Tips to Protect Yourself: Online Dating Edition

If you are single in the 21st century, you know that the times, they have changed. Dating has gone digital. More than 38 percent of confirmed single-and-looking individuals have tried online dating. Online dating is a fun and practical approach to finding that special someone, but it also has its dangers. You are, after all, flying nearly blind into these dates. To protect yourself from the potential hazards of online dating:

Be Wary of What You Share

Many dating sites like eHarmony and ask a lot of questions as you are creating your profile. The idea is that in order to match you with prime candidates, they need to collect this data to pre-screen your personality and match you appropriately. They ask questions of preference, give you quizzes, online forms and some even ask for a blood test! Here’s the thing — many dating sites sell your personal information, and marketing companies pay top dollar to learn about what you like to buy, eat and how much you are willing to spend. Limit what you share about yourself, because once you enter that information into their systems, it is there forever.

Protect What You Do Share

Selling your info to advertisers may seem like more of an email spam inconvenience than a danger, but consider the information you put out into the world. Your pet’s name, your birthday (well, maybe not your real birthday), your gender, ethnicity, height and more, is now vulnerable to compromise. Having a form of identity theft protection in place before you register for these dating sites is a great way to protect your info, which will be floating defenseless in cyber space, waiting to be hacked. A subscription to an identity theft protection service can be a priceless investment when it comes to guarding yourself while dating online.

Check In

A modern take on the timeless strategy of the buddy system is to designate a friend to be your invisible chaperone. With the option of text messaging and instant messaging, you are never alone. Update your buddy periodically, letting him or her know your current location, state of mind and where you plan to go next. Plus, if the date goes horribly, you have someone on standby to phone you and interrupt the awkward silence with an “important work issue” or “family emergency,” which of course, you need to tend to immediately.

Protect Your Physical Well-being

Carrying a discreet, legal weapon that you can use in self-defense, just in case the worst should happen, is a good idea when meeting someone for the first time. Learn how to use a taser. If you don’t own a taser, though, pepper spray is a bit easier to maneuver, and is available in may sporting goods stores. Just beware of potential self-inflicted injuries. Remember, point away from your face, downwind.

Online dating can be an effective tool for helping you find the mate of your dreams, but in worse case scenarios, it can be a frightening, dangerous experience. If you take the right precautions, protect yourself and your vital information, then you can participate in the cyber dating trend without having to file a police report later.