How do you minimize risk when meeting someone for the first time?
However, I am aware that despite all of the communication that I don't really know this man. So, I am wondering what measures you would suggest I use to stay safe while still being able to make the next step and actually meet up?
I don't believe that is true that meeting people online is more dangerous than meeting someone in another way. The vast majority of people out there are actually decent honest folks, but clearly it is still a good idea to take some basic steps to ensure your safety. Oh, and just for the record I once flew half way around the world to meet up with a man I met on the Internet. He is now my husband.
Clearly if you are wanting to meet this man in person you have already developed a connection with him that is fuelling your desire to move things along. Probably the most important piece of advice I can give you is that you should trust your instinct. If it feels right, then it most likely is right. If something feels wrong, stop and think and take some time to figure out what feels wrong and why it feels wrong to you.
Here are my five practical tips to meeting someone in person for the first time. Despite the original question being asked by a female, these tips apply equally to both genders.
1. Agree to meet for the first time in a neutral, public place such as a coffee shop, restaurant, or shopping mall. You should avoid quiet, back streets, parks, rural settings, and under no circumstances agree to meet at either person's residence.
2. Be very clear about why you are meeting. By this, I mean: let's meet for dinner/drink/coffee etc. Do not let yourself be pressured into moving to a more private space until you feel ready and confident that it feels right for you.
3. Establish some facts about the person before agreeing to meet them. Demanding to see their ID and bank balance might be a bit much, but knowing their full name, where they work, and such should be general facts that someone who has nothing to hide would be willing to share. Take the time to verify the information given. I am certainly not suggesting that you stalk someone to verify their personal details. Taking a few moments to Google them and establish that they are who they say they are is perfectly reasonable.
4. Make sure you have enough money to pay for your coffee, drink, or dinner. Do not assume it will be paid for by your date. You should have a plan for getting home, too. Also take the normal sensible security arrangement you would with your belongings. Do not leave your bag unattended while you go to the bathroom.
5. Arrange for a safe call. This is a trusted friend that will take the time to check up on you. Tell them who you are meeting, where and what time the meeting will take place, and arrange to call them or for them to call you during the date. I would suggest a call near the beginning to confirm you have got there safely and met the person. Call later to verify that you are safe. You should also plan for a final call to let your friend know that you made it home safe and sound. This person must be someone you trust will not forget. If they do, then the whole system is broken you are left in a very vulnerable position. It also lets the person that you are meeting know that you have friends whom you communicate with and know about your life. Anyone who feels uncomfortable or threatened by this is, in my opinion, someone you should probably not be going on a date with in the first place.
With these safety tips in mind, I really do encourage you to do this. The best decision I ever made was to get on that plane to go meet the bloke from the internet.