How to Stay Safe When Dating Online
Online dating is a convenient way of meeting a new person. Whether swiping right on a mobile app or completing a comprehensive form on a specialist website, it’s never been easier.
There are pitfalls to be aware of. People online can hide behind their computer screens and be anybody they want.
Here are some ways to stay safe when diving into the online dating pool. Learn how to avoid being catfished, where to do research and what to prepare for a first date.
Beware of Catfishing
Unfortunately, the internet is rife with people pretending to be someone they’re not.
Catfishing is the term for people who get to know others for some form of gain by grossly misrepresenting who they are.
This type of activity is so mainstream that there’s even been a TV series about it.
It’s not uncommon for an 18 yo swimsuit model to actually be a 43 yo mother of three. Or a 25 yo handsome colleague athlete to be a 70-year-old man using his grandson’s online profile.
Warning signs to look out for are if the person seems too good to be true. Sure there are some almost-perfect people out there, but it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Video chat is an excellent way to determine if the person matches the pictures. If they’re constantly making excuses why they can’t, this could be an early indicator. A broken webcam is not a valid reason. Quality budget webcams cost less than $50.
To be doubly sure they’re who they say they are, it’s beneficial to do some online digging too.
Do Some Research
Do some online research to be absolutely sure they’re who they say they are.
Nowadays, it’s effortless to search for people online and in various ways.
Begin with a basic search engine like Google. It’ll come up quickly if they have a social media or a business profile.
If nothing comes up, that could raise some red flags. Then again, they may be a private person or just dislike the concept of social media.
An excellent way to check if an online persona is real is to do a reverse image search on any photos they’ve provided. If the pictures go to another profile, this may give reasons to be concerned.
If the person is genuine, their online information will match what they’ve said, and they can probably be considered truthful, at least on the surface.
The First Date
After some time, people who connect online may consider meeting in person. There are precautions to be taken here to be sure everything is above board.
First meetings should always be done in public. It’s never advisable to invite a relative stranger to meet at home.
Choose a location that’s well-lit and has more than one exit. In the unfortunate event of something going wrong, it helps to be able to leave quickly and cleanly.
Have a friend strategically sit nearby. All it will take is a prearranged signal to tell them whether everything is fine.
Sometimes an online connection doesn’t feel the same face-to-face. Set up a false emergency call from a friend. The conversation can go two ways; if the date is a flop, the call provides a legitimate reason to leave. However, it can be turned into a false alarm if the date can continue.
The final consideration of a first date is to not go anywhere alone with the person afterward. This is the time when things could go awry. Be absolutely sure before taking that step.
Be Prepared for the Good, or the Bad
Weeks of texting, video chats, and online checks all culminate in the first date. It’s at this time that real connections are made or not.
Set clear expectations. It’s very easy to get caught up in the emotions generated by an online relationship, and the first date will make or break it.
The good news is that 54% of Americans claim their online relationships turned into the real thing. That’s healthy odds.
Take time to get to know the other person, and be sure they’re not a catfish. Do this by researching them as much as possible online.
Be fully prepared for the first date, meet in public, and subtly involve friends. Finally, be open to the chance that things could go well or not. There are plenty of others waiting if it doesn’t work out. Keep trying.