You don’t have to search too far to find stories of online dating or hook-up apps gone wrong. Becoming the victim of a serial killer is probably at the extreme end of the risk spectrum, but it has happened. Being cat-fished seems to be fairly common, but incidences of fraud, robbery, and assault happen too regularly to be ignored.
Whatever you do in life involves some element of risk, but it makes sense to exercise a bit of caution and, where possible, mitigate the known risks.
Here’s some tips on how to get the best out of online dating without putting your personal safety at risk.
Look for warning flags
If you’re chatting with someone online and navigating the early stages of a meeting or a hook-up, be on the look-out for anything that might make you extra cautious. Are they being aggressive, or pushy. Are they suggesting something that you don’t feel comfortable with. How do they respond to your suggestions?
Have your first meeting in a public place
There’s nothing wrong with suggesting that you meet for the first time in a public place. Even if you’re pretty sure that you’re going back to his place for a quick hook-up, it makes sense that you meet up at first in a bar or somewhere public just to ensure that you’ve got an easy out if something doesn’t feel right.
Let your friends know
You could easily frame it as a #HumbleBrag, but if you’re meeting up with someone knew it’s common sense to let someone know what you’re doing. You don’t have to share all the specific if you don’t want to, but a quick text to let someone know that you’re heading out to meet someone new is a smart idea.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
You’re under no obligation to meet up with anyone that you’ve been chatting with online. If they’re trying to bully you into anything, just end the conversation. If you get there and things feel a bit weird, simply make your excuses and leave. There’s no shame in that, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about – it’s a smart move.
Report any problems
There might be reasons why you don’t want to get the police involved if you’ve had a hook-up that’s gone wrong. But if you can, it’s a good idea to file a report with the police. If you’ve been robbed, if you’ve been assaulted, if you met up with someone and they set off alarm bells – filing a complaint with the police not only empowers you to take control of that situation but could potentially help other people who might also be potential victims.