So we are dating online. We made the decision to make safe choices. We are prepared to keep our private information private. Now we are ready to start interacting with, hopefully, available and worthwhile potential mates. However, we want to treat every person as the complete stranger that they really are. Unsafe and abusive people are often easily picked out once you know what you are looking for. Take the time to qualify persons of interest before allowing yourself to become vulnerable or emotionally invested.
Know What You Want. Making a list of what is negotiable and not negotiable in a potential partner will greatly improve safety as well as save time and heartache. If you are open to everything you may accept anything. Take the time to think about your needs and become willing to reject attention from unqualified candidates immediately. Prepare a generic response like,
“I appreciate having had your attention, but I don’t want to waste your time. We aren’t compatible based on my needs. Good luck!”
Absolutely no explanation or response is helpful or required after rejection of a candidate that falls into the “Not Negotiable” category. No matter what they say - simply move along. A reasonable and respectful person will appreciate you for it. You want to find the few who fit that list.
Use Generic Responses. When answering questions, use already planned out generic responses and pay attention to their reactions. Multiple additional questions may be genuine curiosity, but if a person is not accepting your answers or is continually prying, that’s a clue. A healthy person will be patient while you build trust before giving out private details. Belittling, challenging or insulting blatantly shows you they are not respectful, and it's highly unlikely things will improve as time goes on. You are looking for the person who is happy with the amount of information you are comfortable divulging.
Share Your Feelings. Share your feelings to see how they respond. Be disagreeable at least once. It doesn’t have to be intentional; an organic opportunity should present itself at some point for you to share negative feelings. A person who tells another they are wrong for their feelings or that they should feel differently is not being respectful. Note when a person is insulting or belittling of your thoughts or feelings. There are safe people who can be disrespectful, or it could also be a sign that they may down the line prove to be or become an abusive partner. You are looking for the person who is accepting and cherishing of those feelings.
Trying Saying No. If you have been turning down unwanted attention, you may have already noticed some are not very accepting of being told “No.” Every explosive response is a bullet dodged. Any person who discredits, discounts, argues or sidesteps your “no” is risky. Be sure that the people you are potentially interested in and messaging have the opportunity to show their true colors in that arena, too. Try a "no, thank you" to a request to see their response. You want to engage with the person who responds with "okay".
Recognize Risky Behavior. If someone you just started messaging seems overly generous or if they give way too much information or offer a loan, notice that. When someone challenges your character or willingness to take risk, pay attention. Note any mention of violence or physical safety, especially offering a promise of safety, and even in jest. You want safe and respectful conversations.
If you are willing to take these suggestions the majority of candidates will easily be weeded out. Ideally, this part of the process is done before meeting a person face to face, but that doesn't work for every personality type - and that's okay. You can use this information before or in conjunction with the next article on Meeting Safely.