An expert’s tips on how to have fun and stay safe when meeting people on dating apps in 2021
It’s time dating got a makeover.
Lately, we’ve heard a lot about women’s safety. And for all the media coverage, you’d be forgiven for feeling disheartened about the state of modern dating.
From ‘ghosters’ and ‘time-wasters’ to ‘bread-crumbers’ and ‘submariners’, if dating app vernacular is anything to go by, it’s a complicated and confusing world for modern Australian singles. And that’s especially true for women, who we know are twice as likely to experience harassment when online dating compared to men.
But is it time to give up on dating and ditch dating apps completely?
There are so many opportunities both offline dating and online dating. Whatever way you choose to meet, there are matches to be made and experiences to be had (with 1.7 million Australians currently looking for love online) it is worth joining the masses and exploring dating apps. Before you do however, make sure you have a smart and strategic approach that puts your safety at the forefront. No matter if you’re new to the dating scene or have been on the dating treadmill for a while it pays to be aware and consider the risks and rewards to online dating. Let’s start with:
- Knowing the statistics about online dating safety
- When to start online dating (and when to avoid it)
- 6 tips for safe online dating
- 3 alternatives to online dating
1. STATISTICS ON ONLINE DATING SAFETY
What does the current landscape of online dating look like? Here are the facts.
Broadly, safety online varies greatly depending on the apps, gender, and sexuality of the user. However, men were 60% more likely to consider online dating safe compared to women. Subsequently, more women believed meeting organically would lead to healthier, safer relationships than those formed online. These trends are replicated globally, with half of the US population of online daters saying dating sites are somewhat, or completely, unsafe.
This indicates a stigma that dating apps are less safe and desirable for women, who are more likely to feel vulnerable and at risk of harm when meeting someone online.
2. WHEN YOU SHOULD AND SHOULDN’T DATE ONLINE
Online dating isn’t for everyone. It takes a huge investment of emotion, time, and energy to be successful, so it’s worth weighing up whether it’s the right or approach for you.
Here are some sure-fire indicators you should and shouldn’t set up that profile:
You SHOULD online date when:
- You have high self-worth and emotional intelligence
If you don’t get attached too easily and can handle rejection, you’re emotionally equipped to handle the not-so-bright side of online dating. When you can acknowledge someone’s lack of interest in you is not personal, you’re ready to open yourself up to the possibilities.
- You find it easier to meet online than in real life
If work has been your most committed relationship and you stopped seeing the inside of a bar well before the pandemic, it could be time for you to expand your dating pool. Online dating can be a great way to meet people if you’re prone to anxiety or work to anti-social schedules.
- You’ve exhausted your current dating options
When you can’t bear seeing the same faces at your local hangout, it could be time to explore options beyond your immediate location. Online dating allows you to filter by interests, religion, and age and can be a great way to find a new (or more of your existing) type.
You SHOULD NOT online date when:
- You’re feeling lonely and desperate to be in a relationship
If you want a relationship as soon as possible, you’ll find plenty of eager one-night-stand companions. But online dating takes time (months, if not years), and lasting relationships are formed beyond the screen after multiple dates. If you’re truly feeling lonely, it could be time to hire a professional who can match you with those on the same journey.
- You’re struggling with mental or emotional health
If you’re not feeling well mentally, you can’t put your best foot forward online. You may be extra sensitive or get easily attached, which can cause you to spiral if it all comes to an end. The characteristic highs and lows of online dating are not for the faint of heart, so if your mental health is in question it’s wise to skip the swipe.
- You have an addictive personality
The thrill of the swipe is alluring for many, so if you’re prone to adopting addictive (not-so-productive) habits, avoid setting up a profile. If online dating is likely to interfere with your work, health, and social commitments, online dating may not be for you.
3. 6 TIPS FOR ONLINE DATING SAFETY
- Only meet in public
End the date where you start it. Whether it’s the first, second, or third day, meet in a public space where other people are present. Even as an adult, stranger danger still applies, so better yet, tell someone where you’re going and have them as your go-to contact for the date. This way, if the night goes south you’ll have plenty of people to turn to.
- Do not accept a lift
People can be anyone online, so avoid those first date nerves by making your own way to the date location. Make your transport preferably by car, a lift from a friend, or rideshare to ensure you have a set way to and from the date.
- No ‘Netflix and chill’
With 60% of all sexual assaults occurring at residential locations, as appealing as a night in can be, it’s best to meet up at a mutual location amongst other people. A date should be fun and relaxed with an exit strategy in place if things are not feeling right.
- Limit the alcohol
We know alcohol can boost confidence and reduce inhibitions, but it can also cloud our judgment. And as almost 50% of sexual assaults occur when alcohol is present, it’s best to limit the tipple to one or two glasses.
- Take your time
Avoid rushing the process. Be it sexual advances, staying the night, or simply feeling obligated to go on the 3rd, 4th or 10th date!. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into anything you don’t want to do. By following the above steps you should have a safe ‘out’ if things go in an undesirable direction.
- Be prepared to report
As scary as this can be, reporting any unwanted advances or assaults from strangers you’ve met online will help save others. The eSafety commissioner has detailed how to recognise these ‘bad eggs’ when online dating before it even gets to this stage. That includes:
- Cheaters – often married or in a relationship with a wandering eye and secretive nature
- Players – looking for one night stands and present on multiple apps at once
- Predators – wanting a short-term partner or even worse preying on unsuspecting victims with ill intent
- Profile liars – lying about their age, hobbies, location, or interests in order to manipulate your feelings and interest in them
- Scammers – asking for money or other items before even meeting
3. 3 SAFER WAYS TO MEET SOMEONE/DATE ONLINE
Remember, online dating is an incredible way to expand the dating pool, and one bad experience doesn’t mean they all have to be!
But if you’re not quite ready to make your profile live, here are some great offline ways to meet a potential partner:
- Friends and family
Another great way to meet a partner is through a friend or relative who can vouch for the both of you. Often, they can see commonalities that could form a great relationship. All you need to do is be open to a blind date!
You outsource your cleaning, cooking, and maintenance. Why not outsource your dating? If you’re serious about meeting someone, work with a matchmaker. They have a pool of vetted matches and can instantly partner you with high-quality connections. View my matchmaking services here.
- Learning something new
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to surf or cook an irresistible pavlova. Join a class where there are likely to be people your age and gender preference. You’ll not only pick up a new hobby but potentially a partner too!
Remember that one bad dating experience doesn’t mean all of them are! With apps here to stay in a world where we live and love online, it’s all about keeping alert. By following these six tips you keep enjoying the thrills and possibilities dating apps bring while staying safe.
And if you’re ready to explore beyond the apps? Get on the waitlist and be the first to receive my new eBook, featuring 25 of the best places to meet someone ‘in the wild’. Go to https://www.louannewardmatchmaking.com.au/blog/ and join the list.