Dating apps have an infamous reputation for creating new and interesting experiences for singles looking to meet their better half. Dating apps don’t just give singles an opportunity to easily connect with potential matches and build their dating rosters; but they serve as the basis for endless stories--be it success or horror stories. And while dating apps have become the number one way singles meet each other (approximately 30 million Americans have reported using dating sites), it’s important to remember that putting yourself out there on an app can be risky when it comes to sharing personal information. Unfortunately, you could be compromising your safety without realizing it. The FBI recently warned about an uptick in human traffickers luring victims through dating apps and social media. Apart from human traffickers, rapists, murderers--creeps in general are abound and can also be hard to identify until you’re sitting across from them. It’s important to learn how to date safely, and keep yourself protected while connecting with new people from apps. To begin, make sure your profile doesn’t include your last name, exact location, phone number, etc. Your personal information, like where you live, can be accessed by Googling your phone number or running it through a background check website. Upon connecting with a match through a dating app, try your best to keep all interaction on the app itself until you have met that person and developed a relationship. Lots of dating apps, like Hinge, Bumble, and Match, have a phone call or video chat component that doesn’t require you to leave the platform before you’re comfortable doing so.
Similarly, if you do get the other party’s phone number, be sure to Google it to make sure they are who they say they are. If a Google Voice number pops up, that could be a red flag if you are not able to verify the person through any other medium, like social media. Remember, too: if a man is love bombing you through an app, sending provocative photos, or a multitude of other narcissistic manipulation tactics to make you disillusioned and trusting before you have even met in person--RUN! If you have a bad feeling about the person, by all means, do not take it further. Unmatch and block, do not meet up with them. Secondly, all dates should be in busy public places. I highly suggest informing a close friend or family member of who you are meeting, where you are meeting them, what you’ll be wearing, and how long you plan to stay. Have that person be your control center to keep tabs on your whereabouts. Take it a step further by turning on your location on your phone so your friend can check on you that way. Make a plan about when you will check in with your friend to let them know you’re safe. Human traffickers are extremely suave, smooth, and use the most crafty manipulation tactics in the book. Be sure to never leave a drink unattended because someone could slip something into it, and don’t ever get in someone’s car, go to someone’s house, or agree to go on a hike/walk in the woods/walk in the park on a first date. You could be literally walking into the lion’s den. If you happen to find yourself on a date with someone who is making you uncomfortable, or your gut instincts are kicking in with alarms are going off in your head, you can do a few things:
-Get up and say you have to leave. Make it abrupt. Speak loudly so others around you can hear you and pay attention. This will deter the other party from arguing with you or following you out of the location without someone paying attention to him. -Excuse yourself to go to the restroom, call a friend or trusted contact to pick you up, or call you an Uber. -Ask someone who works at the establishment for help avoiding the person or to escort you out to your car. There is even a drink at bars called an “angel shot,” that is designed to be a code to your server that you need help. According to Delish.com, “Here's how it works: Order an angel shot neat and a bartender will escort you to your car. Ask for it with ice and the bartender will call a taxi or Uber for you. Order it with lime and the restaurant staff will call the police. Apparently, this code word was inspired by a similar movement in London, where women are ‘asking for Angela’ to signal an unsafe situation during a date. It was created by The Lincolnshire Rape Crisis, a support service for women and girls in East England.” Dating is fun because there are a lot of wonderful, respectful men out there that are waiting to treat you like a lady and get to know you. And, app dating is a great way to meet people! When done safely, it can lead to your happily ever after. It’s important to keep your head on straight and learn how to date successfully! Photo Source: Pexels.com by CottonBro