You’ve found a match! Online dating keeps on evolving and changing the way we date. Over the past few years, we’ve seen sites like Plenty of Fish, Match.com, and eHarmony take over the online dating scene. Now, we have tons of other apps like Hinge, Tinder, and Bumble that are helping singles find dates faster and easier than ever before.
Online dating is such a trend that over 53% have joined an online dating site and created a profile according to data from Match.com. However, one of the realities of online dating is that you’re dealing with people you don’t know very well, so it’s essential to always stay safe.
If you want to find your new flame online while staying safe at all times, here are some helpful tips you should follow.
Use a Trusted Platform
The first thing you have to do is make sure that you pick the platform carefully. Some platforms, for instance, will do very little when it comes to verifying who is on the site.
You want to go with a site that takes things like spamming and catfishing very seriously. In most cases, these will be paid sites, as free sites allow access to pretty much anybody. So, if you’re truly serious about dating online, we suggest you go with a real platform that will filter the undesirable for you.
Platforms like eHarmony, for instance, have a great reputation for making sure that all their profiles are authentic. That means no time wasters, and specifically, no risk taken from dealing with someone who isn’t who they say they are.
Related: Read my recommendations for the best daying apps right now!
Double and Triple Check Dates
If you see someone online, it’s important to gauge whether you can trust them or not. You can do that through conversation, but you can never really tell who someone is until you do your homework. This means that you should do everything you can to verify that person’s identity and if there might be any blemishes in their past.
The first thing you can do is run a simple Google search on them. But, if you really want to take things up a notch, we suggest you try a background check service like Truthfinder. It will allow you to check if the person has any criminal past and help you find out if they have a history of violence, sex crimes, or fraud/identity theft.
Related: Read my review of Truthfinder
Don’t Give Out Too Much Personal Information
No matter how amazing a date appears to be, never give away too much personal information. This person might not be who they claim to be, and they could use details such as the names of your kids or your birthday to steal your identity, or worse. Wait until you get to know someone better before you share this stuff.
Talk on the Phone
Instant messaging is great for establishing a rapport, but it’s really hard to get a true sense of an individual without actually talking to them. There are many people who are very witty and articulate on-screen but tongue-tied over the phone. Whilst you might really like this person, a date with them would be a nightmare of social awkwardness. In addition, chatting on the phone means the other person has to answer immediately, rather than disappear while they devise a suitable answer. Watch out for verbal clues, such as a strange accent or weird background noises you wouldn’t expect from where they say they live, e.g., if they claim to live in an NYC penthouse apartment but you can hear cattle mooing in the background, something doesn’t quite add up…
Use Video Chat
Video chat is a useful way to verify you are talking to someone who is what they claim to be – i.e., not 30 years older or a different gender. Catfishing is a thing these days, and if someone is reluctant to talk via Facetime or Skype, be suspicious of their motives for talking to you.
Have Control Over Transportation
This is probably one of the most important things. Make sure that you either drive yourself there or take public transit. Do not accept carpooling offers as they'll know where you live and will be able to have control over where you go. Using your own car will reduce the chances that you get yourself into an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.
Always Meet in a Public Place
Never arrange to meet a date at their home or yours until you feel comfortable with them. Don’t agree to meet anyone in an isolated location, such as a local beauty spot, even if they promise you a romantic sunset picnic.
Meeting in a bar or restaurant or even a busy park in the daytime gives you an opportunity to leave if you feel uncomfortable in any way. You can also arrange for a friend or relative to be nearby to keep an eye on you, just in case you need backup.
Tell a Friend
Always tell a friend or loved one who you are meeting, where you are meeting them, and any other pertinent information. Let this person know what time you expect to be home. Arrange to send a text at a set time, so your friend knows you are safe and having fun. It’s also useful to ask a friend to call you at a pre-arranged time, so you can make an excuse to leave if necessary.
Don’t drink Too Much
Alcohol is a great social lubricant and a useful way to ease pre-date nerves, but getting horribly drunk puts you in grave danger. Stick to one glass of wine or a beer when you first start dating someone. They are probably not a rapist or serial killer, but why take that chance? Keep your personal safety in mind at all times, and remember, it’s a lot easier to escape a bad date when you are stone-cold sober than dead drunk.
Keep Pepper Spray in Your Purse
Most dates are uneventful, boring even, but occasionally a date can go badly wrong, whether it’s because the person was pushy, unwilling to take “no” for an answer, or just plain obnoxious. It’s sensible to carry a can of pepper spray on dates. Use it if the person won’t back off, or you feel your personal safety is in peril. Just make sure you know how to use the spray!
These are only some of the safety rules you should follow when meeting anyone online. Make sure that you put safety first on your quest to that “special someone”.