Dating apps used to be seen as unusual; they were either rare and exclusive or a private source of shame. Now, though, they’re ubiquitous and can be a great way to meet someone new. Thanks to a single smartphone app, you can hold thousands of eligible partners in the palm of your hand--but with great power comes great responsibility.
Unlike the days when most people met potential dates either in-person or through friends, almost everyone you meet up with from a dating app will be a stranger. While we’ve come a long way from the stranger-danger days of AOL chat rooms circa 1999, it’s still important to know how to protect yourself when meeting someone off the internet. Here are some simple ways to stay safe while still having a great time:
Limit what you share
Not only does this create an aura of mystery about you, but it can protect you from scams like identity theft. Never share your address, any banking or financial information, or anything personal you wouldn’t share with your mom or boss. If they turn out to be a special someone, they will learn it all in time.
Insist on a public location for your first meeting
A public location is a smart choice for a first meeting for several reasons. For one thing, you’re meeting on neutral ground, and if you feel things going south, you’ll be able to make a quick exit. Besides, it’s generally a smart idea to get to know someone before you’re alone with them--you wouldn’t get in a car with a stranger, would you?
Let your friends know where you’re going
It’s always a good idea to tell someone where you’re planning on going in case things go south. Let them know you’ll check in with them at a certain time, and do everything within your power to keep that promise. That way, if they don’t hear from you, they’ll know to send help.
If you get a funny feeling, trust your gut
Maybe you’re out with someone new, and something about them just rubs you the wrong way. In situations like this, it is easy to be conflicted between continuing feeling uneasy or appearing rude. Always choose to opt out. There are gracious ways to leave a date, and you are under no obligation to stay.
Ask for help
Due to the rise of online dating, many bars and restaurants have begun implementing ways to help those in an uncomfortable situation without stirring up attention. The Ask for Angela campaign -- which went viral last November -- gave women the opportunity to get help leaving a bad date by asking for Angela at the bar. This served as code to let the staff know if they needed help. Do a quick google search of campaigns in your area--maybe your local bar has something similar!
Check their social media
Knowing how to spot a fake profile is a vital part of online dating. There are lots of sketchy people who create false profiles in order to gain personal information or run other scams. If you suspect a profile is fake, don’t waste your time--just swipe left!
Now that you’re ready to take care of yourself, go forth and swipe right. Take comfort in the knowledge that you have all the tools you need to stay safe--and, most importantly, make sure to have fun!