Nowadays, you don't actually have to meet someone face to face to have a relationship with them. The internet allows people across the globe to interact with each other, and has opened the way for online dating. Many sites have already taken advantage of this; from Christiansingles.com to EHarmony, online dating sites have just popped up everywhere, catering to just about everything.
While this allows for people across the world to form relationships that they otherwise never would have, it is also very easy to lie. However, if you know what to look for, you can identify who is trying to cause some kind of harm to you, without giving them that chance. Thusly, I have three rules to help ensure that you practice safe internet dating.
The first rule is never ever arrange a real life meeting with someone without first using some type of video chat with the person. Yes, pictures are nice, but they can be faked and manipulated easily, while live video chat can't be. Should someone refuse to do a video chat but still wants to meet in person, then they probably have some ulterior motive. If they claim not to have a video camera, be sure to tell them that you won't meet them until they get one; typing that you are one thing means nothing and should never be flat out trusted; especially if you are going to meet them in real life. Agreeing to meet someone without a video chat first is extremely dangerous and stupid, and should never be done.
The second rule is always have a confidant. By keeping a third party informed of what all is going on, you decrease the chances of you doing something stupid like agreeing to meet someone without a video chat. If this confidant is someone who knows you, then they should be able to realize when you are not thinking for yourself. Listen to that confidant, don't assume that they are just trying to ruin your love life; if you do assume that, you should pause and consider WHY you think that. If you have no reason for it, then you should consider that you have been manipulated into being dependent on the lover. If you ever feel that you need someone and would do anything for them, you should slow everything down; they should be more than willing to do so, and if they aren't then you should get out of that relationship ASAP.
My third rule for safe internet dating is to always trust your instincts. If you're chatting with someone, and for some reason they just make you feel nervous, DON'T agree to meet them; preferably just end all contact. Your instincts are very powerful tools and shouldn't be ignored. While your instincts won't work very well with text, during a video chat they will work. If the person makes you feel insecure, end all contact with them. Chances are, they aren't safe.
By following these three rules, you should be able to protect yourself from harm. The video chat prevents any form of lying about who/what someone is. The confidant prevents you being manipulated by someone else into doing things you wouldn't normally do. And your instincts are always active, keeping you aware of your surroundings.