Swipe Right Safely
Online Dating Tips
If you’ve been considering online dating you’re not alone., An estimated 4.5 million Australians turn to online dating to find romance each year. Whilst it may come with the potential of love, can be risks involved so it’s necessary to take precautions with your online dating profile and approach. Whilst we can’t control, and are not responsible for how other people behave, there are many things you can do to help protect yourself when looking for love online.
Here are our top tips before you get started:
1. Google yourself. It’s important to know what a stranger may be able to find out about you with just your name and profile picture.
2. Audit your privacy settings Go through your social media accounts and increase your privacy settings so identifying details aren’t available to strangers, including your school or workplace.
3. Be selective in your selection of dating platform. Once you’ve cleaned up your online profile, take some time to find the dating service that suits you best. There’s a myriad of options out there, catering to every niche of society so you can get as specific as you like.
To minimise the unwanted and disrespectful messages, try opting for a service that requires both parties to indicate interest in each other before contact can be made.
4. Don’t get too personal Avoid putting too many personal details in your dating profile, such as your full name, social media handles or workplace. A potential date doesn’t need these details until after you’ve met and gotten comfortable with each other.
5. Look for clues. Make sure your profile picture doesn’t give too many clues about you, like showing school or sports team uniform. If somebody has this information, it isn’t hard to work out where you will be a specific time of day. Also, choose a different photo from your social media profile picture, to lessen the chance of a stranger connecting the two. Some sites allow you to use a social media profile to set up your account, which sounds convenient but isn’t recommended for safety.
Ready to mingle?
You’ve found a potential date and you are ready to start the process, here’s what next:
1. Don’t be in a rush to give out your number.
Until you’ve met and feel at ease with them, it can be a good idea to use the messaging options available on your dating service to chat, so you can avoid giving them your phone number.
2. Try Video chats.
Video chats are a great way to get to know someone before meeting them in person as it gives you a chance to check if they really are who they have presented themselves as and see if you have that little spark of chemistry together.
3. Meet in public.
It might sound obvious, but it’s worth stating. When choosing a location, it is absolutely essential that you meet somewhere public, surrounded by people. Choose a place you don’t frequent to avoid awkward run-ins later if it doesn’t work out. In fact, choosing a café on the other side of town is well worth the effort for the first meet up.
4. Drive yourself or take public transport.
Even if your date offers, do not allow them to pick you up from home or drop you off afterwards, as you want to keep your home address private for now.
5. Ensure your phone is fully charged before going out.
Most mobile phones have an Emergency SOS option you can set up with your preferred contacts. Once triggered, it will send a front and rear screen photo, a google map location and a ten-second audio clip to your emergency contact. Google your phone model and Emergency SOS to find out how to use this feature.
6. Tell at least one friend know where you are going and give them a link to your date’s online profile.
Ask them to call or text to check in on you at a set time. This doubles as an opportunity to excuse yourself from the date if it isn’t going well. Sure, your date will see right through this, but that is okay. Don’t stay on an awkward date just to be polite.
There are even safety dating apps specially designed for first dates. You logged the details of the date and it automates your check-ins and will contact emergency services if you miss one.
7. Limit your alcohol intake.
The first meet up isn’t the time for cocktails. Whilst you are never responsible for other people’s predatory behaviour, it makes sense to limit your alcohol intake on the first date so you can stay alert. Don’t leave your drink or food unattended, even just to go to the bathroom. It may sound paranoid, but don’t allow your date to go to the bar to order drinks. Go with them or only accept drinks the waitstaff bring you. Drink spiking is more common than you’d expect.
Don’t feel bad about putting your safety first. Our society has taught us to ignore our gut instinct in order to avoid being rude. You never need to stay in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe and you don’t owe anyone anything on a date.
If you feel someone has behaved inappropriately either online or face to face, be sure to report them to the dating site. Online dating is big business and the companies want to provide a safe service to their users. If your concerns aren’t taken seriously, find a new dating service.
When it comes to online dating, it can pay to prioritise your safety when pursuing Mr or Mrs Right. Follow these tips for peace of mind and to feel empowered to make safe choices. Then go out, meet new people and have fun dating!
About the author
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Tatia is a writer, facilitator, entrepreneur, body image movement ambassador, cossie confidence model and dauntless adventurer. She is passionate about empowering women to embrace their bodies, find their spark and live a succulent, joyous life.