Meeting someone face-to face
It's always wise to be cautious when you are meeting an online friend for the first time. When you meet someone in person you can experience body language and non-verbal cues as well as their overall behaviour. Although you can hear and see someone on Skype, it's not quite the same as meeting in person.
If you choose to meet a online friend in person, consider these tips:
- Don't go alone - have someone you trust with you, or nearby and meet in a public place. Alternatively, tell a friend where you are going and ask them to call at an agreed time to check you are ok.
- Start the relationship anew. When people first meet and start new relationships they check each other out and then gradually reveal themselves, bit-by-bit bringing down their barriers. When you meet an online friend in person, treat it like a new beginning and make sure you have your barriers up, even if you think you know this person. They might not be who they say they are or who you expect them to be.
- Be in control of what is happening. Don't allow yourself to do anything that you don't want to do and make sure you have ways to leave the situation safely. Avoid drinking to excess or using recreational drugs.
- Don’t buy a one-way ticket anywhere. It's wise to have an exit plan in case of emergency or if things are not working out as you’d hoped.
- Before you get too far into a relationship, meet their friends and family and introduce the person to the people close to you. Ask yourself why and think more about the relationship if they avoid introducing you to their friends, or if you feel a concerned about the relationship. Trust your instincts and act on them.