Tips for Staying Safe While Using Online Dating Sites & Apps
How to use online dating websites and apps safely is not clear to everyone. Although it has become a common trend, not everyone is aware of which red flags to watch out for.
Today’s technology gives us many freedoms and privileges. It gives us a whole new way of meeting new interesting people and dating on your own terms.
However, the very same technology also opens things up for shady characters. Not everyone you meet online has good intentions and you need to know how to stay safe online to be able to spot them.
The responsibility is not completely on the app or dating site that you are using. These companies may have certain security measures in place but you also have to rely on your own wits to stay out of reach from any creeps.
Just like terms and conditions, many online daters don’t bother reading the safety guidelines that dating apps and websites recommend. If you want to use online dating websites and apps safely, it is a good idea to read them through. This way you know what you can and cannot expect as security support from the platform.
Again, relying on the dating site or app’s online dating policies is not enough. So, we are listing the 10 most important rules for how to use online dating websites and apps safely, right here.
Stick to Reputable Dating Sites and Dating Apps
How to use online dating websites and apps safely starts with choosing the right platforms. The options may seem endless but the number of dating apps and dating sites that are truly trustworthy are actually limited.
Don’t think that a large number of members means that the site is legit. These can just as easily be fake accounts, single persons with multiple accounts or many inactive accounts.
Much better indicators of a reputable dating site or dating app is the profile verification process and reviews from reliable sources.
A more thorough profile verification process means that it is much more difficult for people to create fake accounts or for bots to pass the test. Look for online dating sites that require more information than just an email address.
Dating site reviews are also good sources of information on what it is really like to use that particular platform. Third party sources are much more likely to be honest than the reviews on the dating website itself.
Keep Sensitive Information Private, Everywhere
Social media urges us to share many aspects of our lives, even the most personal elements. This is dangerous because almost anything can be recovered from the internet.
Safe internet use includes protecting sensitive information such as your phone number, address, email, passwords and any information relating to your finances. This applies to all internet use, not just online dating platforms.
How to use online dating websites and apps safely also requires you to use social media and other websites safely.
Chances are that people that find your profile on a dating site do a Google search using your name and location. This can easily lead them to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts.
If you tag your location on social media or offer other information on the internet, someone might be able to track you down. So, if you want your online dating experience to remain safe, you have to act wisely on all online platforms.
Verify Their Profile Is Real
Step 2 of how to use online dating websites and apps safely is keeping your private information private. However, it is only understandable if someone checks whether a profile is legit or not.
Just as the people you meet on a dating app might Google your name, you should Google theirs. This is not to find personal information about them, this is to check whether their profile is real.
You want to make sure that the person you are talking to really is who they claim to be. Unfortunately, there are still instances of catfishing.
There is no need for digging too deep. Often, simply Googling someone’s name should be enough to find their social media profiles. If their public information lines up with what they told you on the dating app, you are probably talking to the real person.
However, if there are discrepancies something suspicious might be happening. Check if their profile is verified on the dating app. You may also want to report their account if something feels seriously wrong.
Report a Profile that Makes You Uncomfortable
A legitimate online dating site and dating app gives its users the opportunity to report an account that is displaying unwanted behavior. This is to keep a safe and comfortable environment for their users.
Stay vigilant when using a dating app and think about whether what the person is saying or sending you is appropriate. Many websites and apps will have company guidelines on nudity, sharing information and language but the most important thing is that you feel comfortable.
If a person is sending unsolicited messages, triggering photos, threatens or uses abusive language, you should block them. Blocking an account is your first line of defense.
Then, report their behavior to the web admin, preferably with proof such as screenshots. This helps you protect others on the dating site from suffering the same treatment.
Don’t Give Out Your Personal Contact Information
We already mentioned that part of how to use online dating websites and apps safely is to not share any sensitive information on the internet. Not only should you not share this kind of information publicly, you should not share it privately with someone you only know from online.
The best online dating sites and dating apps have features that let you communicate with other members without having to share personal contact information. Personal contact information includes your phone number, email address and home address.
Most dating apps have an instant chat room and most dating websites let you send and receive emails without sharing your email. Some platforms like Match and eHarmony also have features that let you call and video chat through a private number.
Such features are important because it keeps your private life safe in case the online relationship goes south.
It is recommended to not share any private contact information until after the first date. Sometimes, you don’t get a real sense of a person until you have actually met them.
Even on the date, don’t feel pressured to share your phone number, address or even social media handles. If you are not comfortable with them having this information, don’t give it to them. Leave the date if you feel pressured to share more than you are willing to.
Call and Video Chat Securely Before Meeting
Before meeting someone for the first time, we highly recommend speaking to them via secure phone number or the dating app’s own video chat option. This is another way to verify that the person you have been talking to really is who they say they are.
It is quite easy to remain anonymous when only communicating through text. Talking to someone on the phone already makes that more difficult and video calling makes it nearly impossible.
There is another advantage to speaking to the person before the date; you can recognize them more easily. This way you know who to look out for at your meeting spot.
If you have only communicated through text and the person never shows up for the date, chances are that they are hiding something about their identity. This is definitely an online dating red flag.
Meet Somewhere Public the First Time
If you are truly interested in someone, you must be excited to meet them in person. After all, that is the entire point of online dating.
Once you have gone through the safety steps of verifying their account and speaking to them either on the phone or through a video call, you can set up a real life date. The golden rule to meeting someone you found online is having the date in a public place.
Never agree to meeting someone in a secluded place and don’t let them pick you up at home. Choose a place with lots of other people and somewhere you can leave at a moment’s notice.
The best meeting spot is a place you are familiar with. This makes it easier for you to stay aware of your surroundings and find your way home safely.
Tell Someone Your Date Details
Simply meeting in a public place is not enough, though. After all, strangers are unlikely to pay attention.
Before you go on your date, make sure you tell someone that you can trust. Tell them where you are going, who you are meeting with and at what time.
Ask them to check in on you during the date and let them know how the date is going. You don’t have to go into much detail, the important thing is knowing that you are safe and comfortable.
Another crucial piece of information is knowing when you are ending the date. If you are ready to go home, let your friend know. This gives them a timeline of when you should be safe at home.
Are you going home with your date? Tell your friend this too. That way if anything happens, they know who you were last with and where.
Telling your friend all this information is not overdoing it. It is a matter of staying safe. If your date doesn’t want you sharing this information then you have a red flag. Always stay in control.
Going out for drinks is a common first date. A couple of drinks may help you relax but it is very important to stay sober.
When we are intoxicated, we become less aware of our surroundings, our own behavior and the behavior of others. You want to always stay in control on a date and drinking too much prevents you from doing so.
Don’t be afraid to tell your date that you have had enough to drink. They should not be pressuring you to drink more than you are comfortable with. If they do, that is another red flag.
Similarly, you don’t want them to get drunk either. People lose their self-control when they are drunk and you don’t want yourself or them to end up in a regrettable situation.
Plus, you may feel responsible for them if they get drunk. Although the nice thing to do is get them home, don’t go alone. The safer option is sending them home in a taxi.
Never Transfer Money
Unfortunately, how to use online dating websites and apps safely also involves watching out for scammers. The dating apps and websites that are the easiest to create a profile on might also be popular with people trying to get your money.
One way that dating sites deal with this is by setting a maximum distance for the profiles that you see. This is because many scammers tend to live overseas where it is more difficult to track them down.
Regardless of their location, you should never send money to someone that you met online, especially someone you never met in real life. That is not the foundation of a healthy relationship.
There are sugar daddy websites which do revolve around men giving financial support and gifts but this is a very niche market. Even though some people are comfortable with this type of relationship, many people misuse these platforms, too.
Whether you are new to online dating or have been using dating apps for a while, it is always a good idea to remind yourself of the red flags and safe online dating rules. Always keep a clear head on dating sites and dating apps.