Using online dating sites in the 21st century is a gamble. You honestly never know what you’ll get. Especially with so many people sharing how their online dates didn’t go so well, it’s easy to feel intimidated just to sign up for these online dating sites.
But it’s not always bad. There have been many people who met through such sites and are still going strong today or even married. The key is safety. Being safe on online dating sites should be your priority if you think of signing up or have signed up.
So, if you are new to the world of online dating or you just want to stay safe in general, here are some useful tips to help you make sure that you are safe online:
- Remember to do a background check on them
Never hesitate to run a background check on people you’re talking to online. No, don’t feel creepy to Google their names, because it’s not. It’s one of the first steps to make sure that who you are talking to is exactly who they claim to be.
Check for their social media profiles, but sometimes, this can also be fake. If they have very few friends, no tagged photos or anything suspicious, it’s probably a fake account. To make sure, you can use Tin Eye or Google’s “search by image” to see all the places the photo they uploaded has been used. This will let you know if they are a real person or a scammer with a fake profile. If this does not convince you, some dating sites even offer a background check service to ensure your safety.
- Never share too much personal information
You meet someone online, you start talking and it’s going really well. After all, what makes online dating so appealing is its ability to convince our mind that people can be exactly who we want them to be. We haven’t met them in person yet, so we build this whole idea of them based on what they choose to display on their profile and the limited interaction we have with them.
It may be easy to fall for people you meet online, but you should always remember that they may not always be what they claim to be or who we want them to be. So, make sure you never give out any personal details like your phone number and address, especially if you haven’t met in real life. If it all goes south, these are the information they could use against you.
- Prefer people who stay close to you
It’s better and safer to prefer people who stay close to you. If you stay in the same city or same town, the sooner and easier you can meet, then the lesser the chances of them being a fraud. The only way to make sure that they are a real person with a real life is by meeting them in person.
On the other hand, if it’s long distance, they only have more reasons to delay the meeting. And this makes it so much easier for them to keep up a lie. You could also suggest using FaceTime or Skype, and if they refuse even this, there is definitely something fishy about them.
- Do not believe everything you are told
As mentioned before, it’s easy for anyone at all to create a fake profile that will make them seem like the perfect man or woman. A simple online dating rule to live by is- “Never believe anything that’s too good to be true”.
So, if all you see on your virtual date’s profile are photos of unbelievably attractive people with fancy clothes and Rolex watches or photos straight out of a photoshoot, yachts and parties in the Caribbean, chances are they’re not real at all. It’s a common strategy for scammers or just creepy people, to lure and attract people. Don’t be hesitant to ask questions if you feel that there is anything suspicious. And if they get defensive about it, they’re probably lying.
- Always take things slow
An online relationship can be risky, especially if you have not met the other person at all in real life. So, remember to take things slow. Even if you have been talking to them for a few months, it’s always better to know when to draw the line.
For example, if they’re openly declaring their love for you or if they ask for sexy pictures of you only after texting for a few weeks, be smart enough to know that no normal person would take things so quickly. Be cautious and remind yourself that as charming as they may be, you never really know who they are if you haven’t met.
- It’s better to go for a day date somewhere public
When you’ve been talking to someone online for a while, and you finally decide to meet in person, always opt to meet somewhere public, like a restaurant, café or bar, where you know for sure that there will be other people around at all times. Never accept an invitation for dinner at their place or your place for the first meeting. It’s best not to be alone with them before you really know who they are.
Also remember to meet during the day. It’s best to avoid a night date for safety measures. If they offer to pick you up from your house for your first meeting, don’t accept it. There is no need for anyone to know where you live after talking to them online just for a few days.
- Tell your friends, especially before your first meeting
Make sure you tell at least one friend about your virtual date. Firstly, it’s easy to be blinded by their charm and you might have missed something which seems really off about them. Your friends are in a better position to identify anything suspicious about them. If they have anything to be concerned about, you should listen to them.
Secondly, you HAVE to let your friends know if you are meeting them for the first time – when, where and how long you’re planning to take. Keep them updated about your whereabouts or how the date is going by texting them regularly throughout. Your safety is the most important and keeping your friends in the loop can ensure that.
- Don’t be forced to stay if you are uncomfortable
This applies to both the relationship and the date. If you feel that there is anything doubtful about the person you met online, don’t force yourself to believe otherwise. Trust your gut feeling. Never let their apparent charm or desperation compromise on your safety, especially when you haven’t met.
Also, while on the date, if you feel uncomfortable for any reason, do not hesitate to walk out. Especially if they initiate doing things you are clearly not comfortable with, like kissing or more, don’t force yourself and give in to their persuasion. You have every right to push them away and end whatever is you have going on. Same goes for them asking for sexy pictures or any other activity you are not comfortable with. Feel free to cut them off. It’s better to be safe than sorry.