They say heartbreaks are the worst. Well it does hurt pretty bad. When one experiences such a thing you can swear never to love again, or even date, but we all know how that ends up. In this modern age, finding a person and eventually dating has never been made easier thanks to our technology. But then, when the deal is too good think twice. By visiting any of the numerous dating sites (like Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder which are mostly used) you can simply create a profile and start meeting new potential suitors right from the comfort of your favorite couch. And just as fast, you can make yourself vulnerable to con artists, phonies and online attackers or just any psycho with a computer and strong Wi-Fi connection.
According to UK’s National Crime Agency, reports of online dating-related sex crimes have increased by 450% in five years. The stigma associated with online dating had reduced by only 6% according to Pew studies of 2005 and 2016, revealing that a large group of people still think that is a desperate move. This has however reduced to a minute percentage as per today. Surprisingly, this did not deter millennials from joining the online dating team. Taking the statistics between 2013 to 2015 for example, the number of senior users doubled from 6% to 12% and their younger counterparts from late teens to early 20s almost tripled from 10% to 27%.
Sounds crazy, but that actually isn’t the whole of it. Online dating beats all the other conventional tools for meeting potential soulmate like friends, work and school combined. Between 2002-2012, a third of the newly wed met online. OkCupid is said to be responsible for over 40,000 first dates and Tinder reports to have a billion swipes daily. As Aziz Ansar put it in Modern Romance, “No other way of establishing a connection has ever increased so far, so fast.” Enough of the statistics, how can you ensure you practice online dating safety especially if you plan to join in soon? Here are the do’s and don’ts.
Choosing a dating site
There are so many with each offering different options. Some are for specific people while others are general. While getting one that suits you, it’s also important to ensure the site is secure.
• Consider joining one of the most popular sites like Tinder, OkCupid, Match.com etc. Extensively research on the site prior to, and get to know how it works.
• Join a paid site. This is actually a very good idea, sites that charge people discourage scammers since they mostly run criminal background screening. You’re quite guaranteed of meeting serious and legit dates.
This is how you put yourself out there. Most people want to create this perfect persona in order to meet more respectable potentials. 50% to 80% of online dating users lie about themselves on profile. Women usually about their age and men about their job. I’ll always stand for the fact that it isn’t right to start dating anyone on the basis of lies, especially if you want it to last. This then doesn’t mean you share all your details , that is actually dangerous. To ensure your privacy:
• Do not give both your real names on the profile or to any potential match before you meet. What doesn’t Google know? With both your first and second name, or the surname, any stranger can access all your background history available online. Imagine a stalker knowing where you live or even which company you work for. It can lead to a security breach or dire consequences. As a matter of fact Google yourself, see what information is out there about you. So no second names, emails or addresses.
• Do not use the same pictures or usernames you have on any of your social media accounts. Linking a dating account with any of your other accounts is a bad idea. Reverse image search can effortlessly lead anyone back to the other websites. The same goes for the username. As a safety precaution though, you can do online searches of a person you are about to meet, even use their picture to run Google face recognition just to have a vivid idea of the type of person he or she is.
• Use in-site messaging and in addition create a free email with aliases, not your real name. As you continue talking to a person, you might begin to trust them and start letting your guard off one after the other. Usually, after a few chats, people advance to either emails or more commonly calls. When it gets to this point, use that email instead.
• Get a Google Voice number. Thanks to this, you get a new number forwarded to your phone which you can use in online dating. Enabling you to simultaneously talk to your dates and protect your cell number. It is very simple to block people too when you feel threatened or uncomfortable.
Ask as many questions as you want before meeting anyone. Let them give you a recent unedited picture of themselves to ascertain they are whom their profile picture insinuates them to be. Don’t be afraid of making your found date a little uncomfortable, just don’t be a weirdo, they’ll outright block you. We both don’t want that for you. Learn how to efficiently identify online dating scammers. They create fake profiles and dupe you into giving them sensitive personal information.
Be very careful about your webcam chatting behavior, it might be used to blackmail you. Don’t visit links without critically thinking about them, they can be leading to malicious sites. Also learn to check red flags like someone coming up with a sob story, asking for money, using celebrity pictures or someone else’s instead or seemingly postponing your first real date. The person might just be nervous on the brighter side, if not, they want to keep it online because there’s something to hide. Ultimately, better safe than sorry.