How to stay safe when using online dating
Nothing ventured, nothing gained is how the old saying goes. Everything we do involves some level of risk, and we’re generally all prepared to put some skin in the game to get what we want.
But there’s no need to be reckless, and it’s important to be aware of some of the red flags that indicate you may be making unwise choices.
Here’s some simple steps you can take to help minimise the risks associated with online dating.
Keep it public
This may come as a surprise but not everyone is totally honest or authentic when exchanging information on hook-up apps. If the guy that turns up is a different proposition to what you’re expecting, then it’s great to have an easy out.
Try to arrange your first meeting in a cafe or a bar, or somewhere that there’s other people nearby.
If you need to say – thanks, but no thanks – it’s much easier to do that before you’re alone together somewhere.
A good option might be a bathhouse or a gay sauna. That way, you can get down to business pretty quickly but if there’s any issues then you’ve got the venue’s staff on hand.
Tell a friend
While we might often want to keep our sexual escapades on the down-low, if you’re heading out for some fun or arranging a hook-up, it’s important that you let someone know where you are.
You don’t need to give them all the details, but just a quick text to say that you’re meeting a guy in whatever neighbourhood will give you confidence that if there’s any drama then the cavalry won’t be too far away.
Be clear about your expectations
A lot of the drama on hook-up apps seems to happen when people aren’t clear about what they’re looking for. If you just want a no-strings-attached anonymous hook-up, then being up-front about that helps to keep everyone on the same page.
If you would like some repeat business but the other guy isn’t interested, you need to avoid being annoying or harassing them. Take the hint, move on, focus your attention elsewhere.
Whatever you’ve said in your chat on a hook-up app, you’re under no obligation to follow through with any of it, and neither is he.
Even if you’re both naked and in the middle of getting down to business, it’s okay to change your mind and say – actually, I don’t want to do that.
You should never feel forced to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, and obviously you should never pressure anyone to do anything they seem reluctant to do.
Consent is one of the main reasons it’s a good idea to avoid alcohol and other drugs during a hook-up. Keep a clear head. Make good decisions.
Dating apps are a high priority target for scams – particularly relating to identity fraud and financial fraud.
We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re lonely, looking for intimacy, or basing our decisions on sexual desire.
When you’re chatting with someone online, you need to ensure that you’re talking to a real person.
Be cautious when giving out any personal information.
If someone on an online dating app asks you to send them money – no matter how plausible the request – don’t do it. They are scamming you.
Avoid STIs and other viruses
Here’s some hints and tips on how to have some fun while also being mindful about trying to minimise the health risks.
Know where you’re at
Make sure that you’re getting tested regularly so that you can detect and treat any health-related issues.
Also, before heading into a hook-up, reflect on how you’re feeling. Are you experiencing any symptoms that might raise a red flag?
Make sure your vaccination schedule is up to date – the more you can protect your body, the better.
PrEP or TasP
You need to be up to date with the latest information about HIV, and know whether PrEP or TasP is the right path for you.
Keep it clean
However you’re hooking up, hygiene is important. Wash your hands. Have some hand-sanitiser with you. Have a shower when you get home.