It’s 2019 and online dating is simply dating. With millions of us looking for love online, it’s important to take some precautions before putting yourself out there. Luckily, there are a lot of small measures you can take to keep yourself safe while online dating.
Swipe right on using online dating apps safely by following our simple advice:
1 – On dating apps, less is more.
Err on the side of caution when it comes to sharing your personal information on dating apps, particularly what you share on your profile. If you’ve ever done any sleuthing on the Internet, you’ll know it’s very easy to find out a lot more about someone from just a few tidbits they’ve shared about themselves.
Keep your last name, address, and place of work private at the very least. If and when you do make a connection with someone, you can share this and other personal information as you feel comfortable.
2 – Spice up your photos.
Avoid using the photos your post on social media, or anywhere else online, for your dating app profiles. Similar to your personal information, it’s now easy to reverse image search a photo that can lead someone directly to your Facebook or Instagram.
This is likely more information than you’d want a stranger to have on you. Pull out your camera and snap some original photos before you make a foray into the online dating world.
3 – Use a call-forwarding service.
Rather than using your personal cell phone number, use a call forwarding service, like Google Voice, to protect your privacy if you want to move a conversation off the dating app. On the off-chance things go sideways, it’s reassuring to have kept your personal number private.
4 – Have a chat before meeting up in person.
If you’ve decided to meet up with someone you met online in the real world, go old school and give them a call before your first date. Or, you can one-up and propose a video chat.
Engaging in verbal communication with your potential date is a good way to get a feel for the person you’re meeting up with and could alert you to any weird vibes. If someone is reluctant about chatting on the phone, that’s likely a red flag.
5 – Do a bit of sleuthing.
If you’ve been talking to someone for a while or are planning to meet in person, there’s no harm in doing a little research about a potential date. Beyond the simple Google search, which can yield social media profiles and the like, try using a people finder site to get a better idea of who this person is.
Nuwber lets you search for someone by name or phone number and provide publicly-available background information about individuals. Never feel guilty about checking into someone’s background, especially before meeting them – your safety is the top priority.
6 – Meet in a public place for your first date.
Where to go on your first date? While a hike in the woods may seem like a romantic first date, it’s best to keep your first meeting in a public spot. Choose a cafe or restaurant in a well-populated area, preferably not too close to where you live.
If, for whatever reason, you want to cut a date short, it’s easier to do so in a public place. Whether your date is yelling about the last presidential election or committing an unforgivable food faux pas like putting ketchup on their pasta, know when to bounce. Having other people around, even if they’re strangers, adds another layer of safety.
7 – Keep a trusted friend in the loop.
Once you’ve made plans for your first date, spill the details to a friend who you can trust to keep an eye out for you. Let them know what you’re doing, where you’re going, and who you’re going with. Share the name, photo, and any contact information you have about your date.
8 – Skip the booze.
As most of us can attest, alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs decision making – not what you want when meeting up with a stranger.
Skip the temptation to booze by planning your first meetup during the day instead.
9 – Bring your pepper spray (if you know how to use it).
Hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where you need to use it, but carrying a pepper spray can make you feel safer, knowing you have something in case you need it. While this is a last-resort kind of option, it can be a game-changer in a dangerous situation. Bring it along only if you are comfortable carrying and using pepper spray.
10 – Never send anyone money.
If someone on a dating app asks you for money, consider that a major red flag. There is no earthly reason to send a stranger on a dating app your hard-earned money yet each year thousands and thousands of people find themselves caught up in scams where they’re doing just that. Keep yourself and your money safe by reporting these scammers and keeping your money in your wallet.
Navigating the world of online dating can be tricky, but above all it’s meant to be fun. By taking precautions in advance to stay safe online dating by protecting your personal information. If and when you choose to meet up with someone you met online, let a friend know where you’re going and meet in a public place. By taking the necessary measures you can keep yourself safe.