The online world is generating many different ways to meet people for different purposes. There are meetups for those with similar interests, looking for friendships with like-minded individuals. There are also networking groups dedicated to establishing professional relationships. And, of course, there is online dating. On the other hand, a quick Google search results in hundreds of cautionary tales portraying stories similar to the ’90s hit “Single White Female” in which not knowing enough about someone ends up in tragedy. So, how to take advantage of this world of opportunities while remaining safe? Trust is a process that takes time. Here are some ideas to help you become a better character judge and choose who to trust. 

Information

How much you know about someone is the first step to determine whether you trust them or not. In a world permeated by data analysis and information technologies, uncovering someone’s background is a matter of a few dollars and some clicks. Checkpeople.com gives you a comprehensive report including relevant and updated information about someone’s marital status, criminal history, social media, and other important facts. Your search is anonymous and the site takes privacy seriously. They also have a professional customer support team, available 24/7.

Interaction and Intuition

Regardless of what you know about someone, building trust is also a matter of interaction. During the first few occasions you meet, pay attention to how they relate to other people, how they react to complicated situations, or how they express themselves when talking about others. Someone who’s rude or violent with others will become violent towards you too. Also, pay attention to your own feelings and trust your gut. If someone seems too good to be true, they most likely are. If you believe that there are things that don’t add up, or you think they are lying, confront them as soon as possible. Finally, if you feel uncomfortable with someone, you are in no way obligated to move forward with a relationship. 

Baby Steps

A big mistake some people make is moving too fast. And because you are actually dealing with a stranger, it can put you at risk. Take your time to feel comfortable around someone before opening your life to them. At first, keep interactions within the platform that brought you together. Most of them have safety checks in place and will be able to intervene if things go wrong. Always ask for a video call before meeting in real life. You want to be sure that the person you are talking to is actually who they say they are. This is especially relevant when online dating, as there are reported incidents of fake identities used to lure women into human trafficking networks. During your first in-person encounters, always limit things to public places and arrange for your own transportation. 

According to research around social media and online activity, here are some things to help you stay safe:

    • Don’t overshare. Giving away too much personal information makes you more vulnerable to scammers.
    • Never agree to give money to someone you haven’t met in real life and with whom you haven’t built trust. 
    • Don’t go to their house or invite them to yours during the first interactions. Stay in public places in which you feel comfortable and safe. 
    • Beware of people who display very intense feelings. The girl that you just met and know refers to you as her BFF? Red flag. The guy who proposes before an actual date? Huge red flag. Recognizing when someone is lying is not that difficult, but it is a skill you need to build. 
    • Talk to your friends and family. When we are eager for connection or recognition, we tend to overlook danger. Talk to your loved ones as a way to remain grounded and manage your own expectations. Another set of eyes can help you look at things from a different perspective.

Building trust is a process that takes time and patience. Never continue with a relationship in which you feel forced to move too fast. Pay attention, stay open, and learn about the other person before becoming too close. While it can be exciting and refreshing to know and interact with new people, the most important thing is to stay safe.

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