Playing with Tinder Boxes: How to Safely Date Online

Careful! It’s a match! : Safety Tips for Online Dating

By: Lum Triny

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With the advancement of technology, humans have found many ways to take advantage of this: from the harvesting of solar energy, to the creation of robots that take your order and serve you food. But we’re not talking about that. Today, we’re talking about the creation of online dating apps such as Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and so on. 

These apps are used to essentially make dating easier, faster, and supposedly more successful as compared to the traditional way of dating and meeting people. I mean, come on? Someone asking for your number at a coffee shop? The last time that happened to me was when I was ordering a Starbucks via the GrabFood app and they asked me for my phone number and IC number to validate my identity. 

Although it is true that dating apps make dating easier and less time consuming, it’s also more dangerous, as many dating apps don’t scan through the many profiles created by it’s users. The only requirement to create a profile is to have a phone that was created in the last decade and has a touchscreen (sorry, grandpa) so the ratio of people who have ill-intentions to people who are just trying to find that special someone, is relatively equal. 

Thanks to my avid use of dating apps (it was for research, okay?!) and testimonials from friends who have tried it, here are some tips on how to safely date online and how to avoid people who mean trouble.

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Tip #1: Vague Details

The foundation to every relationship is to be honest and upfront with your partner. But this isn’t a relationship (yet) and all the honesty can come out when you guys ACTUALLY start dating. But for now, try to keep your personal details relatively vague. When they ask you, “What course are you studying?” you could tell them you do A-Levels and at which college, but never tell them your exact timetable. Other private details such as where you live, what your parent’s names are, and how old your siblings are can wait until you’re 100% sure they’re not a serial killer.

Tip #2: Sanity level

It is important to personally curate a list of questions to ask your current online love interest to test their sanity. Even simple questions such as what they do in their pastime and whether they like animals or not is a good way to test on how unhinged someone might be. (If they don’t like animals, RUN.)

Tip #3: Do your research

You might have watched “How I Met Your Mother” and thought that Ted Mosby’s idea to refrain from doing background checks on each other before a date is “romantic” and “quirky”. It’s not. Yeah, sure, you could argue that he ended up on a date with a fantastic woman, but I could argue back that he could have also been assaulted and murdered, and the show would’ve just ended there. So please, do your research on the person you’re meeting. If they have zero social media presence, be wary.

Tip #4: Friends

Along with background checks on your date, do background checks on their closest friends as well. The company they keep is a good indicator of what kind of person they are. As the saying goes, your vibe attracts your tribe.

Tip #5: Let someone know

This is probably a no-brainer but you should always let someone know about your whereabouts when meeting with someone from an online relationship. Don’t be ashamed to let someone know that you’re going on a date with a person you met online because 1) it’s not a bad way to meet someone and 2) your shame will pale in comparison if you end up being held for ransom by the person you were just on a date with.

Tip #6: Meet somewhere public and during the day

This is something many of us have disregarded but it is still a very important step in ensuring your safety. Don’t ever accept an invitation to their house when everyone is away or to some sleazy bar all the way across town in a secluded and/or unknown area. I mean dude, it ALREADY sounds like the first line of a New York Times’ bestselling Murder Mystery of the Year. And don’t ever be afraid to ask a nearby stranger for help if your date is creeping you out.

Tip #7: Find your own transport

Get a friend to send you to your date venue or take public transport. NEVER let your date know where you live and NEVER allow them to pick you up or send you home unless you 100% trust this person. If you didn’t catch any bad vibes throughout the date and IF they offer to send you home, ask them to drop you off somewhere nearby your place and then get someone to walk you home/pick you up from there. 

Tip #8: Calling and Google voice

Remember when I mentioned how far technology has come? Yeah, Google Voice is a good way to take advantage of that. Google Voice essentially gives you a random phone number that forwards text messages and calls to your phone, without using your actual phone number. This prevents creeps from having your personal phone number and in the event that something bad happens, you won’t have to change your number. It’s also important to voice chat/call before your date. Sometimes your gut intuition can pick up on bad vibes from the way someone talks, even over the phone.

Tip #9: Stay sober

Yeah okay, I hear you, but sometimes is it really worth it? Getting drunk out of your mind around someone you just met in person probably isn’t the best idea. What if they rob you? What if they take photos of you while you’re passed out? WHAT IF THEY DRAW WHISKERS ON YOUR FACE IN PERMANENT MARKER??? In the event that you really can’t help it and get some drinks for yourself, make sure to keep an eye on your cup, be it water, tea, coffee or alcohol. Even water bottles can be opened and spiked. If you ever leave to the bathroom and come back, order a new drink. That RM13 could save you a lot of trouble.

Tip #10: Pepper spray

It’s quite pricey but it’s a good investment even if you’re not online dating. It’s essential that you buy a good one. Don’t leave home without one and don’t feel bad if it expires because it did its job: it kept you safe, even if you didn’t need to use it (you should be thankful that you didn’t). If you can’t afford pepper spray, you could always use a house key, holding it at the base between your index and middle finger. 

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These are just a few tips to serve as a reminder for both newbies and seasoned veterans to online dating. You can never be too safe, and in the words of our Lord and Savior, Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn a.k.a Future:

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