For the past few years, online dating has been enjoying skyrocketing popularity compared to how it used to be when it originally started. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering that dating websites and apps now provide singles with a brand new convenient and easy way to connect with and reach out to other people.
However, despite the ease and convenience that dating sites and apps have to offer, they also pose some new concerns and issues, specifically when it comes to user safety. For example, interacting with strangers online may only put you at risk of online harassment, digital dating abuse, online theft, catfishing, stalking, and other types of scams and fraudulent activities.
In addition to these, once you choose to meet in real life with someone you just met on a dating site or app, it becomes even more important to also guarantee your physical safety in the best way possible.
To make it a litter easier and much safer for you to navigate the world of online dating, listed below are some important tips you need to keep in mind to ensure that you stay safe and secure every time you use dating websites and apps.
Here are some tips on how to navigate the online dating world:
It’s a given that there are a lot of dating websites and apps out there, but not all of them are made equal. In fact, some people have been receiving tons of disrespectful and unpleasant messages after joining an unscrupulous dating service.
While these might not be totally avoided, as long as you create a profile on a reliable and trustworthy dating service, you can keep these issues at a minimum. Using a dating app or site where both parties are required to express their interest before they can start sending messages will lessen your risks of receiving messages that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
When you start creating your online dating profile, it is imperative to see to it that you don’t include your last name, nicknames, social media handles, and contact information. Make sure that you keep your personal information to a minimum. In the first place, once you meet someone who doesn’t seem trustworthy, the last thing you want is to have them know too much personal information about you.
It is also imperative that you further tighten the security of your social media accounts as this can help another significant layer of security and protection. On Facebook, for example, you might want to have your settings adjusted to keep your page private and ensure that it will only be viewed by your friends instead of friends of friends.
These small steps of keeping your personal information secret and confidential can go a long way to protect your security and safety in every step of your dating journey.
Now, this might sound a bit weird but yes, some people actually send money to strangers they just met online. However, this is a big no-no when it comes to online dating.
No matter how compelling and convincing the reasons of the other person might seem, never, ever respond to a request to transfer money, particularly via wire transfer or overseas.
If you ever receive such a request, make sure that you report it to the site or app you are using right away. Online dating scams have become more prevalent than ever, so when money is involved, consider it a red flag.
Google is your ultimate best friend when it comes to ensuring the success of your online dating experience. Use it to check suspicious introductions or photos to confirm whether or not the other user is a real trustworthy person and not a scammer who is only after your money.
You can report and block another user once you feel that they have a suspicious profile or better yet if that person has been acting inappropriately toward you. The good news is that these reports can be done while keeping your anonymity after or even before you have matched.
Just like with any form of personal interaction, there is always the possibility that people will misrepresent themselves. Always trust and listen to your instincts if you feel someone represents themselves honestly or not.
Listed below are some examples of several common suspicious behaviors or stories scammers might use to evoke sympathy and build trust just so they can manipulate people in an unhealthy and unsafe way:
The following are other examples of user behaviors that you might want to report to the dating site or app once you encounter them:
When you are matched with a person who doesn’t have any bio, only has a single photo posted, and doesn’t have any linked social media accounts, the user likely has a fake account. You must be extra cautious if you end up talking to someone who has very limited information. As much as possible, make sure that you only chat with verified users.
If you know the social media handles or name of your match, or better yet, if the two of you share some mutual friends online, try to look them up first and ensure that they are not just catfishing you wherein they use a fake social media account for creating their profile on the dating site or app.
Now that you know some tips on how to stay safe during your online dates, here are tips on how to ensure your security the moment you decide to meet your date in person.
For your first date, never meet someone you don’t know that well yet in your workplace, apartment, or house. It might make you and your date both feel more comfortable if you meet in a public place, such as a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar with many people around. Never meet in public parks or other isolated areas for your first date.
Don’t let someone know your exact address. Instead, it is best to arrange a meeting in a public area and use your own mode of transportation.
The moment your date arrives, make sure that you stay alert and aware. Never leave your drinks or food unattended and try to keep your first several dates as short as possible. You might also want to have a self-defense tool handy such as a high-powered flashlight or pepper spray.
You should also inform your friends where you will be going and when you expect to be back home. it is best to share details with your friends if ever something goes wrong.
Be sure to take a screenshot of the profile of your date then send this to a friend. Inform your friends when and where you plan to go for your date. When you decide to continue your date to a different place you didn’t plan ahead, send your friend a text message to make sure they are aware of your new location. You might also want to arrange to call or text a friend partway through your date or once you return home to check-in.
Keeping your phone online can work in two ways. It will be faster to ask for help if the need arises, and at the same time, it will also make it easier to track your location.
When the person you are meeting makes you feel scared or uncomfortable, contact a friend to help you leave the situation. Never feel bad about making your safety your priority. As long as you are safe, don’t feel guilty if you are a bit rude when escaping a situation.