The popularity of online dating means that you’re likely to eventually go out with someone you’ve never met in person before. But if they start throwing up these red flags in your texting conversations, you might be risking your own safety if you decide to meet up with them.
They want to meet up in private. First dates with someone you only know through apps or texts should always take place in a populated public location like a restaurant or cafe. If the person you’re messaging is reluctant to hang out in public and keeps pressuring you to just go over to their place, it’s suspicious. While it’s true that some people just don’t enjoy public daytime dates, someone who resists it that much likely has ulterior motives with you.
They ask a ton of super personal questions. There’s nothing weird about getting to know each other digitally before meeting up in person, but there’s a line that most normal people know not to cross. Be wary of someone who wants to know your exact address before you’ve even met, and if it feels like the person you’re talking to is prying way too deep, consider it a red flag — they might be trying to get information they could later use to blackmail you if you don’t give them what they want.
They’re demanding of your time. Not everyone is good at rapid-fire replies and lots of us are just plain busy. Normal people understand that they might not get a response five seconds after messaging someone, but a person who has the potential to be dangerous might get angry if you take a while to message them back. Be cautious if the person you’re talking to consistently sends multiple texts in a row as a way to get you to respond faster. Occasional double-texting isn’t a big deal and some people are just awkward, but if the nature of the messages seems demanding or irate, abandon ship.
They get too emotionally invested too quickly. No one falls in love after one day of texting. If your potential date starts talking about marriage and babies and moving in together before you’ve even shaken hands, take it as a sign that at the very least, they’re way too clingy. However, keep in mind that if you give them a chance and actually meet them, you’re encouraging that behavior and opening yourself up to a potential stalking situation.
They insist upon picking you up. Letting a friend-turned-romantic-interest pick you up at your house for a date is one thing, but if you’re going out with someone you’ve never met in person before, it’s best to find your own way to your meeting location. Your date might insist that picking you up is the “chivalrous” thing to do, but if they get annoyed or pushy when you turn it down, it’s best to not meet up with them at all. Getting into someone else’s car puts your safety in their hands, and while a normal, safe person will understand that you’re just being cautious when deciding how to get from A to B, someone with bad intentions will see your polite refusal as a kink in their plans to get you where they want you.
They’re overtly sexual right from the start. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to be in the online dating world for more than a few hours without getting an unsolicited d*ck pic or an explicit request for sex, but as weird as these messages are, they’re not necessarily indicators that the person sending them is a violent creep. Just be aware of what these kinds of messages might mean when paired with other red flags on this list. Sometimes people are just really horny and looking for a fun, consensual hookup — other times, they feel like you owe them sex because you swiped right on them and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
They get jealous of other people. There is zero reason for someone you’ve never even hung out with to be making passive-aggressive remarks about your friends or anyone else they perceive as a threat. If your potential date is stalking your social media accounts and asking you who that guy is or if you’re banging that girl too, don’t give them the privilege of your presence. If they’re this possessive from the start, it’s only going to get worse if you two actually meet.
They keep pushing for access to more communication channels. Beware of people who constantly push your boundaries. If you’ve only been messaging each other for an hour and they’ve found and added you on every social media platform and are asking for your phone number, it’s not just that they’re really into you — they’re trying to get as much information about you as possible and make it harder for you to cut contact with them. That way, if you decide you’re not into it and stop responding to their texts, they can message you on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Snapchat. Then when you block them on every platform, they still have enough of your contact information to find you again using a different account or phone number. Stick with one method of communication until you’re reasonably sure this person isn’t going to develop a creepy obsession with you.
They’re deliberately vague about their own life. Some people are so open about their own lives that they just assume everyone else is the same way, so it’s not necessarily a bad sign if your potential date is a little too inquisitive about you. But if they’re not willing to offer up the same information, there’s something amiss. For example, if they want to know where you work but they won’t go beyond saying that they work “in retail,” it might be because they want the option of showing up at your job without you having the option of giving information about them to the police.
They have a shady past. Looking someone up online may seem like creepy behavior of your own, but you can’t be too careful anymore. If you do some poking around on the internet and find out that your online dating match was convicted of domestic violence a few years ago, cut them off. Seriously. There’s no possible way that you can’t find someone who’s just as attractive and funny and also hasn’t beaten up their partner. It’s not worth meeting up with them even once and putting your safety at risk.
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