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crystal_small.jpgby Crystal Dervetski

Last month, we talked about where atheists can meet people online, which is one of the easiest ways to meet people. That leads us into the safety concerns for meeting someone, and other places to meet people who share your beliefs.

When meeting someone online, first, assess their profile. Does it seem legitimate? If you can, have a trusted friend take a look at it. This is another advantage of meeting people online: it's quite easy to email that profile to a second party!

Email or text message the person for a period of time. Become comfortable with who they are in writing, and their personal style. You can learn a lot from how a person writes, both formally and informally. Ask some questions, and get to know them over the net.

When you decide to meet in person, make sure it's in a place where you both feel comfortable. Always meet in public the first time. Do not tell someone where you live or have them pick you up! Meet at the designated location and arrange for your own transportation. If alcohol is going to be involved, keep track of your drinking - do not drink too much. Not only could this make you unsafe, but it may not be a great first impression for your date!

If you decide to go for another date, continue to meet in public (both arranging your own way to get there) until you feel comfortable with that person. Most of all, you should try to relax at least a bit and not be too afraid of all of the internet meeting horror stories you've heard. Meeting someone on the internet can, many times, give you more information about that person than meeting them in other, more conventional ways.

Remember, whether you've met on the web or in person, if you are ever uncomfortable at any point in your interactions with someone else, make sure to discontinue those interactions! It is very important to follow your instincts and intuition with other people in any setting. Do not set yourself up for anything that makes you feel uneasy or may be dangerous.

Maybe you're not ready for the internet spin on dating or meeting friends? Where atheists meet people outside of the internet is not really different than where anyone else would go to meet people. If you are specifically looking to find another atheist (whether as a pal or to share your life with), you will have to tweak your methods a bit. Join organizations that coincide with your beliefs, especially local organizations, which offer more opportunities to meet those in your area. Think of local groups, such as Minnesota Atheists, that cater to your point of view and allow you to meet people in the area. Minnesota Atheists has two Meet Up groups, and other local organizations have their own as well!

If you're finding there are not many, or any, local groups for people that you would like to meet, for friends or dating, think of starting one! Yes, it will take some work, but it will surely get you out and meeting people and will be a sure-fire way for others to take notice of you.

Volunteer for social causes that you believe in outside of your atheistic beliefs, such as politics and philanthropic work. You will meet people that at least share your politics and ideals, and hopefully from there, also share your atheist perspective. You can also feel good about the work you do in these organizations aside from the personal benefits they may bring.

When you go to the bookstore, find the atheist book section and take a look. Is there anyone there that looks like someone you'd like to get to know better? Maybe you'll be able to strike up a conversation, and at the very least, recommend a good book to someone who is thinking about atheism.

Above all, keep yourself open and available. No one ever met a friend or date by sitting alone in their house doing nothing.

Have more dating and relating issues? Have issues with this topic? What's important to you in a relationship? To read a personal volunteer story or to comment on this article, go to the online forum at mnatheists.org.

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