Online dating is a great way to meet, and for many online dating works, 20% of people currently in a relationship met their partner online. Since 44 million Americans use online dating services, finding a suitable match seems likely. However, the web is unregulated, few sites require identification or take precautions to ensure safety. Considering there are more than 2,500 online dating services, and 1,000 more starting each year, it pays to be mindful.
When you are on a date you’re semi-alone or fully alone with a stranger.
As a Madam, screening was a habit
It ensured we didn’t become another statistic, and we stayed in business. Extra precautions such as looking up an IP address, running information through a screening service, verifying identity with other providers, ensuring they weren’t blacklisted, looking up their handing on databases or platforms, or talking over the phone was a necessary step. If something caused a red flag to go up the date would feel uncomfortable and instead of coming across as reserved or not enjoying our time, it was important we took precautions.
For the casual date, all of that may deflate the excitement of going on a first date, the goal of which is to learn more about the other person and enjoy time together. A
1- Go into online dating with realistic expectations
Instead of viewing profiles as a resume for potential future spouse, look at them like a brief introduction. 53% of people lie in their online profile, and while that is usually about age, fitness, or income, profiles reflect how someone wants to be and may not be a true reflection of their current lifestyle. While online platforms are a great way to connect, they also provide anonymity.
2- In your online profile
- Use different photos for different sites, do not post photos from your LinkedIn or work account to your dating profiles.
- Do not post cell phone photos without removing the GPS geo tagging details your iPhone stores with your photo. And do not send anyone photos without doing the same.
- Use a non-identifiable email address, create an email that doesn’t consist of identifying details.
- Or use the online dating site’s messaging system or a VPN, so your IP address is not trackable back to your residence.
3- Before the date
Someone’s online personality come across as brusque or over excited, they may seem over-eager or out of practice. Chatting in real life can tell you a lot about them, plus it may provide their phone number.
- Typing their phone number into a browser may provide some information. If they’re involved with extra curricular activities and post their number, it is archived.
- The same goes for their handle. People often use the same handle for many platforms, across social media, and different dating sites.
- It’s worth reverse image searching their photos on Google images or TinEye, to give peace of mind their images aren’t ‘borrowed’ from somewhere else
4- Ideas for a safer first date
Meeting in a public location, during the day and for a shorter amount of time is not only safer, but provides plenty of time to determine if interest is there for another. Save longer dates for later, when you know you’ll have plenty to talk about.
- Suggest meeting over something vanilla: tea, coffee, ice cream, a walk in a busy public park.
- Join a tour group, like a Segway, or food tour. First dates aren’t meant to be intimate anyway, they’re designed to get to know someone.
- Choose something active, like bowling over a movie – it’s easier to have a conversation.
For more reasons why shorter first dates are ideal, read my article here.
5- When you’re on the first date
(Actually, the first FEW dates) Everyone should keep e a few precautions in mind; regardless of gender, whether you’ve met before, share friends, or even are friends yourself. Since a date equates to intimacy, it can trigger behavior changes and even someone you know may seem like a different person.
- Do not leave any drink alone
- Do not leave your purse or wallet laying around for them to peek at if you step away
- Instead of riding together, meet at the date location
- Don’t make it obvious which vehicle you drove. It’s easy for someone to note your license plate or details
- If they insist on walking you out to your car, order an Uber
- Do not casually share personal information such as your neighborhood, where you work, etc
6- Taking the date more private
Less public locations provide more intimacy, allow chemistry to build, and will eventually happen on a follow up date.
- If you have their information, visit their social media
- If you have their name you can perform a quick background check on Instantcheckmate, for history with authorities, or sexual offenses
- A background service to keep your eye on is Garbo, designed to make it easier to know if a date has a record of violence though public records.
7- If alarm bells go off during a date
End the date. A little white lie such as a text came in from a friend and I need to attend an emergency, may feel easier than simply saying my plans have changed, but you are not obligated to power through a bad date. Empathy for another persons feelings are normal, it can feel uncomfortable disappointing them, but it only adds to date fatigue and once a date goes south it rarely gets better.
If you feel threatened, talk to a waitress or have a security guard watch for your to ride arrive. Call a cab or an Uber, don’t leave in your car and don’t go straight home, meet with a friend somewhere public. You don’t want them following you to one of your favorite hangouts.
8- Prefer risqué first dates?
Have a thing for dungeon dates, climbing mountains, or diving deep oceans? I get it, adrenaline and targeted activities ensures you’re not wasting time with someone incompatible. There are additional steps you can take. If you choose not to share plans with a friend, to check up on you at targeted intervals,
- Safety apps, like Kitestring check-in via text and alert emergency contacts if needed
- Wearable jewelry such as Get Flare and Invisawear have an internal alert system that may be suitable for some
9- Invest a few minutes and make screening a habit
It can be easy to let your guard down, but you’ll feel more comfortable to enjoy the time together, learn more about them and let chemistry build, or not, if you take the time for a few preliminary steps.