Online dating safety

It is absolute madness if we think back to as little as 50 years ago. On average, people ended up marrying their partners who were as living as close as the same town, the next street or even from the same apartment building. And these marriages lasted. Now we have the option of dating people who are from the other side of the world, and we can connect to any singleton from the comfort of our own homes, on devices we can’t spend a day without.

No wonder it has become hard to settle for “The One” when our options are scoped that far and wide. Technology has really helped singletons find their next relationship. But how do you know who you are talking to? How can we tell if someone is right for us just from a picture and a small description? And how can you avoid any situation with a ‘crazy’? Follow these online dating safety tips that will help you along the way.

1. Scour their profile

The reality is this. You don’t get a lot of information about your next potential love interest from their online dating profile. You see five very carefully selected photos. Let’s not forget any of those could have been edited or taken a number of years ago when they were looking much more fresh faced. Add that to a few sentences about how they ‘love an adventure’. That can be all you have to go off. So take everything you can in about that person from what you’re given. Now, try to make a decision as to whether you and this person would get along.

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I made a little rule with myself. Anyone who hasn’t bothered or couldn’t think of anything to type while trying to sell themselves to the dating world automatically got a left swipe. No matter how pretty they looked in their photographs. Let’s face it, if you haven’t got anything interesting to say about yourself, you’re probably not all that interesting. And don’t get me started on just a list of emojis. Use your words man!

2. Social media stalk

This section may sound like you’re the crazy one. However, if you are going to meet up with effectively a complete stranger you have to be love smart. Usually dating apps only give you a first name. But there’s no harm in a quick Facebook search. Considering how small the world is, the likelihood of having mutual friends with a person living in the same area as you is high. Some profiles are linked to social media apps such as Instagram or Spotify so it doesn’t do any harm to have a quick flick through and veto your potential date. Just make sure you don’t like any posts to avoid any awkward first date chat.

These days we take the time to research something as small as “which is the best tea diffuser to buy”, so why not research into our dates?

3. Make conversation direct

Not only will this advice help you see if the person you’re talking to is a sane human being, but it will help you actually meet them in person. Research into how to use online dating effectively suggests that the less messages you send to each other, the more likely you are to meet up for an actual real life, in person date. Sounds odd I know. But if you think about it, it’s true. I’ve had a week or two of endless messages with a guy, only for the content to die and for it to eventually fizzle out.

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The actual dates I’ve been on consisted of a few messages to find out if we are on the same wave length and then a meet up. Those first few messages are crucial. If you get any bad vibes or they say things like ‘Fancy a bang?’ (yes these messages are actually sent in real life) this isn’t really a foundation for a long term relationship and you should probably politely decline (unless in fact all you’re looking for is a sex buddy… no judgement!)

4. Tell your friends

It sounds like you are being over cautious but it is really important that when you are going to meet someone new that you tell at least one person about your plans. It’s probably all fine and it’s more than likely that there’s no need but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, it gives you an excuse to meet up for a coffee date with your friend before your big date.

5. Meet in public places

Some people can seem all roses when you’re chatting to them online. Then as soon as you meet them in person, it’s a Jekyll and Hyde situation and they morph into nothing short of a weirdo. So to be date smart, meet in a place that you know well with plenty of people around.

And if they want to meet you in some dark alley at midnight… they are probably someone you don’t want to meet up with.

6. Keep your details safe

There are so many ways to keep in touch these days, and as most dating apps have the means of private messaging I suggest keeping your phone number swappage until the end of your first date. That way you still can get in contact with each other to arrange the first meet up through the app and if it goes well, you’ll know you still want to stay in contact with this person. They can be trusted to have your actual mobile number and you avoid a ‘that weird guy from Bumble won’t stop calling me’ situation.

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Most importantly, remember the vast majority of people are in the same boat as you. They are normal, sane and looking for love. Give everyone a chance, but don’t forget basic online dating safety rules and just be aware that a few people that you’ll meet online might be on the edge.

Elle works as a freelance singer, travelling the world performing on cruise ships and in hotels. Find her on Facebook or check out more about her writing on her website.

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