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I was walking on California's Stinson Beach in August 2009 when I struck up a conversation with a woman who seemed utterly delightful.

Captivated, I invited her to dinner at my house that evening. While I ate my dinner, she drank hers — then refused to leave. My acquaintance of 12 hours bizarrely insisted that we were living together.

In fact, according to, more than 40 million Americans use online dating services. With online dating comes the potential for stalkers, liars, and downright shady people who are out for all sorts of negative gains.

Of course that's true for more traditional dating, but it's way easier to hide behind a computer screen and do all sorts of nefarious things.

And, before you meet in person, move the conversation from online to phone.

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So if you're thinking about signing yourself up for Tinder or Match, remember to make your safety a priority while dating online.If you're in a dry spell, or feel like you're quickly clicking with someone, it can be tempting to rush out for a date after only one or two conversations.But resist the urge to move too fast, lest you find yourself in a sketchy situation.According to Silver, "Odds are this guy is totally nice and well intentioned, and I get that you don't want to put him off. Say your feet hurt, you're exhausted, anything to just politely hop in a cab and head home on your own, even if it's only a few blocks away." Basically it's better to be overly cautious than to find yourself in a dangerous situation.Whether it's in person or online, it can be tough to leave a situation when it starts to go downhill.There's no reason to be scared of online dating, and most situations end up just fine, but you should definitely look out for yourself when it comes to meeting up with strangers from the Internet. We all remember from our AIM chat room days that you should never give a stranger too much information.

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