Many people assume that using an online dating service is the equivalent of throwing in the towel, admitting defeat and screaming, “I’m desperate and incapable of functioning in normal society!” Actually, online dating is not for the desperate. In fact, research shows that more of us are starting to use online dating services as a way to meet that someone special.
Anyone that follows my social media platforms will know that recently I have started to use Tinder as a dating platform after a number of unsuccessful forays on Plenty of Fish. Now I haven’t been more successful on Tinder but I’m ever hopeful that my luck may change.
If you’ve been considering taking the plunge into Internet dating but aren’t quite sure how to get started, here are my tips to ensure that your experience is a positive, safe and successful one.
Tip 1: If you’re unfamiliar with the technology or completely clueless about what write in your profile, ask your friends to help you out. Don’t let a lack of familiarity keep you from participating in online dating. Chances are pretty high that someone you know already knows the ropes and would be willing to help you out. Most online dating sites also offer tips to help you get started.
Tip 2: Be completely honest with your profile and photo. You don’t want to lie about your age, your background or your personality. It’s much easier to be brutally honest in the short term than run the risk of attracting incompatible people. Not everyone will take this advice, but you don’t want to start a relationship based on falsehoods. Neither do you want a potential mate to turn up on a date and realise that you look nothing like your profile.
Tip 3: Protect your identity and anonymity. You wouldn’t give personal information out to a stranger on the street, so why would you do so over the Internet? It is best to use your first name only during initial conversations and provide more detailed personal information only after you’ve met in person and gotten to know one another well. Legitimate online daters will understand the reasons for doing this and will be doing the same themselves. Also, when you decide to give someone a phone number online, use your mobile, rather than your home or work phone. If things don’t work out, mobile numbers aren’t necessarily able to direct someone to your address. Not to mention modern mobile devices make it easier to block people who prove to be less than pleasant.
Tip 4: Never provide your last name, address, or other personal or financial information to a person you have not met. Never, under any circumstances, give money to someone you don’t know well and have not met in person. This applies to anyone you meet online, regardless of whether it is within the confines of an Internet dating or other site. Beware of any potential partner who asks you directly for cash!
Tip 5: Take your time getting to know someone on-line. Studies show that relationships develop faster online. My advice is to wait at least one week before you meet face-to-face. And, before you meet in person, try to move the conversation from online to phone. During a phone chat you’ll get a better sense of whether your personalities click. Also, by taking it slow, you are more likely to see inconsistencies in their behaviors and actions
Tip 6: When you are ready to meet, arrange to do so in a busy public place, like a coffee shop. Try to pick somewhere you are both familiar with so that if you do have to make a quick exit that you know exactly where to go. If its at night, do not underestimate the benefits of street lighting Don’t have your date pick you up or drive you home (or vice versa) It might sound overkill but the last thing you want to do is put yourself in an awkward or dangerous situation.
It’s a good idea to let someone else know your plans, where you’re going, what time, and your date’s name and phone number. I usually tell my emergency person a cut off time, for example if you have not heard from me by X o’clock you need to be worried. I have recently added in an extra safety measure- take a selfie from my car displaying a certain gesture. If you get a photo of me with anything other than this gesture then you need to worry. I know this may seem like my anxiety brain in overdrive but if the worst came to it and I am stuck with a dangerous person, the last thing I want to do is piss them off even more and let them know that I’m telling someone else that I am unsafe.
You can even have a friend drop you off and pick you up from this first in-person meeting. Keep your initial meeting relatively short and if you like the person, there’s always time later for a longer date!
Tip 7: Listen to your gut. Online dating can be a great way to find people with common interests; however, building a relationship takes time and attention. Look for consistency in behaviors and answers to your questions. Pay attention to early warning signs that someone might not be legitimate or might not be presenting themselves honestly. For example, does he want to know all about you, but seems disinterested or vague in sharing details of his life? Is the telephone number she provides out of service, or is it unable to accept messages for days? Does he or she profess love or devotion within a matter of hours or days? Is he never able to meet you in person, because he is always out of the country? Do the messages only come through late at night or only during work hours? These should raise flags. Also try and get the person to send you a selfie. If they are who they say they are they should have no problem doing so.
It may not apply to everyone but an absence of social media generally sends red flags for me. To have zero social media presence is a rarity. Not to mention its a handy way of seeing what commonalities you have.
Tip 9: Don’t be talked into any action that is not in your best interest. Think before you act. As with anything you do on the Internet, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
Online dating can be a great way to meet new people and if you’re like me a novel way of amassing horror stories. Taking the time to do it well and protect yourself is a matter of common sense and the best way to ensure that your online dating experience is safe, satisfying, and hopefully successful.