Most of us have at one time or another been looking for love in all the wrong places. Sure, there were plenty of fish in the sea, but trying to meet people seemed as difficult as fishing without a rod. Then came Internet dating, and the sea became a whole lot easier to access. According to Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American singles have registered on an online dating site.
Finding that special someone has become easier than ever, but as the popularity of dating virtually has increased, so has the possibility of crime. Online scams and physical and sexual assaults have all been traced back to individuals the victims encountered on a dating site. That’s why it is more important than ever to surf and swipe safely. Here are five tips to help you safely navigate the waters of Internet dating.
Set up an anonymous email
Use an anonymous email account dedicated to receiving all of your dating data. Not only is it a good means of organization, but it avoids offering personal information unwittingly. With an email address, anyone can tap into your social media sites and find out about your family, where you went to school, even where you work.
Don’t use your full name
Imagine that someone asked for your Social Security number over the phone. Sounds fishy, right? Well, with just your name, phone number and address, any inquisitive individual can find out more personal information about you. Crooks have been known to dig through garbage for bank account and credit card digits, so be careful how much personal data you divulge to suitors online. Use only your first name when you first begin chatting.
Withhold any details until after you have met in person and have had a chance to get a better feel for the person. If the guy or girl you’re meeting is genuinely interested in you, he or she will understand your reasons for holding back.
Meet in public
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to keep this in mind if plans change. There is no reason for your date to pick you up from home.
Make sure you have your own transportation, not just to prevent him or her from knowing your address, but also so you can make a quick exit if things get uncomfortable or weird.
Tell someone your plans
Before your first date, it is a good idea to let a friend or family member know exactly where you will be and when. Check in when you arrive, update that person periodically, again when you leave and finally when you arrive home safely.
It is generally not a good idea to leave your pre-determined meeting place, but if you feel it is safe to do so, let your friend or family member know.
Never leave your beverage unattended
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for women and men to be slipped drugs by their dates via food and drink. Substances like rohypnol, GHB and ketamine have been used to spike drinks to incapacitate victims and distort their memories. When meeting someone you do not know, it is best to play it safe and make sure any consumables are within your line of sight at all times.
Online dating can be an amazing experience, and your chances of meeting someone special are better than before the Internet and its wonders, but the dangers of going out with a stranger are still very real. Your boat ride through the online tunnel of love can be a smooth one as long as you date smart and safe.