Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas Into Discoveries – Dating Safety Online


When it comes to online dating, being super cautious is being super smart


Q. I’ve had a few online chats with a man my age who I met on one of the dating sites. He wants to chat on the phone before meeting, but only if I give him my number too. He won’t accept my calls unless they show my phone number. I’d rather just meet in a public place and see if we click. If we don’t then I know he doesn’t have my phone number and cannot dig for more information about me. Should I be skeptical? I feel like my security will be compromised by giving out my phone number. What do you think?
– Debbie, Toronto

A. Yes, be skeptical. Online dating safety is very important and your concerns are valid. According to Julie Spira, the U.S.-based online dating expert and best-selling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating, being super cautious is being super smart.

“Here’s the thing – and it’s a gender issue. It’s the man’s place to make the woman feel safe in an online dating situation and even offline,” says Julie. “It’s also a woman’s right to ration her information flow to protect her identity.”

So there you go. He needs to do whatever he can to make you feel safe. That’s the bottom line. It’s also a good predictor of potential future issues. “If he truly wants to talk on the phone he should make it comfortable for you,” insists Julie. So if you feel better calling him and blocking your number in the process so he can’t find out what it is, then he should agree to that. And why wouldn’t he?

“If he doesn’t respect that, what else won’t he respect?” Julie asks. “It’s not a great sign.”

With all the online tools available for matching phone numbers and addresses, it’s only natural to assume someone is going to try and dig up information to find out who you are. The thing is, YOU should be the one to control that flow. If this guy won’t respect that then it’s time to move on and find someone who will, insists Julie. “Guys need to understand that if they won’t allow a woman to call from a blocked number they run the risk of looking like a jerk.”

And if they refuse?

“There are millions of perfect singles looking for love online who’d be happy to say ‘what do you prefer – shall I call you or would you like to call me’?”

Before anybody gets to the phone stage, however, Julie advises sending a few emails back and forth – as you’ve done. Everybody’s different as to how many, she acknowledges, and some people prefer to skip right to meeting in person and bypass the phone altogether, but that’s not what she recommends.

After emailing, she suggests setting a date on the calendar to talk on the phone to “see if there’s any chemistry.” And if there’s not? “Then forget about meeting in person, you’ll just feel like you’re in the dentist’s chair,” says Julie. “You’ll feel like you’re pulling teeth and it will be very uncomfortable.”


A professional journalist for more than 25 years, Diane Sewell has written for some of the top newspapers and magazines in Canada and is a Baby Boomer herself.