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The single moms' guide to safe online dating

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While I admit that I tried internet dating, and that it was a total failure, there are still some good things about it for people who approach it safely. However, I feel like there is a level of extra care for single parents that is unique.

As a single mom, I have the added pressure of protecting my kids from anyone that might be a danger that I meet online or elsewhere. So if you choose to do it, do it smart. Here are some tips for dating a little safer online as a single parent.

1. Keep your kids out of it

Aside from saying you have kids, I would be very limited with that information. Honestly, as a mom of three daughters, I felt like I would be holding them up as a tease for any predator. So I never said the age or sex of my kids.

2. Create a new email for contact

Use Gmail or even a non-trackable service like GMX to set up your dating email contact. You don't want to use your main one which is probably easily searchable online. If you have ever entered your email to companies or shopping sites, they could be traced back to you. Creating one just for online dating is just smart.

3. Use extreme caution with the information you give

No man needs to know your last name, the company name you work at or any details you would not give a telephone solicitor. "Legitimate online daters will understand the reasons for doing this and will be doing the same themselves. Also, when you decide to give someone your phone number online, use your cell, rather than your home or work phone. If things don't work out, cell phone numbers are much easier to change." Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., aka The Love Doctor

4. Follow your own internal instincts

I had several men tell me story after story only to find out they were untrue. Even though I had reservations and hesitations in talking to them, I continued. In the end, the lies were blown up and I was left feeling like a fool. If I had followed my gut to begin with, I would have avoided that added frustration.

5. Make it OK to walk away

Though one bad experience does not mean you have to shut it down completely, be prepared to walk away when you need to. Internet dating and the seeming ease of talking to people when you are most vulnerable can lead to an addictive type of situation where it is hard to shut it down. Though I never met 90 percent of the people I talked to, I found myself wanting to hear from them. When I found myself checking messages when my kids were home, it was time to stop. And stop completely. Walking away can sometimes be what you need to gain some perspective.

There are millions of people who find the one for life on the internet. Otherwise it would not be a booming business. With some safety techniques in place, you can protect you and your kids from the strangers in the computer that could make it a bad experience.

Photo credit: Paul Bradbury/caiaimage/Getty Images
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