It doesn’t look like online dating is going anywhere.
This is often the time of year when people start to think about online dating. Some do this because they think the start of a new year is the perfect time to start a new relationship. Others because they realize that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Others decide that it’s a great time to create a new online dating profile because they hated being single during the holidays.
Whether you’re an online dating veteran or you’re just dipping your toe into the world of online dating, it’s always a good time to review safe online dating practices.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t really have any idea about who you’re talking to. Online dating is a great way to meet people, but it’s also a format that attracts a lot of predators. Choose a dating site that is upfront about its policy for keeping everyone involved safe.
If you make a match, take some time to get to know the person online before you arrange an in-person meeting. Whenever possible try to keep the conversation going through whatever means the online dating site has provided. This makes it easier to report any abuse or suspicious behavior.
Do not meet in a private or secluded area. Arrange to meet in a public place. Before going on your first date, let people know where you are going, who you are going with, and arrange for a time that you’ll check in with them and let them know that you’re okay.
Do not tell the person you’ve connected with online where you live. Make sure you eliminate any geographically identifiable items (such as your house) from the pictures you post on your profile.
If you start to feel at all uncomfortable with the other person, be it while you’re chatting on the dating site or while you’re on a real-time date with your online match, sever the connection and move on. Your safety and mental health are far more important than the few minutes of embarrassment you’ll feel while dashing away from the date.
Do not invite your online love connection to your home until you’re one hundred percent positive that they’re a good person and someone you can trust. If you have any reservations at all, keep the dates to public places. The same is true about getting into a car with them. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving or they’re driving, always travel in separate vehicles until you are confident about who you are with.
The most important thing to remember when you’re dating online is to trust your instincts. You really do know best so if something feels a little funny or unsafe it’s in your best interest to block that person and search for the next promising candidate.