Online dating has become much more than a trend over the past decade thanks to the many advantages it offers, as well as the positive results it has shown. Virtual communication has opened the door to meeting people from all over the world, which has broadened the chances and hopes for finding a soulmate.
For many people, online dating has become a much easier and more comfortable way of meeting people with similar interests, as well as a chance to spare themselves of the well-known awkwardness first dates and blind dates often involve.
However sketchy online dating may sound to some, many couples have shared their romantic stories that started as online dating. Reading about long-lasting relationships and marriages that started with texting, as well as hearing more and more first-hand experiences with successful online dating is the seed of true opportunity that keeps this trend alive and growing.
So, can online dating truly be a path to love? The answer is yes, but as everything that sounds too good to be true, online dating also has its downsides, which can be even dangerous to underestimate. Due to frequent suspicious activity and risks that come with meeting people online, everyone with an online dating profile should be familiar with some safety precautions.
The seemingly comfortable distance of dating online is compensated with other difficulties that await anyone who embarks on this journey. When you finally find your “match”, after hours and days of texting and getting to know each other, the question remains – who is really the person behind the profile picture, the messages, and even the voice you are hearing?
The biggest catch with online dating is the fact that however honest and picky you are, you always remain uncertain about who the person behind the screen is. Around four-fifths of all dating-service users lie on their profiles.
This uncertainty is present even in live dating, as a friendly face can be a camouflage for something sinister. When it comes to online dating, it’s much easier to hide one’s true intentions – from easily communicating false information to using a fake profile to create a person that does not even exist.
Therefore, enjoying the benefits of online dating goes hand in hand with raising awareness about the ways it can be, and unfortunately often is abused. More than half of people using online dating services are already in relationships (12% are married), do you really want to get tangled up with someone who’s already lying to their significant other? Around ten percent of sex offenders regularly use dating platforms and three percent of users are genuine psychopaths.
Being serious about online dating means being attentive and cautious, educating yourself about suspicious behaviors and possible red flags, as well as becoming familiar with safety precautions. The UK’s National Crime Agency reports that crime related to online dating has grown up to 450% over the course of five years, so now is not the time to be careless.
As a rule, you want to avoid giving out personal information to someone you just met in real life, let alone online. Wait a bit until you genuinely feel safe before you share your social media profiles. Later on, as you build trust, you can consider giving other information.
As a corollary, if you’re not comfortable sharing personal information you definitely don’t want to send money to someone you don’t even know. This is a popular con, used by people who will want to prey on your trust and it’s a major red flag.
Once you’ve exchanged social media info, you can use it to check up on a person you’ve been talking to. Be on the lookout for telltale signs of fake profiles and if anything is giving you a bad vibe, hit that eject button. Block and report functions exist for a reason.
If you feel serious about the person you’re getting to know online, but can’t manage to find out more about them, and/or can’t meet in person for one reason or another, hiring a private investigator can be an excellent way to put your doubts to rest, or possibly save you from a whole world of trouble. Don’t hesitate to use this option – you can never be too safe and with the growth of online dating platforms more and more people rely on PIs to do the legwork and ensure their prospective dates are who they say they are.
Once you do decide to meet up, do so at a public, crowded place. Also, don’t forget to inform your family and friends about where you are going and when you’re coming back, just in case something goes wrong. Another common precaution is to figure out a codeword or schedule a time when you’re gonna check in and let someone know if things are going well.
Even if everything is going well, don’t get carried away on your first date. Before the meeting, set boundaries that will keep you safe until the end of your date. For instance, don’t drink too much; and never agree to go to your date’s house on your first date, stick to public places.
We hear more and more love stories that started as online dating and grew into long-lasting relationships, but online dating sites can be a pleasant experience only if used right. Being extra cautious and selective when it comes to choosing people, revealing information, and especially meeting your date in person can make a difference between a love story and a nightmare.