How to protect yourself from online dating dangers

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Valentine's Day is just around the corner meaning many people may be looking for their soul mates on their smartphones through online dating apps.

Experts argue the dating world is both new and exciting. It also can be intimidating and frightening.

In December 2014, a Friendswood woman met a man on meetme.com, only for him to rob her. That same month, a young woman was charged with meeting teenage boys online and inviting them to a party, only for her boyfriend to rob them at gunpoint.

Eyewitness News sat down with dating expert Dr. D Ivan Young. He shared several tips about venturing into the online world.

First, he said forget it's Valentine's Day. Carry no expectations when meeting people online. Be honest and speak your mind, even if that means being politically incorrect. Also Dr. Young stressed, the internet can create a story. People present themselves as their best, like on a job.

"The truth is that's a narrative, that's a commercial," said Dr. Young. "If you really want to look at online dating and take it serious, do it the same way you do TV commercials for products. Until you try the product, don't believe the hype."

Dr. Young also said when online, make sure you write down conversations. Look for inconsistencies where someone's story just does not add up. Make sure to talk on the phone before meeting in person. Check other social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Lastly if you're meeting up for the first time, pick a neutral location.
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