Safety Tips On Online Dating
When you are actively in search of a potential long-term partner, you start to consider the aspects of a relationship that are most important to you. However, if you have decided to partake in the popular culture that is online dating, the first and foremost thing you should consider is your safety. That should always be your number one priority. Research suggests that as many as 30% adults in the U.S. have used a dating service or website. Many state their experience overall had a positive outlook, but a lot of younger adults (particularly women) have reported incidents, such as harassment and/or explicit behavior when using these services and websites. It has made many people question, “Is online dating safe?” Luckily, there are a number of ways that anyone can ensure their safety, as well as the safety of the ones they meet online.
Using Popular Websites
Always make sure you stick with a trustworthy website that has a name everybody knows. Fraud is no stranger to the online dating world and has still been on the rise. By using a more reputable site, you are more capable of taking control over your privacy and protecting your information. Tip: After you finish using any online dating website, be sure to delete your profile.
Secure Your Contact Info
It can be a very simple process for someone to find you on other non-related platforms, such as career websites, to find any contact information about you. Do not provide any details or link any other profiles that may contain your contact information. This is a vital tip in the online dating world. Anybody can do a search on your name and find out a ton of information about you, like your address, birthplace, phone number, etc. Do not even give out your place of business, as this could very well lead them directly to an address where they know you will be located. If they know where you work, they will eventually know where you live.
Be A Detective
If a potential match has a social media page linked to their online dating profile, it is a great idea to check it out. You may find that they might be using images of themselves that do not match the ones you have seen. You may find traits about them that will raise concerns.
Reporting A Match
Do not be afraid to report someone who is displaying inappropriate behavior and making you feel uncomfortable. There is no excuse for this and most platforms are aware of these situations. They are prepared to handle them. You are not only protecting yourself from these potentially dangerous people, but you are also protecting others from them as well.
Before deciding to meet someone online, make sure you have had several conversations with them before you feel comfortable. It is never a good idea to meet someone you have not spoken to often beforehand. The more you talk to someone, the more comfortable you will feel when you meet them. You may decide after talking to them that they are not the match you thought. They may display red flags.
Do Not Socialize Outside Of The Platform
Again, this might limit your contact with them, but giving them your social media profile or phone number is a dangerous way for someone you don’t know to contact you in ways you may not want. Keep your conversations limited to the platform in which you met your match.
This is one of the biggest ordeals when it comes to online dating. At some point, you’re going to want to meet a potential match in person, which is relatable and understandable. However, there are a lot of ways that an in-person meeting can go downhill.
Always pick a neutral spot to meet. It is never a good idea to pick a secluded spot when you don’t know someone personally. Secluded means private and private isn’t a smart way to meet someone online. Wherever you decide to meet up should be a public spot that is also easily accessed for walking, ride-sharing services and/or public transportation.
Bring A Friend
Many people ask, “Wouldn’t this be awkward?” Yes, it is awkward, but better to be awkward and mildly uncomfortable than to risk putting yourself in a situation that could potentially be life threatening. This is also a great way to ensure you have a ride home. Never rely on your date to drive you home.
There are ways you can take part in online dating without actually meeting right away and are considered to be significantly safer options. These will all help guide you in the direction when and if you choose to meet someone face-to-face.
Video Chat First
This is a great way to get a feel for someone you enjoy connecting with online. It gives you an idea of who they might be, their personality type, etc. Video chat dates are still a great alternative to meeting face-to-face, because you still get to know them and you can still have fun without running the risk of compromising your safety. If video chat is not an option, talk on the phone several times. This is all to ensure your safety and comfort prior to meeting them.
If you decide to meet in person, please be sure to charge your phone fully beforehand. If your safety was ever at risk, you would need a way to contact someone for help.
Never leave to go meet someone online without first telling someone first. It could be a parent, a friend, coworker, etc. Let them know where you are going, what you are doing and when you intend on returning home. If something went wrong on the date and your safety was suddenly compromised, they would know immediately and report it. Keep them regularly updated, even during the date, to keep them in the loop.
Trust Your Gut
It is important to be in touch with your gut feelings. Your initial intuition about someone is usually never wrong. If you see any red flags when meeting someone, get up and leave. Never go against your instincts.
Avoid Drugs And Alcohol
This is the most important part about online dating and meeting someone face-to-face. If you are meeting someone for the first time, make sure you have a completely clear head on your shoulders and do not allow anyone to peer pressure you into something that might compromise your safety. Even having just one drink can be dangerous.
Watch Your Drinks
For non-alcoholic beverages, keep a watchful eye or a hand over the top. Never leave a drink of any kind unattended. Many potential online matches are known for using illicit substances to put a date’s physical well-being at risk. Never leave your drink out of sight. If it is out of sight for even just a second, get a new drink.
Watch For Scam Artists
For the most part, scammers are incredibly easy to spot, but sometimes, they can find other ways to be sneaky. Most scammers want money or expensive items, such as plane tickets. Many scam artists will try to give a fake sob story to obtain something they want from you. These people are extremely easy to pinpoint, but be extra suspicious of someone who you feel has any scam-like traits.
Keep Your Belongings Close
Never leave your purse unattended, as that would give your date the opportunity to go through your belongings and find information you would not want them to have, such as your address, work place, phone number and email.
When you feel uncomfortable with someone, cease all contact and communication with them and contact police immediately. Your safety and the safety of those around you should always come first. Never feel silly or responsible for being uncomfortable.
Keep Pepper Spray And/Or A Weapon On Hand
If you have pepper spray, bring it with you. Many people bring pepper spray on first dates when meeting someone online for the first time. If you do not own pepper spray, you can find it at most sporting goods stores or you can purchase it online. It might seem extreme, but remember that your safety comes first.
When meeting someone online, there are red flags you can spot that will make it easier for you to decide whether or not you should bow out of an in-person date.
If you can spot lie after lie on their profile or face-to-face, this is a huge red flag. Do not bother confronting them. Cease contact entirely.
Too Much Information
If you find a potential match online and you find yourself talking more with that person, you can decipher the difference between having similar likes and dislikes as opposed to opening up too much. If your match is opening up about more information than you are comfortable hearing, notify the website. If this happens face-to-face, bow out of the date.
Lots Of Exes
Everybody has a dating history and it can expand as we get older, but if your match has had a rather large number of partners, it is something you need to consider. Lots of partners means that things went sour in previous relationships for a reason. It isn’t a bad thing to have partners, but if he or she puts the sole blame on every ex in their past, that is a huge red flag.
If they are “love bombing” you from the beginning, it could indicate that he or she is a narcissist or contains narcissistic behavior, which can lead to emotionally abusive relationships. Your long term happiness is important, just as your safety and this includes your mental wellbeing as well as physical. Nobody should showing large amounts of romantic gestures to someone they just met and it is a red flag if they do so.
Signs Of Jealousy
Meeting someone for the first time might include conversations you are not ready to have yet. However, if you are talking to your online date about some of your history in dating and relationships, their reaction should not be jealousy. If they display signs of jealousy during your first meeting, this is a red flag.
Moving Too Fast
When you first meet someone online, you should never do anything you do not feel comfortable doing. If the date is moving too fast for your comfort zone, either say something, or leave. Remember: no means no. There is absolutely no question about this. Even if you are tempted to move quickly, you must always keep in mind that your safety is more important. This includes your physical wellbeing.
If your first time meeting a match online is rude to anyone, whether it is you or the person serving your coffee, it could be a sign that he or she is aggressive and may not be the person you want to continue dating.
If he or she is acting in a way that seems squeamish or overly awkward, bow out immediately. It could mean that your first time meeting this person might have something dangerous planned for you and you need to get out of the situation right away.
All in all, you need to consider all factors when you first meet someone online. Always be aware of your surroundings. Take note of the things your date says and the way he or she says it. It not only says a lot about their personality, but it also speaks volumes about their behavior. Many people feel guilty about leaving a first date due to the nature and/or level of comfort. Do not let anyone make you feel bad for doing what you know is right for you. Meeting someone is new, fun and exciting, but your physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing are more important and worthy of protecting than finding a long term partner.
Tip: Be aware of your own behavior. You know you are not a dangerous person, but your date may not know this and is trying to be equally as careful. You do not want to be seen as dangerous and/or threatening to your date. You are there to have a good time and get to know the other person, just as he or she is there to get to know you. Have fun, but be careful and stay safe.