Online dating no longer carries a stigma, it’s still important to be vigilant when communicating and meeting with people you connected with online. Regardless of how much you chat online before your initial meet-up you have to remember that this person is still a stranger, the same as meeting someone at the bar, and as such you need to take precautions when you start dating. Remember, Ted Bundy was charming and handsome. You obviously want to stay safe when online dating but you also want ensure that you’ll be meeting quality and genuine people, so with no further ado, here is Single in the City’s guide to online dating safety:
Online Dating Safety Red Flags:
The first place to look for red flags is in the profile itself; if there are lots spelling errors or bad grammar that could be a sign of catfishing, probably people trying to get money, similar those Nigerian Prince emails. People who are honestly looking for a relationship online will want to put their best foot forward and tend to double check their profile
While on the subject of money, never give money to someone you’re talking to online, regardless of the story they tell you or how much they’re asking for. It could start with $50 because ‘their wallet got stolen’ and quickly escalate to the thousands. If someone online is asking for money it’s not enough to say no, stop talking to them and report them to the site you’re on, you can help save someone else from their scheme and promote online dating safety.
A general rule of thumb for online dating is if they sound to good to be true than they probably are, and I’m not necessarily talking about people lying on their profiles (although always be weary and keep online dating safety in mind). Let’s say there’s a super attractive, fit, doctor with the cutest golden retriever and a summer house in the Florida Keys. That person sounds absolutely amazing, so chances are there’s a reason they’re online and not already spoken for. Maybe they hold the people they date to impossible standards and as such never have a long term relationship, or their work keeps them constantly busy so they don’t have time for a relationship or visits to their fabulous summer home, or they’re commitmentphobic. Consider all the possibilities when you come across an amazing profile and look out for signs in your early conversations of potential issues.
Look out for inconsistences in profiles and in the messages people send you, for example someone is not going to be 6 feet and 120 pounds. Also avoid people that only have 1 picture or no pictures, regardless of why they say that is. Unfortunately online dating is heavily dependent on pictures so if people give the excuse of ‘privacy’ don’t accept it, if they we’re that concerned with privacy they wouldn’t be online dating in the first place. One way you can tell if a person’s online photos are legit is to preform a Google reverse image search; by doing this you can see if the pictures have been posted anywhere else and by whom, the best way to practice online dating safety is to be diligent about photos.
Quick Tip: if you’re looking for a relationship rather than a hook up avoid profiles that have naked/ shirtless pictures.
As a general rule you should avoid profiles where people don’t talk much about themselves, it’s a sign they aren’t serious about the process and aren’t willing to put in the effort. The same goes for people who send very short messages, they’re trying to get to the end, not taking the time to find a partner.
How to Avoid Catfishing When Online Dating:
Avoid people that don’t want to meet up in person, if you’ve been chatting with someone and they keep making up excuses for not meeting with you than something is wrong! If it’s just one rescheduled date than you probably have nothing to worry about but if they don’t seem eager to meet up than that could be a sign they aren’t who they say they are.
Be weary of people that live far away, especially from other countries, people looking for serious relationships aren’t going to be messaging you from very far away. If you’ve ever seen the show 90 day fiancé than you know how terribly wrong these types of relationships can go. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule however in my option it isn’t worth the risk. Online dating safety is just as much about protecting your finances and emotional well being as it is physical safety.
If the person you’re talking to refuses to video chat or snap chat with you they’re probably catfishing you. If you met online than they obviously have internet access and know how to work a computer so if you’ve asked them to Skype with you and they say no than something is up.
Catfishing relationships have a tendency to escalate quickly, if you feel the relationship is getting too serious too soon, especially before meeting, than that could be a sign someone is attempting to get information or money from you. Along the same lines; avoid giving out your last name and using an email with your last name, it makes it easier to find out sensitive information about yourself.
Safety When Meeting Someone You Met Online Dating For The First Time:
Don’t give anyone the exact location of your house or work until you’ve met in person at least a few times. All you need is a weirdo showing up at your work after you didn’t reply to their messages for a full day, even if they’re harmless as the very least it’s embarrassing.
Meet in crowded places; for your first few dates it’s best to meet some where in public at a reasonable time, this rule isn’t just for online dating safety, it goes for any date with a stranger. Definitely don’t go to a stranger’s house! You should also take your own transportation to and from your date so that you have control over when you leave and you’re not in an enclosed area with a stranger. This will also prevent them from learning where you live.
Is Online Dating Worth It?
I know this whole guide has been one big long “Don’t Trust Strangers” manifesto and you may be wondering; “Laura, after all this do you really think it’s a good idea to be online dating?!” my answer is an overwhelming YES! Don’t let the possibility of a few creeps hold you back from online dating, there is just as much of a possibility of you meeting bad people at a bar or at work as there is to meeting them online. If you follow the tips I’ve provided you with than online dating can be a fun and rewarding experience. So many people have met their soul mates online and they may not have found each other if it weren’t for online dating.