Online dating was once thought to be something that only socially awkward adults living in their parents’ basements did. Today, it’s a massive industry with millions of “normal” participants. But if you choose to utilize online dating, your mental health and physical safety are extremely important.
5 Tips for Safe and Healthy Online Dating
Your parents probably think online dating is weird. They’ll tell you stories about how the only proper way to ask someone out on a date is to meet them and ask in person. You, on the other hand, feel like online dating is totally normal and entirely safe. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.
If you want to be safe and healthy with online dating, you must also be conscientious. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with online dating. However, any time you open yourself up to strangers on the internet, there’s a possibility that something could go wrong.
Here’s some advice on how to protect yourself – physically and emotionally.
1. Choose Online Dating Platforms Wisely
The first step is to choose the right online dating platform. There are a lot of websites and apps on the marketplace, so you’ll need to do your due diligence and analyze the pros, cons, and features of each.
If you’re genuinely interested in dating, you have to be careful to avoid “hookup” sites where the expectations of users are largely centered on quick sex. A lot of these exist and you probably don’t want to get mixed up with them. Instead, choose a service like Zoosk, which is more centered on building healthy relationships between serious, committed partners.
2. Do Research on Dates
Once you find a potential date, do some research on the individual. While most people are honest and genuine, there are some people who use dating platforms to take advantage of others.
One of the first things you should do is make sure the individual is who they say they are. As health blogger Laura McMullen writes, “It’s not uncommon for folks to snatch photos of models, celebrities, or just regular people and post them as their own. If you’re suspicious, try a reverse image search via Google Images to see if the photos are posted elsewhere.”
3. Meet in a Public Space
When you meet someone online, you’ll need to be on guard the first couple of dates. You simply don’t know who you’re meeting and don’t want to put yourself in a position where you could end up getting hurt. This is why dating experts suggest meeting in a very public place – such as a park, restaurant, or public event.
4. Let a Friend Know
Always let a trusted friend know when you’re going on a first date with someone you met online. You may even ask them to check in on you with a quick phone call or text during your date. This puts your mind at ease and gives you an “out” if you need one.
5. Take Things Slowly
Relationships experts always advise taking things slow – whether you’ve known your dating partner for years, or if this is your first time meeting. Jumping into a sexual or romantic relationship right away can feel right, but often causes emotional and relational issues down the road. Get to know each other before taking things to the next level.
Online Dating is Here to Stay
Online dating isn’t going anywhere. If anything,
it’s going to become more popular in the coming years as a new generation of
young people enter the dating world. So, instead of avoiding online dating
altogether, the better strategy might be to embrace it in a healthy mann