Dating apps are a great way to connect with people, but meeting a complete stranger comes with the very real side effect of Stranger Danger. Plus, with personal information more accessible than ever, you never know who might use it for the wrong reasons. Next time you’re swiping or meeting a match for the first time, follow these five steps to ensure your safety.
Check Your Own Profiles
This seems obvious. Yet sometimes we forget just how much you can find out about someone online. It’s crazy what information you can learn about someone just from knowing a few details about them. Check your privacy settings every so often. Be careful linking your social media to dating apps, especially if your social media channels are public.
Be Careful What You Share
While you might not be able to control someone seeing where you live based on a geotag from a post your friend tagged you in, giving out personal information is completely voluntary. Saying you grew up in California, were the oldest child, and played sports your whole life is one thing. Telling what neighborhood your parents live in, that your roommates are gone a lot so you’re in an empty house often, and the place and time you workout could potentially be dangerous info to give somebody.
Always Meet in Public First
It doesn’t matter how much you believe your date doesn’t have Dexter-like tendencies, MEET IN PUBLIC. Don’t meet at their house first, or have them pick you up at your place. If they aren’t comfortable with that arrangement, that’s a big red flag. (First date inspiration: mini golf features a public place, and a defense weapon if necessary.)
4. Let Someone Know Your Plans
Before you grab dinner and drinks with someone you met on dating apps, let a roommate or friend know what you’re doing and where you’re going. You could put a quick text in a group message so multiple people know. This way if anything happens, you have people who know where you were supposed to be. My friends and I use Find My Friends to share our locations with each other. This comes in handy for safety, knowing if someone is still at work, or just near a Chick-fil-A to bring some home for me — as you can see, it’s a necessary download.
5. Stalk (A Little)
Everyone knows if you stalk too much you have to fake not knowing things about your date. “Oh you studied abroad one semester? I’m so shocked and didn’t know this before and haven’t checked all the pics from the trip, plus the ones you were tagged in, and scrolled through that girl’s feed that you were standing close to in that one post…”
So hold off on diving too deep until you meet in person, because it’s way more genuine and interesting to learn about someone in person. However, do a little investigation. If you have any mutual connections, check with them to make sure you’re talking a real, responsible human being.