Dating after divorce can feel like a big maze, with all kinds of ways to meet the next Mr. or Ms. Right. However, it’s important to keep dating safety rules in mind as you get out there and meet new people.

By Sabrina Touchino

Dating after divorce in the internet age can be an exciting way to meet someone new, but it’s important to be safe. Caution is the keyword here. It doesn’t matter how or where you’ve met someone — whether it was through the personals, online, at a bar, or even though friends — don’t ignore dating safety by rushing into too much intimacy too fast. Don’t be too quick to give your phone number, address, deeply personal information — or your body — to a virtual stranger. Some of life’s dangers are beyond your control, but you can protect yourself against others.

“Get to know someone on the phone before planning to meet up with them,” says Emily Thornton Cavlo, co-author of 25 Words or Less, a book on how to write an effective, personal ad. “Take your time and get to know their sense of humor, their interests, and hear about their lives, so you have a better idea of who you are meeting — or if you really want to meet them.”

Dating after divorce requires you to use common sense when you plan to meet face-to-face with someone new. Here are a few dating safety tips to help keep you safe:

  • Never invite strangers to your home until they are no longer strangers. This means you don’t give your address to anyone until you feel reasonably sure he/she won’t hurt you when you are alone with him/her, or try to break into your home to carry off your precious possessions when you’re away.
  • Meet in a public spot, preferably during the day. Coffee is quick, and if things are going well, you can always extend it into a meal. But if you arrange to meet for dinner and a movie, your evening may seem like an eternity if things are going badly.
  • Use your own transportation. After you’ve met the person, if you have any doubts at all about him or her, don’t allow yourself to be driven to dinner or to the theater. Take your own car. If you have strong doubts, don’t go.
  • If you don’t have a car, make sure you have some cash and a credit card so you can get home.
  • Carry change for a telephone or bring a cellular phone.
  • Leave a trail. If you’re going out with someone for the first time, let a friend or family member know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and who you’re with. Tell them you’re going out with someone you don’t know very well and give them your date’s name, phone number, and any information that you may have about the person.
  • Be on the lookout for inconsistency. “Does the information you’ve received during your date agree with the facts you got over the phone, through e-mail, etc.?” says Minsky. “If the person is still very secretive about where they work or live even after several conversations, this can be a sign that there may be a hidden agenda that isn’t in your best interests.”
  • Keep your financial situation to yourself. Be wary of too many questions about your assets. Don’t be persuaded to invest in anything without full investigation.
  • At the end of a date, make sure you aren’t being followed home. If you are being followed, drive to a police station or a friend’s apartment where you can call the police.
  • If you don’t like the person, don’t give him or her your home phone number. Give a phony number, if it will let you make your exit without creating a scene.
  • Trust your gut. Dating safety 101 tells you if you have a feeling that there’s something wrong, then there’s something wrong. And you should go with that feeling. All in all, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Also remember not to take your date’s reticence on certain matters personally. They may just be protecting themselves in case you turn out to be a psycho. For the first few weeks, if he doesn’t want you to see his car, or she doesn’t want to tell you where she lives, that’s smart. If it’s been six months, however, you should smell a rat.