Safety Tips for Online Dating

Technology is a beautiful thing, helping people in just about every aspect of life. From work to home life, technology has made things smoother, faster, easier, and more convenient. And when it comes to finding love, there’s no exception as technology has stepped in to offer a hand in the form of online dating.

Over the past 20 years online dating has morphed from a new tool that people were often wary of using, to one of the most common ways to meet a potential love connection. Even if you are still visiting all the traditional spots to meet someone in person, there’s a good chance you also have an active online dating profile.

But before you get too caught up in the online dating experience, there are some safety tips that experts like to stress. These ensure that the romance is still there while ensuring personal safety. The fact is that you can never be too careful and it’s always wise to proceed with a little caution when chatting and meeting strangers.

Keep Your Personal Contact Information Private

Woman creating account on dating site via laptop
Image Credit: Shutterstock / New Africa

It’s easy to feel like you should share everything about yourself when meeting someone that you hit it off with, but it’s wise to hold back some details. Experts always warn against sharing your contact information with people that you’re chatting online with or on your profile page. This means details like your address, your phone number, and even your full name. It’s not about hiding information, it’s about keeping details private until trust has been built.

A good tip is to create a separate email address that can be used with your online dating profile. You can then give people that email address as an easy way to contact you off the dating sites and apps, while not sharing your regular email address.

Chat Online for A While – Get to Know a Person First

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Rushing into a relationship isn’t usually a smart idea, and online dating is no different. Meeting in person too fast can put your safety at risk so it’s wise to talk for a while and get to know the person. You never want to meet until you feel 100% comfortable. You also shouldn’t feel pressured to set up a date, there is no rush.

It’s Okay To Do a Little Research

Facebook search page under magnifying glass.
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The word “research” doesn’t exactly seem romantic, but think of it as getting to know the person better. If the person you’re chatting to is active on social media it’s a good idea to check out their feeds. It doesn’t mean you need to comment on everything, just a “quiet search” is all that’s needed. It’s a great way to ensure the person is who they say they are in terms of likes, activities, friends, and so forth.

There’s a good chance the person is doing the same with you and checking out your social media anonymously, it’s just what people do as they get to know someone.

Ask Lots of Questions – Get to Know Them Well

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ekateryna Zubal

This leads to the next tip, which is taking the time to ask lots of questions. Getting to know someone should take time and effort, there’s no need to feel rushed or as though there is a timeline you need to follow. Even how they answer the questions can tell you about them.

If they open up easily, answering questions without any hesitation, it can show they are being honest with you. Refusing to answer questions, or lying are obvious red flags.

Chat While Keeping Your Phone Number Private

Person getting a call on phone from an unknown number
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds

Chatting online is a great first step in getting to know someone, but at some point, you may want to talk on the phone. That’s a big step in that you’ll need to give out your phone number, or do you? Did you know there are apps that you can download to your smartphone that allow you to make phone calls while keeping your number private?

The way these apps work is that you will be given a unique phone number that you can give to the person to use. You can continue to keep your real phone number private until you are ready to give it out.

Choose Somewhere Public for Your First Date

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

Once you’re ready for the all-important first in-person date there are several safety tips to follow. The first and arguably the most important is to pick a public place for your first date. Ideally, it’s a place with plenty of people so that you are never at risk and never alone with your date.

Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean the romance won’t bloom as there are many great public places for a first date. Some examples include:

  • Restaurant
  • Dessert bar
  • Coffee shop or lounge
  • Movie theater
  • Park for a picnic (for a day date)
  • Museum
  • Science Center

As well, the date shouldn’t end with the two of you going back to your place or theirs, keep it public at least for the first date.

Share Your Date Plans with a Friend or Family Member

Girl shows colleague information on laptop screen.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Foxy burrow

Before heading out for your date, be sure to share the details with a trusted friend or family member. Let them know where you are going, the time, and the person’s name. This ensures someone knows where you are supposed to be.

Some people even prefer to share their details through an app on their phone that tracks their location. For example, Find My Friends will allow your friend or family member to check where you are. You’ll want to be sure your phone is fully charged before your date begins too.

Meet at the Location – Have Your Own Transportation Method

Portrait of happy female driver steering car with safety belt
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dragana Gordic

When a date picks you up for the evening it sounds very romantic, but that’s not advisable for the first meeting. Experts suggest you meet there, ensuring you have your own mode of transportation. That could be your car, a friend dropping you off and picking you up, an Uber, or anything else. Arriving separately is just good common sense for a first date.

Stay Sober and Stay Alert

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / baranq

Having a drink or two may not seem like a big deal on a date, but it’s not always the safest choice. Alcohol can start to impair your judgement. You want to be clearheaded at all times, this is still a stranger that you are meeting.

Leave If You Feel Uncomfortable

A woman refuses a kiss from an aggressive date.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / MDV Edwards

What if there are red flags? What if you feel uncomfortable? What if they aren’t the person they made themselves out to be? These are all questions that may be circling through your mind before your date. It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious before a first date, but if these fears prove true – then you should look after your safety and well-being and leave.

Let them know it’s not working out, you feel uncomfortable, or that you can’t stay for long and then make your exit. Don’t feel guilted into or obligated to stay until the end of the date. If your gut tells you something is off, you need to trust it.

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