Are you thinking of embarking on a digital matchmaking experience and letting the algorithms find the love of your life? Well, 40 million Americans are exploring online dating. Tinder alone is claiming 2 billion matches. So, why not give online dating a try?

As with any digitally-enabled experience, online dating also comes with its own set of risks. In 2018 alone, online romance scams reportedly cost people a $143 million, ahead of any other type of reported scam.

But you can still take measures to safeguard yourself and pursue online dating to meet the right person for a meaningful relationship. The below step-by-step guide will help ensure your safety and security during your online dating experience every step of the way.

1. Select the right dating site for you

There are a multitude of online dating sites available in the market, each offering different features. So ensure that you browse around before selecting one. Do an in-depth comparison of their privacy settings, the process for verification of identities before registration, data and privacy policies as well as policies and procedures on reporting and taking action on any suspicious behavior. All of these will help you determine and select a safer online dating experience.

2. Best practices for signing up

Avoid signing up using your social media profile to prevent it from getting linked to your dating site profile. Most dating sites will disclose upfront which details they will access from your social media pages and display on your dating profile. However, you simply cannot be certain of what other information is accessed to refine their profile matching process. And in the event of a data breach, it will put you at risk of divulging your personal details. So, avoid this unnecessary risk by setting up a new email address just for the dating site signing up process.

3. Safely setting up your profile

Once you sign up, next comes that all-important step of setting up your profile.

Be cautious not to divulge information that could reveal your identity. Don’t give out your second name, location or your contact details like phone number or email address. Don’t provide access to your social media profiles and be careful not to upload photos that are already used in online platforms. Reverse image lookups are quite common today and can easily reveal your personal details. Carefully select photos that do not reveal any identifiable details of your home or workplace or any other places that you usually hangout such as a gym or a pub. 

4. Get to know the matched profiles

Once you have gone through the matched profiles, it’s time to select someone that you would like to pursue. Ensure that you carry out a background screening to verify details shared, and to get some more insights beyond what is displayed on their dating profile.

People search sites like Nuwber can help you with a comprehensive background search and verification using a simple piece of detail such as an email address or a phone number. You can also check their social media profiles to find out more about their social activities.

5. Set up safe communication channels

Always use the dating site’s messaging system for communications. When it’s time to progress to a voice call, keep a separate phone to avoid using your personal number. There are also plenty of websites like Skype that offer temporary phone numbers.

6. Safety in communications

Accidentally revealing personal information can easily happen during one-on-one conversations than in messaging. You need to think on your feet and be quick to filter details that could potentially divulge too much of your identity. It’s still too early to fully determine the real intentions of the person behind the screen. So keep your social profiles, contact details, and location private.

7. Watch out for telltale signs

Now that you have had the opportunity to have a few conversations, this is a great time to identify any warning signals. Is the person too inquisitive, are they asking too many questions, probing into your personal details, attempting to find out sensitive information, seem too curious, or asking seemingly strange questions? Does something seem peculiar? Do you find that things he says don’t add up or are contradicting?

You have had enough interactions now to answer these questions.

8. Precautions for a safe meet up

So, if all goes well and you are both interested in finally meeting, there are a few measures you need to consider to ensure your safety.

Always meet the first few times in a public place to ensure that you are surrounded by people. The more people see you, the better your safety. Avoid sharing transportation to and back from the date. Again take caution not to reveal too much of yourself. Make sure your phone is charged and don’t leave it out of your sight. Plan the date ahead of time to avoid any surprises and ensure that you don’t digress from it. Make sure you have a ride back and avoid letting him call a cab for you.

9. Build your safety net

Keep a close friend or two informed of your date and share his name, contact details and if possible his dating profile. Ensure that your friends are aware of your meeting place and when you are hoping to get back home.

It’s also wise to drop a text or two during the date to keep them informed of how things are going. Make sure that you share anything peculiar or disturbing.

10. Don’t rush things and take it slow

While the reason for dating is to get to know each other, the importance of ensuring your safety and security is always priority number one.  When you are attracted to a person it is natural to become impatient to get to know each other better. You may find that you both have so much in common and it may feel as if you already know the person. But much of these can be manipulated if your personal details get into the hands of the wrong person.

So take time to get to know each other and you’ll be surprised how meaningful and fulfilling a relationship could be as you take things slow.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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