If you’re thinking of finding your next bae on social media or a dating app, there are some safety precautions you should keep in mind. Here’s our advice.

Think before you send

When you’re vibing with someone online, it can be easy to send things their way- sometimes, without even thinking. Some things you send them (such as the name of your favourite song) are harmless. But other info (such as your phone number, home address, etc.) aren’t a good idea to send. Such private information can be used to find you in real life, which can be dangerous when it comes to online dating.

Be mindful of the photos you send when dating online. We don’t recommend sending suggestive photos or nudes. Even if you trust the person and you’re sending it via a private message, it’s still not worth taking the risk. Such photos can end up in the wrong hands, or be shared without your consent (this is known as revenge porn).

Check their identity

If you doubt that the person you’re chatting to is who they say they are, you can ask them to send you a selfie where they’re doing something specific (such as holding up a spoon or a peace sign). You could also ask for a video chat, so that you can see and hear that they’re legit. Some dating apps actually verify people’s identities as well, which is a good layer of security but even so it’s always good to check for yourself.

Don’t feel bad about doing this- a trustworthy person will be patient and answer your questions. If they refuse to send you proof of who they are or keep finding ways to avoid the topic, this can be a red flag that they’re catfishing you.

Meeting the person

If you do decide to eventually meet the person you’ve been chatting to, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to stay safe. Always make sure you’re meeting in a public place, and arrange your own transport to the meeting place and back. If they offer to pick you up, politely decline and let them know you’ll meet them there.

It may also be a good idea to bring a friend with- you can let the person you’re meeting know about this beforehand, so that they can also bring a friend if they choose to.

You should also make sure you’re on the same page as them. While some people use dating apps to meet new people and get into a relationship, others are just on there to “hook up”. Clarifying their intentions (and letting them know yours) is good to do before you meet up in person, so that you can avoid any awkward situations.

Finally, be sure that you’re feeling confident about meeting the person. If your gut feeling is not to meet them or they’re showing red flags of being toxic, don’t meet up with them.

Dating online can be fun and exciting, but it’s important to take things slow and be cautious at first, until you’ve really gotten to know the person. Don’t feel silly about taking your safety seriously- it’s always worth it in the end.

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