Online dating and dating apps are a normal part of dating for most people. Primarily we use online using apps like Tinder, Grindr or dating sites like Plenty of Fish. More and more people are find online dating to be a good way of meeting compatible people with similar interests. However, like any form of dating, it comes with its own specific set of risks that you need to keep in mind when you’re thinking of taking your first steps into the digital dating world.
In this article
- What are the advantages of online dating?
- What about the disadvantages?
- So is online dating right for me?
- Safety advice
What are the advantages of online dating?
If you’re struggling to meet people with similar interests in your day-to-day life, online dating can be a great way to find people with the same interests as you. For those of us who aren’t that confident with approaching new people, it can is also a great way to break the ice without breaking into a sweat.
Online dating is fast, easy and convenient, simple process and it’s easy to fit around your schedule.
What about the disadvantages?
It’s easy to pretend to be a different person online, and unfortunately, this happens on online dating sites quite often. You never know who is at the other end of a conversation, and it is important to remember this when getting to know a person online. So even if you’re having a great chat with someone online, always approach cautiously – they may not be who they say they are.
Because people can stay anonymous on dating apps, it means that online dating can be used by sexual predators and other people with sinister motives. It’s really important you are aware of this, and keep yourself away from any dangerous situations.
Dating apps offer many different potential partners. This can lead to a shopper mentality, in which users can move on very quickly. It can make it more difficult to start up a longer-lasting relationship.
Sometimes it can be difficult to really judge how compatible you are with someone without having interacted with them face to face. Even though you may have had some amazing conversations online, when you meet face to face it could turn out to be a complete disaster, and you are much less compatible that it had seemed.
So is online dating right for me?
There is a huge range of experiences you can get from online dating. It may turn out you’ll meet your soulmate on Tinder, or OkCupid may send you on the worst date of your life. More than likely, something in between will happen, and this is fine. There is no harm in trying out one of these apps or websites, and it may even turn out to be a really positive thing for you. Most importantly, if you do decide to enter the world of online dating, you must make sure you are safe, comfortable, and protecting yourself at all times.
Online dating safety advice
Online dating can be a great way to meet people, but you need to make sure everything stays safe. Just like you’d avoid dangerous situations in real life, you should avoid them online too.
Here are some tips for looking after your safety when online dating:
- Keep your personal information to yourself. Never give out your address, where you work, or where you go to school.
- Do not ever give out your financial information.
- Use your first name, or a nickname. Don’t give out your full name.
- Let your friends and family know who you’re talking to online. Online dating is very common now, and nothing to be ashamed of. Open up and have conversations about it.
Meeting with someone you met online
Before you decide to meet:
- Talk on the phone first; this will make it easier to determine that your date is the age and gender they say they are
- Be picky in who you give your number to
- Insist on calling the other person, and be sure to hide your number ahead of time.
- You could also consider doing a video call too. However, make sure not to behave sexually on the call, as this could be recorded without your knowledge or consent.
If you decide to meet in person:
- Make sure you meet in a busy public place. Go somewhere like a cafe, restaurant or shopping centre. You could even bring along a friend.
- Always tell a friend or family member if you’re going to meet them. Tell them who you’re meeting, and where you’re going.
- Don’t get into a car with someone you meet online. During your first few meetings, never get into a car with someone you met online.
- Arrange your own transport in advance, so you know how your getting home.
- Don’t send intimate or sexual photos.
- Never feel under pressure to meet up or move too quickly with your relationship. If the relationship is really worth pursuing, the other person will respect and understand your need to move at your own pace.
- If a person displays anger, tries to pressure you, gives inconsistent information about themselves, or refuses to speak to you on the phone, something isn’t right. Move on.
- If you decide to meet someone, and feel in any way unsafe, call a friend or family member and ask that person to come and meet you. If you need to, call the police. Don’t be embarrassed. Be safe.
For more information about protecting yourself online visit our Online Safey Hub.
Need more information?
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.