Done safely, internet dating is a convenient and efficient way to find love. But like all things on the web, it’s plagued by trolls, so you’ve got to be on your guard.
From creeps to criminals, there are plenty of nasties ruining the fun for everyone else – and they’re not always easy to spot. To avoid getting caught in their net (or worse) read our tips below. Much of it is common sense, but then again, love often blinds us, doesn’t it?
7 tips to stay safe when dating online
1. Get to know them first
If someone is desperate to meet up, spend a few days getting to know them first. Check they’re telling the truth by asking questions. Get a sense of their character by the words they use. Ask about the places and activities shown in their photos. If something sounds a bit vague or unbelievable, avoid a meeting until you’re 100% sure they’re telling the truth.
2. Meet in a public place
When you do agree to meet, do so in public. That will discourage any bad behavior and ensure there are people nearby should the date take a nasty turn. Avoid quiet pubs, parks, and restaurants.
3. Meet during the day (at first)
For your first date, meet during the day. Drink coffee or tea, not six margaritas. Daylight will keep the vampires away, while daytime beverages make sure you’re not letting your guard down too early.
4. Choose venues you’ve been to before
You’re always safer with what you know. Suggestions to meet at his or her home should ring alarm bells. Unless you know what you’re getting yourself into, pick a neutral place familiar to both of you – at the very least it means neither of you will get lost on the way there.
5. Don’t reveal personal information
You’ll want to share some details, of course, but don’t go overboard. Anyone asking for your account number or home address before they’ve met you needs a polite but firm slap in their virtual face (even if they have a plausible excuse).
With so much of our lives online, all it takes is confirming a couple of extra details and your identity is at risk. Share just enough to get to know each other, and then arrange a proper “real world” date.
6. Don’t share personal pictures or videos
Unless it’s a trusted partner or spouse, never send a revealing photo or video to someone you met online. I don’t just mean intimate shots, but also anything else you wouldn’t want to be plastered all over the internet. Once it’s up there, there’s no getting rid of it, so best keep those private images private.
7. Tell friends or family who you’re meeting and where (and stick to it)
If you’re not gossiping to friends about going on your first date, you should be. Not only will they know where you are should anything go wrong, but they can call you mid-date to check all’s well. And, if you’re bored to tears, a friendly “emergency” is an easy way out of a bad date. Be sure to update them if you switch venues, too.
Online dating is a great way to meet people when you don’t have time for pubs and clubs. But as with any kind of dating, you need mutual trust to make it work. So take it slow, enjoy the anticipation, and stay safe.