Unlike a decade or two ago, online dating is now a regular and normal everyday thing. Gone are the days where your friends would make fun of you for having a profile online or even for taking a chance and actually meeting someone you’ve met online (while secretly wishing they were brave enough to put themselves out there).
Although it is pretty common place now and is thought to be safe, there are still some out there who are willing to take advantage of those looking for love online. This could be through identity theft or even perhaps physical harm.
We’ve all heard the stories and think it’ll never happen to us, but you just never know. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry (which is applicable in more ways than one…), so here are a few tips for keeping safe when dating online.
Get To Know Him First
You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but with apps like Grindr, Scruff and Growlr, some out there will propose meeting before even saying hello. Sure this can be exhilarating, agreeing to meet a complete stranger after a couple messages, but is this really safe? What do you really know about them?
Let’s be honest, some of the people online may not be who they say they are. They could be using fake pictures or making up a false persona to lure you in. Before committing to meeting them, try to get as much details about them as you can without making it seem like you’re interrogating them – it may not be sexy or hot, but what’s more important, hot sex or your own safety?
Protect Your Identity
With all the identity thefts happening out there, it should be second nature to protect your personal information online. But yet when hooking up online, we all tend to hand out our address like it’s candy.
Think about it like this.. sure, the guy may be super cute and you’re really getting along, but why would you suddenly disclose personal information like your address (or where you work, or your full name, etc) to a complete stranger?
Tell A Friend
They always say when you’re meeting someone new for the first time to always let someone know where you’re going.. But how many of us actually do it? Your personal safety is worth taking a few moments to let your BFF know where you’ll be, and perhaps to send them a quick message when your date’s at the bar or in the loo to let them know how it’s going. Or if you need them to come rescue you from Mr Crazy-Eyes.
Get A Photo
These days there really shouldn’t be any reason why someone doesn’t have at least one picture of themselves. And by picture, we’re talking about a full-on clear face picture where you can see who they are, and not just a close up of their eyes or their scruffy beard.
Before agreeing to meet anyone, you should have a good idea of who you’re meeting and what they look like.. And that’s not about aesthetics or physical attractiveness either. Why agree to meet a perfect stranger who knows what you look like, but won’t show you their face until you meet?
Listen For Details
When talking on the phone or on Skype, keep an ear out for how they communicate, as this could be key. Does speaking to them make you feel uneasy? Is there something about how they come across that makes you feel unsure if you should still meet them? Listen carefully and it could tell you a lot about them.
Meet In A Public Place
This should be an obvious one, but so many guys will chat to someone and then immediately invite them over to their house without meeting them in public first. The best bets are a busy cafe or pub where you’re safely visible, and not necessarily the one closest to your flat (in case you want to bring them home for a quick shag).
Meeting at his house (or yours), or meeting in some dark park/cruising space could be exciting, but could also be a recipe for disaster.
Have An Exit Strategy
Pre-plan what you’re going to do if the date goes badly and you need a reason to leave. It’s not just knowing where the exits are, or how you’ll extract yourself from Mr Gropey, but also how you’re going to get home… And if the guys is being especially weird or stalkerish, take a different route home than you usually would just in case he follows you without your consent.
Know His Sexual History
Let’s be frank – there are way too many people out there who don’t know their HIV status. Or if they do and are positive, they are shockingly willing to lie about it in order to get someone into bed.. and are overly willing to have unprotected sex with a complete stranger.
You don’t need a blow-by-blow (pun intended) history of his entire sex life or even know the exact number of guys he’s been with (does anyone keep count these days?). But if he’s unwilling to answer questions about his status, or is ambiguous about their last STD test, then you need to protect yourself. Him telling you he’s ‘clean’ is not good enough.
Note: This article was inspired by How To Be Safe Dating Online (Click HERE to read original article) on about.com.