One of the most common concerns people have about online dating is how to know whether someone you met on the Internet is trustworthy or not. I’ve learned through experience that there are steps you can take to build genuine and mutual trust with someone over the Internet.
I was skeptical at first that this was possible. We’re just typing back and forth, I thought to myself, how do I know this person is who he says he is? But the precautions my boyfriend and I took when first getting to know each other proved me wrong. By taking things slowly and being very intentional with our conversations, we were able to build trust with one another and to create a healthy foundation for romance.
Here are the steps I took with my current boyfriend that helped us form our relationship:
1. Start out as friends. Whether you meet a guy for the first time online or in person, the main goal is to find out if you have enough common ground to explore a friendship. Notice I didn’t say “relationship.” That’s because a relationship is a deepened form of a pre-existing friendship.
2. Take things slow. Don’t let infatuation cause you to jump into a relationship too soon. Keep the conversation casual at first—talking about your occupations, your likes and dislikes, where you live. This will help you decide if this is someone you even want to spend time with and with whom you can continue to build trust.
3. Once you’ve decided there’s enough common ground there to continue talking, dive into a deeper conversation. Ask them about some of the more serious things they chose to mention about themselves in their dating profile. Creating a dating profile should be about sharing who you are so you can find someone who is compatible with you. So the information they chose to share there may be some of the most important thoughts, opinions, and beliefs that make them who they are.
4. Move beyond the small talk, focus on crucial subjects that will make or break a relationship. Talking about these things will create a firm foundation for trust to grow and for a possible relationship to flourish. When my boyfriend and I were at this stage, we focused on talking about topics like faith, where we want to be in 5 years, and about our hopes and dreams for our lives.
That’s not to say that we didn’t talk about less serious things like our favorite foods or the type of music we like. We just made sure most of our conversation was focused on subjects we knew would help us decide whether we want to meet in person or not. Also, each response we exchanged was fairly lengthy. We wanted to give detailed enough answers so that we felt we were truly getting to know each other.
5. When you feel like you both trust each other enough to meet in person, make sure to plan activities that allow you to be in public. As much as you feel you know and trust this individual, it’s still a good safeguard to wait a few dates before being alone with him or her.
On our first two dates, my boyfriend and I went to restaurants, took walks, and went to coffee shops. This allowed us to keep getting to know each other in person while also giving each of us the space to decide that we trusted each other enough to eventually plan dates that don’t always involve other people. That’s not necessarily because they’re dangerous or anything, you may just not have the same feelings of intimacy in person as you did when talking online.
It can sometimes be tricky navigating the waters of online dating and figuring out whether you can trust someone or not. I’ve found that slow and steady really does win the race. Take your time and be intentional. By doing this you’ll know whether someone is worthy of your trust or not.