Not only is it easier than ever to meet people online, but these days it’s normal and socially acceptable too.
This can be a good and bad thing: good, because many young professionals simply don’t have time to get out there and meet people. And bad because of catfishing: when people pretend to be someone they’re not online by creating a false identity. Maybe they use a photo that isn’t really them, or lie about their age, profession, who they really are or their true motivations. Not cool, but it happens – and it can jeopardise your safety.
That isn’t to say that catfishing and other dodgy internet dating practices should turn you off online dating forever, but just that you should go into it with eyes wide open.
Love me tinder
Whether for hook-ups or potential relationships, apps like Tinder and Grindr have helped tons of people to meet up, and they could be great for you too. But before you dive in and swipe right on potential matches, here are a few things to keep in mind.
5 tips for using online dating apps safely
1.First things first: check him out on social media: When you meet a guy you could be into, check out his Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LinkedIn page. Often you can get a good feel for a person by seeing a snippet of their feed, and it’s also one of the simplest ways to rule out catfishing. If he only has one or two photos and there’s virtually no info to be found, you’re better off steering clear. As a bonus, if you notice that you have mutual friends, this may put you more at ease.
2.Less REALLY is more (except when it isn’t – we’ll get to that in the next point). When it comes to sharing personal information, reveal as little as possible at first. Essentially you’re getting into a convo with a person who is a complete stranger, and whose motivations are unknown to you. Trust takes time, especially when you’re chatting online only.
3.When less ISN’T more. “Send nudes” has become such a common refrain that it’s turned into a meme – you need only open your Insta feed to see countless permutations of the phrase. Lots of guys are just after getting a quick look at your body, so think carefully before you undress for the camera. If you do decide to go ahead, make sure you don’t include your face in the photos.
4.Look out for red flags. Someone who pushes for personal info, wants to meet up really quickly or seems to be developing an unhealthy preoccupation with you should set alarm bells ringing. Listen to your gut. If you feel in any way uncomfortable, disengage without feeling any guilt. And never be afraid to report someone who behaves in a creepy, inappropriate or threatening way.
5.Meet publicly. When you get to the point where you want to meet in person, do it in the daytime, in a busy place, preferably with a friend. Even if your friend doesn’t sit with you, let them keep an eye on you from a distance. Many Tinder users say this is exactly how they conduct their first meet-ups: with a trusted friend keeping a watchful eye.
Meet safely – and hook up safely too
If all goes well and you’re both into each other, you may want to take things further. Safe sex is a must, which means stocking up on condoms and making sure your birth control is sorted. Don’t just rely on him to carry condoms – pop a few in your bag too.