Are you looking for love? My bet is that you are considering online dating, which today is how many of us meet our partners. Did you know that six million Brits admit to using the internet to find a partner (Bloomfield 2009) as there is no longer that stigma left to finding a partner via the internet?
Online dating apps and platforms are easily accessed via our phones and laptops, but beware - not everyone on these sites is who they say they are. You need to be psychologically ready and hypervigilant to negotiate the plethora of apps and sites. Here are some tips to help:
How can I keep myself safe when online dating?
- Check out the person online as it is important to know they are “a real person”. It is easy to Google them - this is an advantage of everyone living their lives online, to verify that they are who they say they are. If you met via a Facebook profile, then check that the person doesn’t have multiple accounts with very limited information. Fake accounts usually have very low friend counts, photos with no tags or no photos of family members. If you come across any of these, this should ring alarm bells.
- Protect yourself by making sure that you have privacy settings in place and do not give out too much personal information online.
- Trust your gut – people can create “fantasy” profiles online, via text or even on the telephone. Be sure to ask as many questions as you need to put your mind at ease. Don’t be afraid to offend - if you are being pursued online, if that person is genuine then they will ensure that your safety and security is a priority.
- Meet as soon as you are able, when you feel comfortable to do so, and in a public place - or if distance is a problem then Skype or Facetime. When the relationships are maintained only online it makes it easier for people to maintain lies or keep secrets.
- If your online date seems too good to be true, that is because they probably are. Trust your own instincts, don’t ignore feelings of discomfort or hesitancy and don’t talk yourself into investing in a relationship with a person that you haven’t met. You can delete as quickly as you were able to connect.
How to keep yourself safe on a first date:
- Meet in a public place - never accept a dinner date to the persons home or ask them to pick you up from your home address. At this point, your date does not need to know where you live. More and more first dates are being made at brunch or lunchtime, moving away from the traditional later evening dates. This has the advantage that it is light and that there are more people around than at night. There are also no late nights negotiating the buses or tubes.
- Tell a friend where you are meeting your date and details about the person that you are meeting. Make sure that you have more details about the date other than just his/her online username. A telephone number or email is helpful. Also, do not be afraid or feel guilty if when your date nips to the loo you text your friend to check in to let them know that you are okay. Make sure that at the end of the date that you inform your friend that you are safely home.
Always be safe.
If you are having problems with dating or maintaining relationships or at a point in your life where you are wanting to start dating again and would like some support through online individual relationship counselling, then please contact me.