Did you know that according to a 2019 study , an estimated 77% of singles admitted to going on a date with someone they met online. We sure have come a long way since online dating websites started in the 1990s.
What was once perceived as an act of desperation (“Oh you met someone on the computer?”) is now considered a far more logical and respectful approach than just randomly approaching people on the street. Now it makes sense – “Oh you met someone online because you have common interests and are very compatible!”
So yeah, online dating can actually make your life easier, as we discussed in a previous article.
While we have made a lot of progress in that respect, let’s face it – people still make a lot of foolish and sometimes dangerous mistakes when it comes to dating!
In this article, we’re going to discuss seven vital safety tips for dating online, and then consider why it’s important to remember them.
1. Do not give out any personal information to someone you just met.
You might be surprised at how often this happens. Hey, you want to be internet famous! So why not post your real name, my hometown, and some cool Tik Tok videos? How about because it’s ridiculously easy to find a person’s address, phone number, and even a Google Maps picture of their home?
With so many people finding websites up and running – many of which provide free listings – it’s actually a bigger challenge to stay off the grid these days.
2. Do not use any photos that can be traced back to other web pages.
Did you know that using your “favorite photo” on a dating site can be reverse image searched to find your name, blog, social media accounts, and other personal information that you don’t consider public knowledge?
True, you should use high-quality photos. However, using your “favorite photo” that you also use on a social account, or any other commercial or personal website could leave you vulnerable to stalking.
3. Research your potential date online.
Speaking of “stalking”, yes it is 100% OK to research your date online before you agree to meet in person. And if it feels weird, ask your date for their social media profile and for permission to look them up.
Some people will even ask for a background check on a potential date before agreeing to anything and it’s not a bad idea. What if you are a single parent? You’re not just qualifying dates for your own safety, but also for your family members.
4. Video chat before you meet anyone in person.
Want an easy way to catch a catfish? Go for the video chat as soon as the flirting gets serious. While it’s easy to catfish a person with text and even photos, it’s hard to fake a video chat.
This not only eliminates time-wasters, but could also protect you against scam artists and psychos who have been known to pull the old “switcheroo” photo trick.
Does video chat during the first or second conversation seem a little awkward? There’s a video dating guide for that, you know.
5. Block suspicious people with fake or vague profiles.
You don’t owe anyone an explanation on why you reject them – not on social media and especially on dating sites. You also have the right to block any user that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Remember to also vet potential dates according to their profile. Empty profiles, suspicious profiles, or vague profiles that seem, well, “Fake”, usually are.
Free online dating sites are a lot of fun but there is always the problem of fake profiles. But by using a review site, like DatingAdvice’s selection, you can avoid the worst hangouts and spend more time on the most trusted dating sites.
6. When meeting in person for the first time, always stick to public places.
Once you finally decide to meet in person, and your date passes all previously mentioned tests, then that shouldn’t mean it’s time to relax. Remember, a scammer or a psycho may try to build trust early on just to get you alone.
Do not meet a person alone for a first date! Don’t do Netflix and chill. Don’t hook up unless you have a chance to meet them in person and check for any concerning signs.
Choose a public place, like a bar, fast food restaurant, coffee shop, or a club. Ask them some basic questions, just to see if they answer honestly or start making stuff up. Run like the wind if you sense they’re lying about something.
7. Tell a friend where you’re going – or bring a friend.
While it’s ideal to bring a friend along, it’s not always a very romantic move, is it? So the best way to handle it is to tell a friend where you’re going and what your date’s name is and where their profile picture is located. This way you have someone watching your back and making sure you get home OK.
And don’t think we’re being paranoid. Every state has its share of dating crimes, and we’re looking at you, Nevada and California.
You can even enlist some “professionals” (like bartenders, waiters, etc.) to keep watch for you.
Arrive early, be friendly, and let some staff members know that you’re on a date tonight and may need their assistance if things get weird.
If you feel uncomfortable you can send the waiter a sign or a gesture, letting them know you want to end the date as soon as possible.
Remember Your Safety
In closing, remember that someone who’s interested in you romantically or even casually would have no problem waiting until you’re comfortable. There’s no reason to take a chance. Swiping right is surprisingly easy, so swipe as many times as you’d like but always exercise caution on an IRL date.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay