It's a match! Online dating is continuing to grow in popularity and constantly evolve. In previous years, websites like eHarmony, Match.com, and Plenty of Fish, dominated the online dating scene. Now, with mobile apps like Tinder, Bumble.com, and Hinge, online dating is transforming to help you find matches easier and faster than before.
As a matter of fact, online dating has become so popular that, according to Match.com, 53% of singles have jumped onto the trend and created their own profiles. But while dating is alive and well, it's important to keep in mind how to stay safe while meeting up with people you don't know very well.
To help you safely embark on your quest for finding that “special someone”, keep these 10 tips in mind.
10 Tips for Staying Safe with Online Dating
Our 10 Safety Tips for Online Dating
Do your research
Everyone should know the drill- do a simple Google search before meeting your date. That doesn’t mean become a stalker, that just means make sure you have at least some idea as to who the person is before you meet with him or her. If possible, try to find pictures and see what additional information comes up about the person beyond Facebook and Instagram.
Use a Google Voice number instead of your own
To take your safety a step further, get a free Google Voice phone number. With the Google Voice app, you’re able to check your calls, voicemails, and messages without giving out your real number. You can also block anyone who comes across a little “sketch”. Keep your personal number secure and only for people you feel comfortable with.
Video chat your date before meeting
Today, there are so many ways to video chat with the ability to use FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype and even Facebook for video calls. It’s a good idea to get a glimpse of your date before meeting him or her. This could also help to reduce the risk of being “catfished” by someone claiming to be someone he or she is not.
Chat by phone before the first date
Go “old-school” and reach out by phone before your first date. Why is this a good idea? Talking by phone allows you to hear the other individual and to pick up on certain verbal cues that may be hidden through instant messaging or texts, Additionally, this gives you the chance to feel out the individual better before first meeting.
Drive yourself or take public transportation
Don’t accept the invitation to carpool- take your own vehicle or use public transportation if possible. Dating app CoffeeMeetsBagel also shares this tip for online dating safety since by carpooling, your first date would find out where you live and essentially have control over where you two go. Taking your own vehicle also lowers the risk of putting yourself in an uncomfortable or even dangerous situation because you’ll be in control over where you go.
Meet up in a public place
For the first date or two, avoid going somewhere private with your date. Instead, meet at a public place where there are plenty of people around, like a restaurant, cafe, skating rink, or another place where there’s typically a good crowd. In the event that you feel uncomfortable, there will be other people around who can help. Additionally, this gives a family member or friend the opportunity to be present or in the vicinity should something go wrong.
As another great tip, if you visit a bar or restaurant, let a bartender or waitress know if things aren’t going right on your date through code. Some bars have secret codes like asking for an “Angel Shot” that guests could use to notify a staff member that something’s off-key.
Tell someone else the deets
That brings us to the next tip- let someone else know who your date is, where you are going, when you expect to be home and any other important details. eHarmony suggests always doing this in their list of tips for a safe and successful first date. It gives you the comfort of knowing someone else knows where you’re supposed to be if something goes wrong.
Don’t give out too much personal info upfront
Bumble offers this important dating safety tip: be careful about the information you share. Don’t give out places you normally visit, your family members’ locations, your birthday and other personal information so quickly. After you and your date get to know each other a little better and feel more comfrtable, then you can share a little more about yourself.
Carry pepper spray
Should things go terribly wrong on your date, it’s better to be prepared than not, so consider carrying a can of pepper spray. Hopefully you won’t have to use this, but like the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Also, be sure that you know how to use your pepper spray should you decide to carry it.
One big mistake that people tend to make while meeting an online date is drinking without being mindful that their date might not have the best intentions. As almost 50 million people online dating today. However, with the landscape of dating changing, it’s still important to keep your safety in mind when meeting with people you don’t know very well.
While women may seem like the only individuals whose safety is at risk, men also need to be cautious with online dating. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that “[m]ore than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime”.
Keep your safety first and foremost. We hope these 10 tips will not only help with your first date but also any dates that follow as you search for your “special someone”.