Online Dating Safety
Online dating is a very popular way for individuals to find that “special someone” while protecting their true identity and removing the possibility of a face-to-face rejection. Additional qualities that attract people to the online dating scene are:
- The ability to screen and choose individuals from a larger “pool” of candidates who are interested in meeting someone.
- Dating websites offer search filters that allow you to search for your “perfect match”.
- Allowing you to get to know someone a little better than if you were to meet for the first time in person.
- No obligations and the ability to set your own pace and move ahead as you see fit.
Not bad. But, as with all things, there are good attributes and bad attributes. The darker side of online dating has been chronicled in numerous press articles and television shows. While these are definitely the exception, there are predatory individuals on these websites that are looking for their next victim. Crimes such as robbery, sexual assault, identity theft and extortion are just a few examples of the things that could happen to a person innocently looking for love.
The good news is that almost all dating websites do an excellent job in protecting your anonymity and applying standard information security practices. The bad news is, the malicious things that sometimes are exacted on innocent, unsuspecting individuals are a product of their own errors. Not protecting your anonymity and personal information, ignoring basic personal safety protocols, ignorance in modern technological capabilities (let’s face it, we’re not all techies…..) and (it’s cliché, but) ignoring that “gut feeling” you sometimes get when you’re not too sure about something or someone can all lead to online dating nightmares.
We have compiled a few online dating safety protocols that, if followed, can help mitigate the possibility of you becoming a statistic and make for a more pleasurable and enjoyable online dating experience.
Don’t Divulge Personal Information
Now we’re not saying to withhold personal information in perpetuity, just initially and until you get to know someone better and are more comfortable around them. Things such as:
- Last name
- Address and living arrangements
- Vehicle information
- Personal information about your children, siblings, parents, etc.
- Job or where you work
- Social media accounts
- Affiliations (social, vocational, political, etc.)
Do Not Use Social Media Pictures in Your Profile
Conducting a simple reverse search of a dating profile picture on any search engine could lead to your personal social media page(s) and a plethora of personal information if that same picture is shared between you online dating profile and social media page(s). Only use picture that have no affiliation with any of your social media accounts or personal/vocational websites.
Meet in a Public Area
For your first date, make sure to pick a location that is public, well-lit and familiar to you. Also, make sure to park your vehicle in a place that is visible and provides easy access. When the date has concluded, part ways before you go to your automobile even if the individual wants to walk you.
Provide Your Own Transportation
Never allow a first date to pick you up at your home. Always drive yourself, use public transportation or ask a friend to take you and pick you up afterwards. Even if your house/apartment is within walking distance to the place you are meeting, always use some form of transportation.
Make the Plan and Share
Before going on that first date, make plans with the individual for the entire date. Once the plan is established, make sure to share it with someone you trust (friend, family member, etc.) so someone knows exactly where you will be and for how long. Do not deviate from your plan regardless of how well things are going or how well you’re getting along together. And, once the date has concluded, make sure to contact that individual so they know you are safe.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Yes, alcohol can definitely help suppress the nervous feelings associated with a first date. A glass of wine or cold beer is not going to cause you to throw your inhibitions to the wind and dance on the table. But, too much could impede your ability to make rational and safe decisions and cause you problems. Plus, the first date is a time to get to know someone and determine compatibility. Why blunt your senses and dull your intellect with alcohol?
Never Ignore That “Gut Feeling”
We said it before….. It’s cliché….. But, never ignore that weird or strange feeling you get when you’re just not sure about something. How many times have we heard someone say, “I don’t know? Right before it happened I had this sick feeling…..” Your hair stands on end; your stomach becomes queasy. All signs telling you to slow down or walk away (and in some cases, run). Sure, it could be bad shellfish, but it could also be your subconscious warning you of danger. Respect that feeling, get to a safe place, regroup and determine whether or not this relationship is worth pursuing.
Online dating can be a fun and exciting way to meet new people and enjoy their company as long as it’s performed with personal protection in mind and with a lot of common sense. Make safety conscious and rational decisions, never lose your inhibitions or forgo your principles, play it safe and always act responsibly. Who knows, you may just be lucky enough to find “the one”.