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10 Tips for Staying Safe When Online Dating

Keep yourself out of danger when dating online!

As online dating continues to evolve and grow, more people are venturing onto dating sites than ever before.  Sites like Match.com, Tinder, and eHarmony make it easy to find people who match your interests and find a date.  According to Match.com, over 53% of singles have created online dating profiles.

While online dating is convenient, it’s not without its perils.  Since it’s easy for people to create fake profiles and misrepresent themselves online, it’s important to stay safe when meeting up in person.  To help you embark on your search for the perfect match, check out the following tips for staying safe when online dating.

Don’t give out your phone number.

The Google Voice app offers the opportunity to take calls, receive voicemails, and send messages without giving people your real phone number.  If you come across anyone sketchy, you can block their access.  Meanwhile, your number is secure and only available to people you know in real life.

Have a video chat before meeting in person.

Use technology to help you by dating remotely first.  There’s plenty of options available between FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, or Facebook.  A video chat will let you get a glimpse of the person before you meet and could help reduce your risk of being catfished by someone who isn’t who they claim to be.

Chat over the phone.

If video chats aren’t your thing, try reaching out by phone ahead of time.  Since phone calls are less formal than video calls, they can allow you to pick up on subtle cues that might otherwise be hidden.  It’ll also give you a chance to feel out whether you have a good conversation with this person.

Meet in a public place

When it comes time to go on an in-person date, keep the first few in public places with many other people around.  Restaurants, skating rinks, bowling alleys, or coffee shops typically have a good crowd of people in them.  There’s a significantly lower risk of something going wrong, and if you need help, there are people available.

Meeting publicly also provides you with the opportunity to have a friend or family member “tag-along” on your date unnoticed in case you get uncomfortable.  If you meet at a bar or a restaurant, many have built-in codes for you to let the waitress or bartender know you need assistance.

Drive yourself or use public transportation.

When meeting someone in-person for the first time, don’t let them pick you up.  A) This will tell them where you live.  B)You don’t have a way out if you need it.  C)It gives your date control over where they take you.  Having your own way home is key to making sure you can leave when you want and stay in a place where you feel comfortable.

Do your homework.

Before your date, run a background check.  You don’t have to become a stalker; just double check that the person you are meeting is who they say they are beyond their online dating and Facebook profile.  It can also help you weed out anyone with a criminal background or who is already married so you can run for the hills.

Tell someone else the details of your date.

Before you leave, make sure someone knows who you’re meeting, where you’re going, and when you expect to be home.  Stay in touch via text message to let them know whether the date is going well or not.  You’ll also be more relaxed knowing someone is keeping track of your whereabouts and ensuring you get home safely.

Avoid giving out too much personal information.

For your first few dates, don’t give anyone too much information.  For example, it’s okay to say you spend your spare time painting, but don’t tell them you go to the local art gallery every Tuesday for lessons.  Generalized information is always better than specifics when giving information like a birthday (I was born in December, not December 12) or locations (I live on the east side of the city, rather than on 100th St.)

Protect Yourself

Carry pepper spray.  Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.  If something goes terribly wrong, it might save your butt.

Stay sober.

If you’ve done all your homework, are confident your date is who they say, meet in public, and phone a friend, the next best thing you can do to keep yourself safe is to stay sober on your date.

Drinking too much can lead to poor decision-making and poor judgment.  You’ll also be less in tune with subtle cues that something might be wrong.

Dating safety is for everyone

It’s common to think of online dating safety as a priority for women, but it’s important for men too.  In the United States, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience violence in an intimate relationship.

Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you stay safe in your online dating journey.

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