Thank you Homer Simpson. Please don't sue me Matt Groening.
Now then, safety first...
No one wants to think their new sweetie is a deranged serial killer and, frankly, they probably aren't. Personal safety is never a fun thing to have to think about when you're in the throes of a thriving new relationship. It forces you to pay attention to things that happen in the Real World and consider the fact that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the object of your new found affection might not actually be perfect.
We've all heard the horror stores: women falling for the man of their dreams online only to discover he's more of a nightmare. It's not an uncommon occurrence to see stories on the news or in the papers about these situations and daytime talk shows seem to thrive on them. People of all ages, races and religions have been scammed out of money and possessions, assaulted, raped and killed by someone they thought they were in love with. It can happen to anyone at anytime. The trick is to take sufficient actions to make sure it doesn't happen to you.
Now I'm not ripping on the internet here, these things happen in Real World relationships too. In fact, five years ago, I met a nice guy at a show. He seemed pleasant and friendly and asked me out. I said yes and we went to dinner. Now, I was raised to always err on the side of caution. I knew nothing about this guy, so I had him pick me up at a mall near my place and drop me off at a coffee shop. A bit of the paranoid side maybe, but my motto is Better Safe Than Sorry. Real original, I know. Anyway, we went for a nice dinner and hung out at the boardwalk. He seemed like a decent guy with a good job and swell life but I didn't feel any sort of spark for him and somewhere around dessert, decided this would be our only date. At the end of the night, I thanked him for a nice time and gave him a hug. After a week or so of dropping constant hints to him that I wasn't interest, he stopped emailing. And that was that.
Except it wasn't. Seven months later, I got an email from him. A very threatening email. It had been sent to several people and I was one of the lucky ones. I contacted the police who quickly found his work and address and kept an eye on his for me. I chose not to take any legal action. For one, it wouldn't have been difficult for a lawyer to argue he meant nothing by it and it, and he, was harmless. For two, you just don't poke the bear. This guy remembered me and not fondly. If I got threats for not wanting a second date, what would pressing charges get me? I was not willing to find out. Plus, I discovered through the officers handling my case that he lived about 45 minutes away from me. Between that and knowing he didn't know where I lived, I felt safe enough. The police were extremely helpful. They kept an eye on his home and work and told me to stay in contact with them and report any further communication. I got a few more emails over the next year (all sent to several people) then nothing else. Actually, not quite nothing. I got a friend request from him on a social networking site. He had searched for me using my email address. Needless to say he was quickly denied and blocked and I reported him as someone who was contacting me after having been investigated for stalking me. Which brings me to Safety Tip #1: Learn how to block people on every communicative site you're on, from social sites to email and everything in between. Learn how to control the privacy settings so only people you know and trust are able to find out your personal info. And never be afraid to say 'no'. It's amazing how many women I've talked to who feel like they're being rude for declining a friend request or blocking a person. Well, I'd rather be rude than stalked or worse, but that's just me.