Questioning the legitimacy of online friends.

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I've recently made a friend online and we are talking about meeting up, however I find myself questioning there legitimacy. by this I mean not wether they are actually a friend, but if they are who they say they are. I am like this with all online friends until I receive proof e.g a picture of themselves which is clearly not from the Internet. I feel like I could ruin a friendship this way by being overly suspicious of people. I think i feel this way because ever since I was young I've been told "don't speak to people online you don't know who they really are" obviously this is aimed at children but this has followed me through despite being an adult now. I think I may stop feeling this way once a meet this friend however until them I apologise to this friend if they are reading this.
I think in this matter, the important thing is to determine why you are questioning your friend's legitimacy. If they're behaving in a straightforward, decent matter to you with no major warning bells, your questioning is probably your problem. If there are problems in the relationship, would a picture really fix it?

It makes sense to get as much information as you need in order to maintain the kind of relationship you have. If you're friends who talk about mutual interests and you live far apart, there's no real reason to have anything more from each other than that talk. If you're getting emotionally attached with some kind of eye toward future intimacy, it makes sense to want to see each other. This may be more of a problem with ABDLs, who can be reasonably concerned for their privacy.

There's no hard and fast rules to apply. Be mindful of your own needs and biases and use a light touch in probing so that you don't come off like an ass.
You gotta be careful!

I would be suspicious about anyone that was funny about it if they were actually planning on meeting you in person.

Only friendship that could be ruined is one that wouldn't work.
I would Skype with them. That way you get to see them in "real time" and you know what they look like. If you decide to have a meet up, have the initial meeting in a public place like a mall. That still doesn't protect you from a predictor, but it gives you more information as to what this person's intentions might be. Because you are only 18, you could be a sexual attraction to someone older, and if your friend is male, I would be cautious.

When I was in college, older male students would get me drunk so they could have their way with me. I had Borderline Personality Disorder problems so emotionally, I was an easy mark, easily taken advantage of, so be careful.
I have more online friends than RL friends, and have met several of them in person. The way I usually operate is that I pretend (in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way) that everyone on the internet is male, working for a 3 letter agency, and occasionally murders people for entertainment. I don't reclassify them as who they say they are until I've actually met them (and even then, you never know).

That said, without context about OPs situation I can't really give much in the way of specific advice. My personal experience is all with people I'd known and corresponded with for a long time, and the correspondence was always over normal things (I.e. not fetish related). The meeting places were always very public, and I never felt any different towards them after meeting up.
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