Is online safe, or are dating apps dangerous?
I often get asked if online dating is safe, and for the most part, the answer is, “yes”.
I believe 98% of men who date online have good intentions. It’s the other 2% you need to watch out for.
I’m a fan of online dating. Dating apps are super helpful tools that give us access to wonderful people we wouldn’t otherwise get to meet. Even so, it’s important to ALWAYS be cautious and prioritize your safety.
I want you to be safe and feel comfortable, so here are 14 things you should do to stay safe when you’re dating online:
Online dating safety tips:
1. Google yourself and consider using “Delete Me”:
Google yourself to see if there’s any private information that’s visible online. There’s a service called “Delete Me” that will remove your personal and private information from the Internet. This service can be costly, but many people feel it’s worth the investment to get their information off the Internet.
2. Misspell or change your name when you date online:
People often use Google to research who they’re talking to online. This makes it easy for a stranger to find out who you are and even where you live.
Therefore, I suggest changing the spelling of your name or even using a different name when dating online.
So, if your name is Erica, spell it with a “K” (Erika). Or if your name is Lyndsay, consider going by Lyn, etc.
This will make it harder for someone to figure out who you are. Wait until you feel comfortable to share your real name.
3. Get a Google Voice phone number:
Instead of sharing your real number, get a free Google Voice number, and wait until later to share your real one.
Download the free Google Voice app to text and make calls from your phone without anyone seeing your real number on caller ID. If a man is bothersome or creepy, simply block him.
Google Voice is a great service that I use and recommend.
4. Take a screenshot of men’s online dating profiles:
Before you meet someone for the first time, take screenshots of his online dating profile and photos and share them with a friend or family member.
This way, you’ll have photos and info to help you identify the person should something go wrong.
It’s unlikely there will be a problem, but just in case, a screenshot is a smart move.
5. Check in with a friend or family member before your online date:
Make sure a friend or family member knows who you’re meeting and where you’re going on your date. And arrange a check-in time after the date so they know you made it home safely.
6. Do a Background Check when you meet men online:
Been Verified is an affordable background check service that anyone can use.
Use it to find out if someone has a criminal record, a DWI, or has gone bankrupt. I highly recommend Been Verified or a similar service.
Please keep in mind, a background check does NOT guarantee a man is safe to meet. But it is a good precaution to use.
7. Do a reverse image search of their online dating profile photos:
If you want to learn more about a man you’ve connected with online, consider doing a Google image search of his photos. Image searches don’t always work, but they’re worth a try. If you’re able to ID someone, run a background check to learn more.
8. Do a reverse phone number search:
When a man gives you his phone number, you can use Been Verified to do a reverse phone number search to learn his identity. This doesn’t always work, but it’s also worth a try.
One of my clients recently did a reverse number search and avoided meeting a man with an assault and battery conviction!
9. Get a dating email address specifically for online dating:
If a man asks to connect via email, it’s a good idea to have a separate email address specifically for dating.
Most email addresses have your name or company information in the email address or email signature.
Therefore, I suggest getting a non-identifying Gmail address to share.
I used to call mine my “super secret dating email”, lol! Once I knew someone better, I’d give him my regular email address.
10. Consider taking an Uber to your dates:
Years ago, I was on a date with a man who offered to walk me to my car after dinner. He gave me the creeps, so I declined. Fortunately, there was a Barnes & Noble nearby that closed at 11 PM, so I told him I had some shopping to do. But what if there hadn’t been a store nearby?
To ensure you don’t find yourself in a similar situation, consider taking an Uber to and from your date.
11. Meet at a public place for your first couple of dates:
If a man suggests dinner at his house or a hike in the middle of nowhere (insert eye roll here), please decline.
Men don’t fear for their safety the way we do and often don’t understand how uncomfortable their suggestions make us feel.
To ensure you’re safe, meet your dates in a public place – not off the beaten path or at home. If a man offers to pick you up at your house or to cook you dinner at his place, thank him, but politely decline.
When you know him better (and feel safe), you can invite him over or go on that secluded hike. But please wait until you feel comfortable. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.
12. Don’t accept social media requests until you know someone well:
Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok share a tremendous amount of information about us, so please consider making your accounts private or carefully curating your content.
Do NOT accept a friend request on Facebook from someone you’ve just met. Make sure you know a man well before giving him access to your posts. If he sends a friend request too soon, hit “decline”.
13. Advocate for yourself no matter what:
If someone is making you feel uncomfortable on a date, tell him immediately and ask him to stop. Don’t sit with your discomfort – end it.
Sometimes men can be too touchy when they like you. If something doesn’t feel right, tell him to stop. A good guy will immediately comply and may even apologize.
If a man takes offense when you advocate for yourself, he’s an a-hole. If that happens, end the date immediately.
14. Trust your gut and leave:
If you don’t feel safe, LEAVE.
If you don’t feel safe exiting alone, ask someone at the restaurant, bar, or wherever you are, to walk you to your car or Uber.
Always trust your gut and don’t EVER stay in a situation that feels unsafe.
Women are often taught to be “nice”. Screw nice. If you meet someone online and don’t feel safe, don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Do what you have to do to ensure your safety, period.
I want to end this post by putting things into perspective.
I dated online for years without a single incident, and I’ve worked as a dating coach since 2009, and as far as I know, NONE of my clients have found themselves in a dangerous situation.
Most men are good guys who are sincerely looking for love.
Even so, it’s important to stay safe when dating online, so please use the tips I’ve shared.
And have fun! That’s important too!