How to keep yourself safe when online dating

Dating apps are a great way to meet people but it's important to recognise red flags to keep yourself safe.
online dating safetyGetty

Online dating has revolutionised the way we fall in love. Whether you’re busy, or social situations make you nervous, anyone can find love from the comfort of their couch thanks to dating apps. However, online dating has also brought with it a litany of safety concerns. From scamming to catfishing, there’s a lot that can go wrong if you aren’t fully equipped with cyber safety knowledge.

Here’s everything you need to know to prioritise your safety when online dating.

Be weary of uncomfortable language

Being met with sexually explicit or nasty vitriol can unfortunately be a universal experience on dating apps. It’s not only uncomfortable, it’s also a major red flag if someone starts a conversation off with an aggressive message. ‘If someone approaches you like this online and instantly makes you uncomfortable, simply block their profile.

The dating app Hinge has recently introduced a stress-free feature where the app will automatically hide comments and likes that include keywords and phrases that you have on your Hidden Words list.

Limit the information you share about yourself online

An important aspect of protecting your safety when online dating is to limit the information you share about yourself. When chatting to someone new, it’s perfectly okay to be vague about personal details like where you work, live or study until you know them better.

Avoid moving the conversation to social media too soon

Sometimes another person may ask to move the conversation to social media or texting instead of the dating app you met on. Before you commit to this, make sure you’re definitely comfortable with that person, it can be harder to get rid of them once they have access to more personal means of communicating with you.

If someone is pressuring you to move to a different platform, don’t be afraid to put boundaries in place or to block them altogether if you’re uncomfortable

Look for ‘verified’ profiles

Catfishing is rampant in online dating. One way to avoid catfishing is to look for profiles that have been ‘verified’. This feature exists on apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble and requires an impromptu selfie from the person to prove that they look like their pictures.

If they don’t have ‘verified’ in their profile, that also doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a fake profile, but there may be dead giveaways such as having only one photo.

Watch out for love bombing

‘Love bombing’ is a common manipulative dating tactic where someone will shower you with compliments, affection, gifts and even profess love after hours or days of knowing you. This is a common tactic in romance scams to lower your defences and take advantage of you. If you find yourself on the receiving end of this, it’s best to block that person and move on.

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