These days, the words “dating” and “online” are practically synonymous. More than ever, people are joining dating sites and entering their hopes, wishes, and personal information in hopes of meeting a match. But because not everyone behind the computer screen has good intentions, online dating can also be dangerous. If you are considering looking for a soulmate, partner, or even casual fling online, there are ways you can be safer. For more information on how to date strangers from the internet safely, read on.
Don’t give out personal information.
Avoiding scammers or people out to take advantage of you is the first step in dating safely online. The first way to hook a scammer is to be that person who offers all their personal information upon the first conversation. The first way to spot one is if they ask for it, too. A red flag in online dating is anyone who gives out too much personal information. While you may be new, others are not and there are many people on online dating sites waiting to scam you.
The best way to think about this is the same way you’d declutter your home. When joining an online dating site, look for warning signs before you respond to any winks or inbound messages. Review people’s profiles with an eye for red flags like phone numbers, or asking you for the ability to host. Both could mean something’s off. The same way you’d pile up stuff you don’t want in your house, block or avoid these profiles before moving on. Also, beware of profiles without pictures as this is often a telltale sign of a fake profile. Think of your block and spam files as no different than the trash bags you’d use to collect the junk in your house.
Oversharing of personal information is something to think about when you meet in person too. On a first date, or when arranging it, don’t give out your address or even last name. Instead, agree to meet in a public place. Avoid details like your workplace or anything that would help your date find you off the dating site.
Meet in a public place.
When setting your date, it’s okay to get real-life phone numbers. An unknown number calling you is a major red flag. If the person on the other end of the line is coming in as a spam caller, cancel the date. If you are talking on the phone ahead of time, research on how to find out what number called you, too. This is an effective way to know whether or not you’re dealing with a false identity and will go a long way in protecting you. A real person with a sincere motive would call from a traditional cell phone line and would not pressure you for personal information or to meet in private.
Tell friends and family where you’ll be.
Before you meet, make sure your friends and family know where you’ll be, how to reach you, and for how long you’ll be gone. Check-in with them in the bathroom and if your intuition is giving you telltale signs that you’re being catfished, don’t be afraid to ask someone to meet you to walk you back to your car or home. You don’t owe your date answers but you owe yourself safe from potential violence or even fraud.
Research your date ahead of time.
It’s okay to do your research ahead of time. If your date has given your their name or number, it’s alright to look them up online. Social media has made this easy. Profiles with friends and family are likely legitimate and will give you confidence before your real-life meeting. The opposite is true too. If a stranger is giving you information that doesn’t add up off of Tinder, you might want to rethink your plan to meet with them in person.
In all reality, dating a stranger can never be one hundred percent safe. But by saving details like your address and last name for later, meeting in public, keeping your real-life friends and family up to date, and doing your homework, you can reduce your risk of running into trouble. Always keep your phone on you and never feel bad about leaving if things feel off or uncomfortable. Soon enough, that stranger might just turn out to be a soulmate. Happy and safe dating to you!