In the age of Tinder and Grindr, more and more people are using online apps to date and have casual sex. If you do decide to meet with someone from a dating app, here are my 10 tips to help ensure that you stay safe:
1. Ask for their social media
When you’re chatting with someone online ask to see their social media pages. Most people who are genuine won’t mind sharing their Instagram or Facebook. This lets you get a better idea of what someone is like and you have a little bit more information about them before meeting up.
2. Ask for more pics
Make sure to have a couple of pictures of someone before you meet with them. If someone is only willing to share one photo they might not be genuine and it’s safer to avoid meeting with them. Even more so, it’s definitely better to avoid anyone who is unwilling to share any photo of their face.
3. Agree on expectations before
Make sure you and the person you’re meeting with are on the same page before you meet with them. If you’re willing to have sex, agree exactly what sexual acts you feel comfortable doing beforehand. Remember that if you change your mind or don’t feel comfortable, you can say no to anything, whether it was pre-agreed or not.
4. Leave any valuables at home
Don’t bring a lot of cash or anything valuable with you to meet with someone from an online app. If the person is coming over to your place, hide anything valuable from sight. It’s unlikely someone you meet with would steal from you, but it’s best to be safe.
5. Tell someone your plans
Obviously you might not feel completely comfortable telling your friends you’re going to meet with someone from a dating app but it’s important for someone to know where you’re going. You don’t need to tell them all the details but it’s important someone knows where you’re going. Use something like Snapchat Maps or Find My Friend so that your friend can see your location at all times.
6. Meet wherever you're most comfortable
It might be best to meet someone in a public place if you’re meeting for a date. It’ll be safer if anything should go wrong. But if you’re meeting someone for a hook-up you might wish to meet at your place as it might be a better option than going to their place. You’ll hopefully feel more comfortable and confident in your own space.
7. Avoid alcohol and drugs
If possible try to avoid drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs when meeting people from dating apps. While you’re under the influence you lose your ability to make the rational decision and you might have an increased sex drive. This could put you at risk of doing something dangerous.
8. Don’t be afraid to say no
Consent is crucially important. If you feel uncomfortable with anything that's happening with someone you met from a dating app, say no. Don't feel pressured into anything you're not comfortable with and don’t feel you need do anything that you’re not 100% happy doing. Make sure you respect their decision if they say no.
9. Have safe sex
It’s best not to have unsafe sex with anyone you've met on the internet. Always carry protection like a condom or a dental dam with you in case you ever need it. If you’re having regular sex it’s important to get regular STI checks too.
10. Report anything that goes wrong
If anything happens that makes you uncomfortable, report it to the local authorities. Remember if you have been hurt by someone from a dating app, it’s not your fault. If you have been sexually assaulted contact the Rape Crisis Centre for support on 1800 77 8888 (24-hour service). They can give you the information you need to take the next steps. More information on what to do if you have been sexually assaulted can be found here.
In this modern age of dating, everything is going digital, but hopefully, with these tips, you’ll stay safe when meeting with people from dating apps. Do everything you can to protect yourself.