I’ve had a lot of success with online dating, and I’m not alone. About 40% of the population uses dating sites to cure their “single and looking” status. Yet despite this, many people still seem confused by the whole idea. Many of my friends will ask me over drinks, a look of badly-hidden judgement and incredulity on their faces, “Is online dating safe?” The answer I usually give is that every online dating site is a safe online dating site if you follow a few rules:
1. Investigate the informal culture and reputation of any new dating website you join.
Most of us know that EHarmony is for marriage, Match.com is where people who secretly love Tinder but hate the guys on Tinder go, Tinder is for hooking up, and OkCupid is for nerds. How do we know this? Word of mouth. The first step to identifying a safe dating site is finding a dating site that attracts the kind of people on your level. Always ask around before making a profile. And in speaking of profiles…
2. Never reveal anything about yourself on a dating site that you wouldn’t tell a stranger on a bus over casual conversation.
It can be hard to figure out where the line is when it comes to talking about yourself with somone you meet on a dating site. One rule that’s kept me solid so far and contributes to my safe online dating site lifestyle is that I never tell someone I’m chatting with online things that aren’t public knowledge. So my name? Sure. My address? Absolutely not, but maybe the general neighborhood. My birthday? A lady never reveals her exact age. If I like mint chocolate chip ice cream? I tell everyone that. My phone number? It takes me a long time to give this out. Like usually after the second date or so. Luckily, mobile dating apps make this a less awkward rule now.
3. Read the terms and conditions!
What you reveal doesn’t just extend to your matches. You also should carefully read any online dating site’s rules and terms to make sure that they are a safe online dating site. For example, do they reserve the right to sell your login information to telemarketers? Probably don’t join them! Do they charge a fee of some sort? Make sure that fee is paying for communication and not security — the protection of your personal information should be free. Does the site have good privacy setting options and ways to block troublesome users? All of these are important questions.
4. Don’t let your guard down after the first in-person meet.
I know a lot of girls who follow the safe online dating site rules before a first meet-up, and them boom! It all goes out the window the minute they get wings with some rando. I don’t know what it is — maybe they’re one of the 38% of girls who actually like nice guys and see them wherever they look until the guy proves otherwise. But it is generally not good policy to give out your address and personal information after an hour of beer fueled conversation. (And anyway, I’m of the opinion that proving worthiness requires more than a paid bar tab). Also, for the love of mint chocolate chip ice cream — don’t show your face in R rated pics. Just…ever.