Do not meet someone at his home on the first date.
Your home is one of the most private, personal things about you. Establishing boundaries early is important. After all, you wouldn't run your new love interest over to your parents' house for a formal dinner on your first date. Not only is this too much too soon, but it also can be a safety issue. Meet your online date in public, and drive there yourself. Maybe go so far as to line up plans a couple hours after your first date. It gives you an exit strategy if you need it -- or help you beat the temptation of going home with someone with whom you shouldn't go home.
Leave your information with someone.
It's baffling how many people are too embarrassed to leave the details of their date with someone. Yes, you're an adult who can take care of yourself, but ah, have you ever heard of a roofie? It doesn't matter how clever you are or how proficient your martial arts skills are. If someone drugs you, clonks you over the head and throws you in the trunk, you'll be wishing you had text-messaged your girlfriend your location and the name and number of creep-o.
If he refuses to supply a picture, be skeptical.
We're not trying to be superficial and petty -- but if you read enough online dating stories, you'll soon stumble on a common thread with people who didn't supply photos. It's more than just looking unattractive. Generally speaking, issues with basic hygiene and hostile attitudes seem to crop up in these situations.
Pay for the service.
You'll spend a few bucks on toilet paper but you won't invest in finding a companion? Please. When it comes to online dating services, the old adage "you get what you pay for" is definitely alive and well. Your odds of connecting with a bottom feeder decline dramatically when you are using a service in which most of the individuals are at least serious enough to plunk down $30 a month.
Consider getting an agent.
The perception that online dating services are for the socially awkward and undateable persists. While that may be marginally true, the reality is that single people are tired of trying to find meaningful conversation at the local bar (primarily because there is no such thing). If you fall into the second category and want to dip your toe into the online dating pool, consider doing it with another single friend and act as each other's agent. It will help you keep your profile more honest by being accountable to someone else, and a friend can help you weed through the responses. This sort of alliance also has a built-in tracking program for when you do meet a first date, which we have already mentioned is a good idea for safety reasons.