Online dating could be really fun and is a great way to meet someone if you’re too busy to get out there and find love. After all, with 40 million Americans of all ages using dating sites, it’s become the new era of matchmaking. So, if you’re planning to get on board, here are 5 tips to navigate your way safely with your digital love quest.
Pick the right dating app
The app you select could be an important deciding factor for ensuring your safety. While there are several popular apps out there, they all have different setups and processes for signing up and meeting people. So, comparing these is essential before you rush in with the first app recommendation you’ve received.
For example, pick a dating app that has a lengthy signing up process with lots of verifications. This makes it more difficult to create a profile. Therefore, it’s often the ones who are serious about finding love that would make the effort. And a cumbersome verification process could help discourage and filter out fake accounts. Avoid apps that allow users to search for others. And stick to those that prevent access to other profiles unless both users have shown interest.
Guard your personal data
As with everything else these days, dating apps will also prompt you to sign up using your email address and to connect your social media accounts. And this is a sure way to expose an unnecessary amount of your personal data to the dating site, and potentially to everyone else using it.
The problem is, while these sites are using personal data to help with the matching process, they often share them with third-parties as well. So, you will never know how far your data can travel once you share them with dating apps.
So, always keep a secondary email address to sign up for these sites. And avoid sharing information that could help identify you or link to your social media accounts. These can include your full name, contact number, and your address. Also, make sure you check their privacy and data sharing policies to understand how they handle your personal information.
Dig a bit deeper
When you meet someone you like on a dating site, tread with caution until you get to know them better. So, first thing’s first. Don’t shy away from doing some background checks. In a digitally hyperconnected world, it’s no longer intrusive. So, dig in and see what you can uncover.
A Google search could help easily pull out data from free online sources like social media, websites, and digital press releases. A Facebook search can get you some great insights into their personal interests and social activities. And if you’re feeling like digging even deeper, Nuwber could pull out a whole heap of information including where they live, marital status, work history, financial information, and even police records and much more. And the best part is that all these search tools are completely confidential and will protect your identity.
While you are smitten by charming good looks, it also helps to be alert. There are many smooth-talkers out there, not to mention crooks, pervs, and stalkers. And it’s increasingly difficult to pick them out from the rest, especially without any real one-on-one interaction.
So, it pays to be extra cautious during conversations even if you’re still at the messaging stage. Keep an eye out for anything out of place, contradicting information, or inconsistencies in what they tell you. Lying, after all, is hard work, so they are bound to trip once in a while.
Watch out for signs of anything peculiar or suspicious. For instance, do they avoid discussing certain topics, share very little about themselves, ask a lot of personal questions from you, or seem to be in a hurry to meet up? These are all telltale signs that should raise the alarm.
Share with care
While it’s important to get to know each other before deciding the next move, it’s equally essential to practice caution when sharing personal details. Sharing excessive information in haste is a common mistake that you might regret later on.
Until you’re both comfortable with each other, it makes perfect sense to be a bit guarded. Avoid sharing personal details such as where you live or work and information about your family and friends. Use a burner phone, so you don’t need to provide your personal phone number. Avoid connecting with them on social media and keep all communications within the dating app where possible.
Another thing to remember is that the search tools you used for background checks are freely available to just about everyone else. And it’s highly likely that your potential date will use them as well to check on you. So, be prepared for this. Try running a background check of yourself and see what turns up. And the best way to avoid leaving too much personal information around for anyone to uncover is to share with caution. So, the next time you want to post a photo while on vacation, you might want to think twice about it. And also ensure that the privacy settings on your social media and other profiles are properly set up so that Google doesn’t go crawling for unnecessary information.
The bottom line is that practicing caution will never go wasted. After all, don’t forget that you’re dealing with a total stranger, no matter how attractive they are and how good they make you feel. And when it comes to meeting up, remain equally alert. Keep your best friend or a family member informed about who you’re meeting, when, and where.
Give some thought to where you would like to meet and avoid secluded places. Select a public location for the first date so that there are plenty of people around for your safety. Stick to general topics during the conversation and avoid giving out too many personal details.
And if things begin to get uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to call it a night. Remember, you are in charge, and your safety should never be compromised.
So, good luck and stay safe!