The first online dating site domain was registered over 20 years ago in 1995. Online dating is now a $3 billion dollar industry with over 59 million users according to Dating Site Reviews.
Online dating can be overwhelming, confusing and sometimes downright dangerous!
My mom shared horror stories with me from Craigslist murders to date rapes that scared me but also made me think carefully about the way I interacted and what I shared online. I would like to share a few tips and pieces of advice with you as you navigate the world of online dating.
Review Profiles Carefully
This may sound silly, but I think it is a huge point of concern when a dating profile only has one picture. It’s a red flag because anyone can copy and paste a single picture to an online dating profile. I looked for pictures in a variety of settings. Only selfies? Eww, that’s just a huge turnoff!
I would check to see if someone had categorized themself as a “Christian”. My faith is important to me and I wanted to find someone that shared those same beliefs and values. Yet I quickly discovered that “Christian” meant many things to many people. Sometimes it meant their faith was nothing more than a checkmark or was a piece of their past but not a relationship with God they were currently investing in.
When I went on dates with those type of guys and asked questions about their faith or church attendance the most common response I heard was “Oh yeah, I should probably start going to church again.” I appreciated their honesty and genuine reply. However, it didn’t match with what I was looking for. Then I started reading the bio paragraphs more closely, choosing to go on dates with guys that wrote about God, Jesus or their faith. I figured if they were willing to mention their faith in the short paragraph with limited characters, it was an important part of their life.
Meet Him at the First Date Location
I would never let a stranger pick me up at my home address. Hello common sense! Not only do I not want to give out my address but if the date isn’t going well I want the freedom to leave.
I remember when a guy wanted to pick me up for our second date. We did not meet online but were introduced through mutual friends and had many more friends in common. I appreciated his willingness to be a chivalrous gentleman, but I was still nervous giving out my address to a man I had met only once. With that said let’s move on to the next piece of advice about your personal safety.
Protect Your Personal Information
Please do not readily give out your personal information to someone you don’t know well (or haven’t even met)! While getting to know someone I would share vague pieces of information about what I did for my career but not the specifics of where. I advise you not to share details of where you work or where you live through the interwebs. We live in a broken world with creeps that intend to harm, hurt or take advantage of innocent women. Use your wisdom, discernment and your best judgement.
Here are some practical suggestions of what to do if/when you do meet for a date:
- Park close in a well lit area.
- Carry your keys in your hand as you walk back to your car. (Then you won’t have to stand outside your car searching for your keys. I do this even when I walk back to my car from the grocery store).
- Limit the amount of alcohol you intake. Alcohol can lower inhibitions and cloud your judgement.
- Keep your drink in view and not let it out of sight.
- If you feel unsafe or threatened ask a manager to escort you as you walk you back to your car.
- PSA: If you’re ever in an unsafe situation and need to call the police, hit your iPhone’s lock button (on the side) quickly 5 times to secretly call 911.
I share these tips from personal experience. Even though I regularly practiced these recommendations in my online dating season I still had my safety threatened. There was one occurance when I let a guy walk me to my car parked a few blocks away. As we went from the well lit street to the shady sidewalk he grabbed me and forcefully made out with me (he had alot to drink). In hindsight, when he asked me if he could walk me to my car I should have said no. Sadly, that is not the end of the story. Once we got to my car he asked for a ride to his apartment a few minutes away. After what just happened I should have told him to walk or get an Uber (or jump in a creek). Unfortunately, I didn’t. I drove him to his apartment building. As he said goodbye he was pushy, aggressive and physically inappropriate. He even asked me to come up to his place and watch a movie (and I knew he didn’t want to just “watch a movie”). Ladies, this was a guy who marked his religion as “Christian” on his profile.
I don’t want to share this information to scare you or give you a spirit of fear. But I do want to provide valuable information so you can make good choices to guard your heart, defend your safety and protect your security. Please, please, please share this information with the women in your life!
Online dating is a forum to meet new people and I know many happy couples that met on a dating app, including myself. So if you choose to look for a special someone online please use wisdom. Remember to carefully review profiles, always meet him at the location (do not let him pick you up) and protect your personal information.