1. Remember Fantasy Is Not Reality
Men can get caught up in the fantasy of meeting the perfect woman, but in reality, no such woman exists. And remember, the women you meet online are likely to have been dissatisfied with those men they have already met in real life, so they may be harder to please, or they may have another agenda, such as meeting a particularly rich or successful man, or one who has certain predefined characteristics that you may or may not have.
In any event, in the online dating world, less is more. Women can reveal and conceal a lot more about themselves in an online profile than they can in reality, it can be easier to lie or manipulate the truth, and they can also target the man they want. So don't expect online dating to be any easier then dating in the real world, and remember that by putting yourself out there as looking for a date, you might actually be making yourself a target for someone who is looking for someone to exploit.
2. Be Age-Aware
One of the most serious aspects of the online sex industry is child sexual abuse, and although the internet is not adequate regulated at present, there is an increasing level of policing of the internet for child abuse. You may even find that the attractive young girl you have been flirting with online is in fact a police officer, and you don't want to spend your first date in jail. If you are using the internet to seek out an underage sex partner, get help immediately by contacting the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health.
A common mistake is for a man to get involved with a young woman who is under the age of consent, which carries serious criminal charges. You can even get into trouble for using the internet to arrange a date with an underage girl, and claiming that she told you she was older will not necessarily stand up in court. It can be difficult to accurately judge the age of a potential date, so steer clear of anyone who you think might be younger than is legal.
Avoid online chat rooms to meet dates, as they carry the highest risks. Using a dating agency is expensive, and there are many scams out there, but if you are serious about wanting to meet a woman online, signing up with a reputable online dating agency might be the best way to avoid the risk of inadvertently dating someone underage.
3. Reduce Your Financial Risk
Men who are looking for a date may not feel vulnerable, but there are many ways you can lose money through online dating.
First, some of the women who are available for online dating are in fact sex workers. If they are experts at the sales aspect of their business, they will wait until you are well and truly hooked, before they request or demand money, or their pimp shows up.
Secondly, there are women who are not engaged in the sex trade, but are looking for men to exploit financially, either by manipulating them to spend money on dates (buying meals etc), to buy expensive gifts, to give them loans, or to steal from them. The worst case scenario is to be manipulated into marrying a woman who is expoloiting you financially. The key point to remember here is that these women are not interested in you as a person, or in dating or having sex with you -- although they may do these things as a means to an end -- they are only interested in your money.
Thirdly, there are women who may blackmail you, particularly if you have any unusual sexual desires or practices, and who may threaten you with exposing you publically in some way. Don't underestimate the power of humiliation to part you with your cash.
The key to avoiding financial damage is to remain as discreet as possible about your financial status. Don't brag about how much you earn, avoid flashy shows of wealth, such as a fancy car, a fancy watch or an expensive restaurant. Avoid giving your address, and resist the urge to overspend on your date. You might even agree ahead of time how the bill will be paid, and consider it a red flag if a woman "expects" the man to pay for everything.
4. Protect Your Privacy
As well as the financial risks associated with disclosing personal information, there are personal risks associated with giving too much information to an online date. Some people have a history of bad relationships, or mental health problems that make their reactions to your behavior on or after a date unpredictable.
For example, you may meet a women online who seems completely charming, you may give her your address and invite her over for an intimate dinner. And then during the date, you might realize she is someone you do not want to see again. If she, on the other hand, is besotted with you, you might have a very hard time is she starts coming over uninvited, following you around, causing a scene in your neighbourhood, or enlisting the help of your neighbours in connecting with you.
Even giving out your phone number or email address can be a nuisance if the woman you give it too won't take no for an answer. So set up a hotmail or gmail account just for online dating, and if you are harrassed, simply delete the account.
5. Don't Get Kinky
Online sex is addictive. One of the risks of cybersex, whether viewing porn or online dating, is that you can get drawn into sexual ideas and practices that you would never have considered otherwise. One of the reasons for this is that when online sex becomes compulsive, and you are spending more and more time engaging in online sex, you can get bored with the straightforward sexual ideas you used to find exciting, and at the same time, you can inadvertently get exposed to sexual practices you would never have considered before.
If this happens, or if you find that you are becoming interested in unusual sexual practices, particularly those involving illegal activities or those involving pain or humiliation, or any form of abuse, it is time to take a break. If you can't handle the idea of a break from online sex, contact the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health, or use their online therapist listing to get professional help.