Dating apps and sites offer so much opportunity to connect with others. It’s wonderful and at the same presents some risk. It’s tough to balance meeting up with people in a way that is fun and easy while also taking steps to protect your safety. Here are some practical tips that can help you avoid risks and red flags. This is a tough issue in need of better solutions- but don’t let it stop you from getting out there. Happy and fun dating!
While on the dating apps and sites:
The single best thing you can do is to verify identity at the first interaction before continuing to communicate. Once you are matched, messaging or meet up, it’s often possible for dates to geotrack your location and personal data due to today’s widespread data tracking practices that share it – even if you never share your information and only interact inside the app. By getting a phone number or last name, you can do a background check screening for concerning history and verifying if the person is who they say they are (and if the profile is even real vs. a scammer). Even easier you can simply ask them to send you a verified link from Dateschecker.com so you do not need to do this extra work.
Limit social media site research on your own devices because of the boomerang problem. If you view dates on Facebook or Linked In, there is a strong chance you will show up in their “who you may know” feeds. This also happens frequently even from just using the apps or texting because of data mining across our phones and accounts. It’s not practical to view them from an anonymous device or logout of all sites all the time, nor can we keep our setting on social media completely private. When possible, search for and view the person on a friend’s device so there is a degree of separation. We hope in time data privacy will improve, but for now any profiles we look at can cause our own names, photos and details to be fed to random people we may want to avoid once we learn more.
Before dates and when setting up dates:
Guard personal data details, meet in public places you are familiar with already, and tell a friend where you’ll be. This is common advice, but only works at the very beginning. If you hit it off with someone of course you will soon want to exchange phone numbers to be able to coordinate easily, meet for activities beyond a coffee shop or bar- it’s dating! And we are often on the move quickly with changing plans so reporting details to a friend is an extra burden. Nonetheless these are smart strategies to keep to for the first few dates.
Don’t trust your gut instinct and first impressions to disregard your usual safety practices. Unfortunately, lots of people with concerning behaviors can present at first as very charming and ‘normal.’ This can be part of a manipulative act or dysfunctional personality. Stick to 100% ID verification/screening
While on dates:
Phones: Keep your phone with you and locked at all times. Keep Apple’s Air Drop or similar phone sharing features off and do not join the public wifi at the venue.
Money: If you use a credit card to pay, keep the details out of the date’s sight. Same with large amounts of cash.
Establishing exit points: Set expectations about the end point from the start. For example: “I’ve got to leave by 7, can you help me keep an eye on the time?” Have a polite exit response ready in mind before arriving so that if you want to leave you can quickly, without raising alarm. For example, “Well I have got to go now to get to stay on schedule. I enjoyed meeting you, thank you for making time and coming out.”
Say bye at the date venue. Decline offers for the date to walk you to your car/ home/ elsewhere. While it sounds nice and polite, you don’t want them seeing your license plate/address or being at a possibly more dark/isolated place.