Online Dating Safety in the Digital Era

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Online dating has no doubt changed our lives for the better—we get to meet all sorts of people we’d probably never come across in real life without ever leaving your couch while in your comfy clothes. But it’s not a bed of roses 100 percent of the time.

Because even though it’s mad convenient, it comes with its share of dangers. You’re interacting with random strangers, and although it’s not face-to-face (at first), you’ve got to be on your game and keep your eyes open because, let’s face it, not everyone on dating apps are there for the right reasons or are going to turn out to be a love story for the ages.

You need to practice dating safety in the digital era, and we’re going to give you the tips you need to to know!

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Staying Safe in the Digital Dating World

If you are new to online dating, think of it like you’re venturing into an unknown big metropolis for the first time. It’s new and exciting, right? But you wouldn’t walk around with your purse open, would you? You wouldn’t! It’s an apt metaphor for the internet—it’s kind of the same vibe, just an online version.

There are some shady and sus characters out there, from catfishers (not the ones you find in a lake!) to people who could be even more dangerous. Being smart and alert to know the signs of what to watch out for is the best way to navigate digital dating.

The Safety Toolkit for Swiping

Ok, so you’re ready to start swiping or clicking a heart icon, but remember, your safety’s the most important thing. Here’s your toolkit for keeping it safe and secure while looking for love online!

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Checking Out Your Date

If someone’s profile seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just one super hot pic that could be an overseas model or no real info about them? Red flag! We repeat, red flag! Always do a quick image search on their photos—just upload that pic on Google and reverse image search that photo. If they’re all over the internet under different names, you’ve got a catfish on the line. Don’t fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Not only could they hurt you emotionally, but they could be after your money.

Another good option for finding information about a potential match is Social Catfish. It is a web-based detective agency that can help protect you from scams.

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Your Info is Gold

Don’t go handing out your life story—this is a potential date, not a census or a therapist. Keep things like your address, where you work, and your bank details to yourself. You wouldn’t give a random stranger the keys to your house, would you?

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Smart App Use

Those dating apps safety features? They are your friends, so get to know them and use them. They are there to help keep you safe, kinda like your invisible digital bodyguards.

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Chatting Smart

Stick to a dating app’s messaging or communication system when you first begin talking to a match. If someone is pressuring you for your digits from the jump, that means they are either looking for a quick hookup (which is fine, no judgment), needy, or pushy. Unless you’re on board with a fling, none of these things are a good sign.

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Social Media: A Two-Way Street

Sure, do a bit of snooping (don’t outright stalk, be cool about it) on their social media, but remember they can do the same to you! In other words, don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your mom or a potential romantic partner to see. If you would be embarrassed if someone whose opinion matters to you saw it, get rid of it. Or better yet, don’t post it in the first place.

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First Date Strategies

Always, always pick a public spot for your first meet-up. Coffee shops or bars are great for this. And don’t forget to let a friend know where you’ll be and who you’ll be with, just in case.

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Listen to Your Gut

If something feels off, it probably is. Never, ever feel bad or guilty about bailing on a date if you’re in any way uncomfortable. Trust your instincts and intuition—they’re rarely wrong.

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Easy on the Booze

Of course you want to have fun on a date, and if you’re meeting at a bar, you should indulge! A drink can also calm those first date jitters, but know your limits and don’t go overboard. You don’t want to lose your edge or be messy when you should be staying sharp.

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Be the Boss of Your Ride

Drive yourself or get an Uber on a first date —relying on a rando stranger for a ride is never a good plan when you don’t know someone.

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Have an Exit Plan

If things get weird or uncomfortable, know how you can get the heck outta there quickly. There’s zero shame in a tactical retreat, so check out your surroundings! And you don’t owe them a “goodbye” or an explanation—just leave.

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Post-Date Reflection

After you’re home, think about how it went. Did you feel good about it? Did you have fun and want to see them again? Or do you never want to see them again? There’s no wrong answer—again, trust your gut.

If you’re feeling good about them, great! Just keep your wits about you—even if the first date went swimmingly, they are technically still a stranger.

See Something Sketchy? Say Something!

Ran into someone dodgy or potentially dangerous? Report it to the app you met them on so they can take the proper steps. If it’s more than just a feeling and something criminal happened, call the cops.


Online dating is an amazing way to look for potential romantic partners, but, just like everything else in life, you have to be smart about it! 

And being cautious isn’t being paranoid; it’s being wise. Stay safe, have fun, and who knows, maybe you’ll find your “happily ever after” out there.

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.