Is Online Dating Safe? The Truth About Your Favorite Apps

Is online dating safe? Given the abundance of dating apps and the ease of finding people to build a relationship with (or at the very least hook up with) on them, you would think there’s some level of security when using them. Here’s the truth.

  1. Yes, if you exercise caution. Best practice in these situations as a newcomer to the scene is to always google the person ahead of time. If you have doubts, listen to your gut. That will always be the best barometer of how a situation is evolving. Don’t rush into things. I know lots of people talk about the horror stories involved with online dating and fake profiles. Keep an open dialogue and ensure that you get some sense of who this person is that you’re meeting. As long as you feel safe, that’s a good start. If in doubt, say you’re going to the bathroom and make a french exit. Oh, and never go to a third location.
  2. Tell friends where you are. These days you can just send a ping or notification from ‘Find my Friends’ to let your pals know your whereabouts. For most singles in their 20s, this is standard practice. Maybe it’s an indication of the environment we’re working in, but it’s a routine that women know like the back of their hands. It’s like having a pre-arranged ‘help’ message, or a person ready to call to rescue you with a fake emergency. These steps might sound excessive to guys, but for women, we know why we need these assurances. This isn’t an issue just with online dating but is a reflection of a culture that we all live in.
  3. Communicate honestly with your match. Whoever you match with, you can’t immediately presume that you can know their intentions, for many reasons. Some people have fake profiles, or face-tune too much, or use old pictures. It’s not common, but there are people out there who will try to trick people into meeting up with them. Mostly, it’s just to get a date that they wouldn’t otherwise get, but sometimes the reason can be more ominous than that. This is why it’s important to ask your prospective partner about their hobbies and life, in order to ensure that there’s a real person on the other end of the conversation.
  4. Be honest about your expectations. This ensures that, once you have confirmed there’s a real person on the other end of the line, you can be on the same page. This avoids wasted time and ill feelings if wires get crossed. Guys will be the first to claim that they’ve been led on or made to feel like they were getting some, only to be disappointed. Never feel like you owe someone anything by simply showing up. Your presence alone isn’t confirmation that you will sleep with someone. Stand up for yourself and know your boundaries going in. Don’t let other people confuse your priorities.
  5. Talk to other people. Online dating can cause some people to overcommit to one person that they barely know. This is why it’s important to talk to lots of people at the same time. It prevents you from overfocusing on one person and also lets you experiment with what you want and to experiment. You might think you have a certain type, only to find yourself attracted to someone unexpected. Online dating allows you to pursue these avenues in a low-risk way. Sometimes you know you like someone after the first date, sometimes you need more information.
  6. Don’t ignore red flags. This isn’t the time to throw caution to the wind when your safety is at stake. You might want, after a few glasses of wine, to swipe on everyone and get that sweet validation of matches. However, if, the next morning, you find yourself regretting the swathes of conversations that you now have to maintain, don’t carry the deadweight. If people impress and interest you, talk to them. If they don’t, let them go. There’s nothing wrong with ghosting people so you don’t waste their time at the start of talking. No one is too invested then and feelings don’t get hurt. But if you find yourself craving attention and ignoring red flags with people you’re chatting to, stop that behavior there.
  7. Don’t go alone. Well, yes, you will be physically alone, but you should always tell someone you’re going out with a new person. That safeguards your own livelihood, as well as ensures that the situation can’t escalate too far. You can have fun, of course, and send your friends a reassuring text when you’re on your merry way, and that’s a good way of communicating clearly.
  8. If no picture, no date. This is a simple rule that you shouldn’t deviate from. If they’re not putting themselves out there or being honest about who they are, there’s no reason to go any further. Do not engage. Simple as that.
Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.