Safety During Online Dating
So you've finally decided to jump in there and try online dating?
Regardless if it's online or face-to-face, dating is always a fun and exciting experience. It's a chance for you to connect with someone you might never have had the opportunity to meet in your day-to-day life.
But when you find your dream girl (or guy), is there such a thing as saying too much? Should certain information be kept private for a little longer, or discussed when you have met face-to-face?
The ugly truth is that there are some people – a very small minority – who do not have the best of intentions with those who they speak to online.
Today we will look at some of the best tips to keep you safe when dating online, while still having fun at the same time!
One of the first things to think about is your username as you don't want to give too much away.
In case you were wondering, identity theft is when someone uses your personal details to commit fraudulent acts such as applying for credit cards, payday loans or mobile phones using your own details.
It can take years to notice such a scam, and can take even longer to get fixed. This could also have an impact on your credit record when you genuinely want to apply for something yourself.
Usernames that include your surname, date of birth or personal email address can make it easier for others to learn more about you without even needing to say hello.
ADDRESS AND PLACE OF WORK
Being general about where you live and what you do for work is perfectly acceptable.
Try to think about what information you would openly tell someone when you first meet them. You wouldn't give your address and postcode away, would you?
As an example, you can tell someone that you work in a bar in the centre of town. However, there's no need to tell them which bar it is and what your weekly shifts are.
If your date asks for this information, obviously it can be in complete innocence, but think about that awkward situation if you decide to end the date prematurely.
The last thing you’d want is for them to turn up at your doorstep uninvited or to appear outside (or even inside…) your workplace.
When the time is right and you want to share this information, then feel free to do so.
GIVING OUT YOUR NUMBER
There’s no rush to give out your contact details and move away from the dating website you are using. You should certainly not feel guilty for saying you want to keep things on the website until you’re both comfortable and have met each other.
See this as an extension to your courtship… from both sides. You can keep things casual while also finding out more about each other. It can give you the time you need to comfortably meet up with them while also keeping the good ol’ cat and mouse game fresh and exciting!
If your date is seriously interested in you, they will respect your wishes and will wait until you’re comfortable enough to do so.
USE THE BLOCK AND REPORT FEATURE
Most dating websites offer the facility to block and report someone that you feel overwhelmed or suspicious about.
Don't be afraid to use it when you are not comfortable in any online situation. Dating websites want you to have fun, but they also want you to be safe and have an enjoyable experience.
If there is any sort of aggression or behaviour that you do not feel is acceptable, you can easily end the conversation and report the profile.
THE FIRST FACE-TO-FACE
You've got this far and there's clearly a connection, but don't lose your wits. Meeting somewhere public, that is neutral ground for both of you, will give you both the security and comfort of knowing you are safe. As mentioned above, don't meet at your workplace or home address where you can easily be found again.
Another idea is to even pop by the area where you have agreed to meet before the big day, so you can get your bearings and know your surroundings. Make your own travel arrangements and make sure you know your way to get back home without having to rely on your date.
You could always keep some money separate to use for a taxi if needed.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS
Having an 'emergency contact' so to speak,is a great way of knowing that if there are any issues you have someone who's got your back.
Let your friend know where and when you are meeting up. It does no harm to send them a message to let them know when you have arrived, or how long you are planning to be there for. If things are going well, send them a message to put their minds at ease. If plans change, give them a heads up and let them know a rough idea of what time you will be leaving.
Obviously when you leave your date or you get home, send your friend a text so they know you are okay.
When things are not going as well as expected or you need to find an excuse for an escape, have something in place with your friend to bail you out. You could say they are unwell and you need to go check on them (we've all done it!).
Although these guidelines are here to keep you safe when dating online, every situation is different. Let yourself be the judge and don’t feel that you have to apologize for not sharing personal information with someone you’re unsure about – there’s no right or wrong answers in dating!
So get out there!
And let me know how the first date goes!