you ladies.

The Phone Number Exchange

The first step beyond the anonymity of e-mail or a voice mailbox tied to a classified ad is exchanging phone numbers so you can schmooze a little. It's important for you to understand that this is an irreversible step (your phone number can be traced to your address). I endorse the advice given by Phyllis Phlegar in her "Love On Line" to not give out your number to a stranger, but rather get his number and then call him from a public phone some distance from your home.

The First Meeting

If he sounds both interesting and safe over the phone, I'd still hold off on giving him your number until you've met -- of course in a public place.

"Guidelines for that First Date" takes the situation from there, but there's one further precaution I'd suggest taking with a complete stranger: think about setting up the meeting so that it would be difficult or impossible for him to follow you home. Chances are you'll never have to use a devious retreat, but if you start to get bad vibes from this guy, you'll be very glad you planned ahead.

Related Keywords: Dating Strategies, Over-Romanticizing

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