In the era of catfishing and online dating disasters, it’s important to know who you are meeting up with and to stay safe while searching for companionship in a pool of strangers. I’ve been in the online dating game for a while now and have learned a few lessons along the way. Here are some tips to stay safe while you swipe.
Know who you’re talking to
On apps like Tinder and Bumble you only get a person’s first name. Get their full name and do your research. Make sure they are who they say they are.
If what you find online doesn’t add up to what their profile says or what they’ve told you, chances are they’re a fraud.
Over the years I’ve run into creeps like this. One still haunts me to this day.
I had agreed to meet this guy out on the Katy Trail one day a few summers back.
Before meeting he told me over and over how he didn’t have social media and refused to tell me his last name. I looked past the red flags and met him anyway.
Once we were on the trail, he pulled out his phone and started taking a video of me.
I found this odd since he had no social media, so I asked what the video was for. He answered by telling me he wanted to show his friend how good I looked. My mind immediately started racing and every hair on my body stood up. I’d heard stories like this from women who’d been trafficked before.
I cut the date short and got away from him safely, but I always wonder what might’ve happened had I went farther down the trail with him.
Then I began seeing his face on multiple profiles, each one with a different name. First it was Leo. Then it was Alex. Then Jonathan.
I reported and blocked him several times and put out a warning on social media for other women to steer clear of him, but who knows who else he’s tricked into meeting him.
Meet in public
Be sure to meet in a public setting with plenty of people around, preferably in daylight. It’s safer to meet for coffee or lunch rather than dinner for the first time. Dinner usually includes drinks, and drinks impair your judgment. Other places you could go for your first meet-up are the museum, arboretum, aquarium or zoo.
Share your location
Tell your friends where you are going and what time you will be there. You can also share your location with your friends or a family member so they can regularly check up on you.
I personally share my location with a handful of my closest friends just in case anything was to ever happen to me.
An easy way to do this is to go into your messages with whoever you want to share location with, hit the info button, and then choose share my location. When you select this, you have the option to share your location for an hour, a day or indefinitely.
Take your own transportation
If someone insists on picking you up, decline. It is safer to drive yourself to a date or have a Lyft or Uber take you. If you let this mystery date pick you up, then they will have your address. If the date goes sour, you don’t want to have to look over your shoulder every time you come home. Using your own gas or spending a couple of dollars on transportation will save you the stress and paranoia of your date possibly coming back by your home unannounced.
Listen to your gut
Always trust your instincts. If at any point someone makes you feel uncomfortable, get out of there. It’s always important to trust your gut feeling especially if someone makes you feel uneasy, is being pushy or acts downright strange. I’ve been out with someone who’d had too much to drink and became extremely pushy and handsy. This made me uncomfortable and I didn’t want the situation to escalate, so I called myself an Uber and left.
Do not ignore red flags and know your boundaries. Safety should always be your top priority when meeting with a stranger. Keep these tips in mind on your search in finding that special someone.