Let’s face it, the dating world has changed dramatically within the last 10 years. Many people are turning to online dating websites and apps these days to hopefully meet their future partner or spouse. And by “many,” we are talking about over 40 million Americans currently using online dating sources.
Just because so many Americans are using this platform to find a date, doesn’t mean every person who is signed up can be trusted. In any relationship, it is important to know the red flags and dangers to help you get out or get help before suffering any kind of abuse.
In this blog, we will discuss how to keep yourself safe when meeting someone on an online dating site. Keep in mind that these are not a guarantee to keep you completely safe in every situation, but these tips will help throughout your decision-making process.
How to Connect With Others Online:
- Do not engage with suspicious profiles. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it cannot be overlooked. If the dating resource matched you with someone who has no bio, photos, and/or little information, it could be a fake account. It is best to stay away from someone you know little about. You can also block and/or report any suspicious users that try to connect with you or you feel uncomfortable with.
If you are unfamiliar with what some warning signs are, here are some common examples from RAINN.org of suspicious profiles and behaviors of scammers who try to manipulate other users in a dangerous way:
- “Asks for financial assistance in any way, often because of a sudden personal crisis
- Claims to be from the United States but are currently living, working, or traveling abroad
Claims to be recently widowed with children
- Disappears suddenly from the site then reappears under a different name
- Gives vague answers to specific questions
- Overly complimentary and romantic too early in your communication
- Pressures you to provide your phone number or talk outside the dating app or site
- Requests your home or work address under the guise of sending flowers or gifts
- Tells inconsistent or grandiose stories
- Uses disjointed language and grammar, but has a high level of education
Examples of user behavior you may want to report can include:
- Requests photographs
- Is a minor
- Sends harassing or offensive messages
- Attempts to threaten or intimidate you in any way
- Seems to have created a fake profile
- Tries to sell you products or services
This list is a great tool to help you initially determine if you should continue a conversation or not with another user.
2. Use different profile pictures from your social media. To keep yourself safe from scammers, do not use any photos you may have set as your profile picture on social media sites. When you use the same photo on your dating profile, someone can trace it back to your social media account on Google. You do not want the wrong person to be able to do that!
How to Connect in Person
If you feel like someone you have connected with has not given you any warning signs mentioned above and you are considering going on a date, here are a few suggestions on what to do before connecting with them in person.
1. Video chat first. This is one of the safest ways to see if someone really is who they say they are on their dating profile if you didn’t initially think they were suspicious. If it is a different person than the photos on their profile or if they will not turn on their camera, then you know it is not someone you should meet. But if the person matches up to their profile photo and information, multiple video chats are a great way to get to know each other deeper before meeting in person.
2. Tell someone what you are doing. If you have decided to meet someone online in person, make sure you tell a friend or someone you trust the time, place, and who you are meeting. If for some reason you need to get out of a situation, your friend is already aware of where you are and can help you quickly.
3. Drive yourself and meet in public places. When you are meeting someone for the first or even several times after, do not allow them to pick you up or drive you home. Until you have established if this is a safe relationship and if it is one you want to continue or not, it is safest to not allow someone to know where you live. Also by meeting in public places, having other people around watching will often keep you out of danger.
How We Can Help
Our team at Informed Choices is dedicated to helping you in a compassionate, safe, and non-judgmental environment. Are you worried that your relationship is going in the wrong direction or is unsafe? Whether your relationship is online or in-person, we have resources to help you learn about healthy relationships and we are here to help if you have any questions.