Dating has definitely changed over the years. It is now easier than ever to meet someone new which can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with risks. This article outlines some of the most important safety tips that you should follow, and the red flags that you should watch out for when dating online.
If shoulder pads and teased hair were all the rage the last time that you went on a first date, this post is for you!
The most important thing to remember, is to use common sense and be aware of the potential dangers that come with online dating. You need to know what is safe and what isn’t when it comes to your personal information, potential first dates, and romance scams.
Note: 10% of sex offenders use dating sites.
How to stay safe when using dating apps
Here are 10 tips that will help you have a fun, enjoyable and, above all, safe dating experience:
Be honest in your bio
Do not pretend to be someone that you are not! You want to get to know a real person and so do they. Spend a little time writing your bio; who you are, what you like, and what you’re looking for. Do you really go to the gym 6 days a week? Are you really a gourmet chef, or do you burn mac & cheese?
Ask a friend or family member to read through your profile to see that it is accurate. Is that how they see you? Did you leave anything our that might be important?
Choose your best photos
Make sure that the pictures you use are recent, in focus, and avoid using filters. Your photos should be clear, honest, and show you in the best light. Share images of you smiling, in a natural setting that shows who you really are.
Do not use social media images. A quick Google reverse image search will link those images to your facebook and instagram profiles, which may include too much personal information.
Do not agree to send lingerie or bikini shots if it makes you feel uncomfortable. That can all come later, this is just the beginning stages of getting to know each other.
Be wary of suspicious profiles
Is there limited information, or only one photo that doesn’t seem to fit? Try to verify as much information as possible to make sure this person is who they say they are.
There are over 40 million online dating profiles, and one out of ten is probably fake. Unscrupulous people will create fake profiles to try to get your personal and financial information to scam you.
Video chat before meeting in person
Texting is great, but are you sure you are actually communicating with the person behind the profile? Spend time on a video chat or on ZOOM so you can see each other face to face and see how things go.
Is he totally awkward? Does he talk about his mother too much? Or worse, does he bash his ex the entire time? Does his cat keep jumping up on the computer, even though he claims that he doesn’t have one in his profile?
Meet in a public place
Everything is going great, you hit it off and now it’s time to meet. Do not assume that you “know” this person. The best way to protect yourself is to meet in a coffee shop or restaurant with plenty of other people around…just in case he is actually an axe murderer. Okay, I may have watched a few too many episodes of CSI.
It is also a good idea for the first date to be a short one. Imagine being stuck in a 3-hour museum tour with the most boring guy on the planet! A cup of coffee or a quick meal guarantees that you have an out if you need it.
Be your own driver
You do not want to find yourself stuck in a situation where you are relying on him to drive you home after your date! Not only should you not be giving out your home address at this point, but it also puts you in control of when you leave.
Tell someone where you are going and who you are meeting
I promise that I am not trying to sound totally paranoid, but you just never know. Give them the basic details like the time, place, name and phone number of the person you are meeting. Tell them the approximate time that you should be home so they can check up on you if needed.
The whole point is to get to know this person. Unless you are an alcoholic, they will not get to know the real you if you drink too much! You don’t want to make a fool of yourself, make any decisions that you will regret the next morning, or end up talking about your ex all night.
Another word of caution: NEVER take your eyes off of your drink or leave it unattended!! If you leave the table, buy a new drink when you come back.
Trust your instincts
If your date is giving off strange vibes or your Spidey senses are tingling, trust your instincts. If something feel off, it probably is. Staying safe should be your first priority. You have the right to end the date at any point, politely of course. If you feel unsafe at any point, ask for help from a waiter, bartender, or manager.
Do not respond to requests for financial help
No matter how convincing or compelling their story may be, never respond to a request to send money, especially overseas or via wire transfer. If you do get this type of request, report it to the dating app or site you are using immediately.
It is best to stick with trustworthy dating sites and apps that have safety protocols in place. It will cost you anywhere from $20 to $100 per month in membership fees, but it is worth it for your peace of mind in the long run. Statistics show, 1 in 10 users on free dating apps are scammers!
Elite Singles – for highly-educated professionals
eHarmony – for those looking for a serious relationship
Zoosk – for the social media savvy
Christian Mingle – for Christian singles
Silver Singles – for singles over 50
The League – for professionals
Jdate – for Jewish singles
Catholic Match – for catholic singles
Bumble – for woman that want to make the first move
Match – for traditional online dating
Online dating has created an entirely new way for people to meet. With a few taps and swipes, dating apps make it possible to spark relationships between people that may never crossed paths otherwise. While the ease and excitement of online dating are great, safety should always remain a top priority!