Dating online: how to use Internet dating sites and stay safe

How to be safe online is a big subject, because many people have not yet had any or very much experience with Internet dating sites. Many think that one would have to be more vulnerable meeting this way … And there are stories of how women and men have been hurt in various ways by their contacts online.

Concerns about using Internet dating sites …

Some concerns often raised are:

  • On first sight, you cannot verify whether any facts the dating site user is portraying about themselves is true, including the photo and the age.

  • Obviously anyone can happily type along, sharing wrong perceptions they have about themselves and indulge in their dreams about how they wish to conduct themselves in relationships, without being asked for a possibly much-needed reality check.

  • People we meet online are totally unknown to us. They are not introduced by anybody we know who can give us background information and this can make us feel insecure.

  • It is a common perception that most people on Internet dating sites must be desperate or ‘losers’ to resort to this medium because they are unable to find a partner using ‘normal’ channels.

  • There is also a fear that these people only want to squeeze money out of others or are just after easy sex.

On the one hand these are all valid concerns and should be taken seriously.

On the other hand the question is:

Is it possible to successfully use dating sites without being affected by these issues? ... YES, and many do.

How to be safe online:

Regarding security, one of the better sites offers the following suggestions:

  • Do not include any private information in your profile such as addresses and phone numbers.

  • Use a pseudonym, which cannot be connected to your real name.

  • You can choose to have a profile without a photo at first, then supply one later in the process to a particular site user once that feels right to you.

  • You can have a hidden profile which you only reveal to persons of your choosing, thereby being very selective about who you correspond with.

  • In case your connection with a particular person evolves and you decide to leave the site and continue the conversations through private email, it is advisable to get an email address that you only use for your dating and never for anything else.

  • At the time you feel to take the process further to include phone conversations, you can offer to initiate the call. You can then call from a private landline number or make sure your mobile number does not show on your contact’s screen.

  • It is recommended to have your first few face-to-face meetings in public places. For added protection you can park your car around the block and avoid being followed at the end.

  • A strong reminder from many of the sites is to simply never send any money to anybody at any stage.

In addition to these suggestions, we offer the following:

As you are getting to know the other person it works well to ask a lot of personal questions. If you make an effort to remember the answers, after a while you will know whether the stories you hear are consistent, plausible and cohesive. You will notice whether there are any contradictions or the other person is displaying signs of irritability or impatience.

Remember there is no need to reveal your home address, last name or workplace until you feel safe enough to do so.

As one can see, there are many practical things that can be observed to ensure as much protection as possible for the dating site user. If you do stick to them, you will progress more slowly in your dating experience than a lot of others who meet people at parties, at the pub or even clubs, and sometimes without much thinking jump into one-night-stand experiences (possibly even under the influence of alcohol or drugs).

Having said all the above, in addition to the practicalities, it is of paramount importance at all times to be very discerning in regards to the feeling you are having during your exchanges or meetings. If something does not feel right, if the person feels imposing or you are feeling at all nervous, you always have the right to leave. In this process you do not owe each other anything but common courtesy.

In the Internet dating scene, it is acceptable to stop emailing or walk away from meetings without long explanations. The sentences, “Thank you very much for your time. My sense is, we are not a match.” in a friendly voice should at all times be good enough.

If you think about how to be safe online and take all these points into account, using Internet dating sites (correctly) could actually turn out to be one of the safest ways of dating.

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Internet datingAwarenessRelationships

  • By Karin Becker , BA Education

    Karin’s main focus is to support women in all different aspects of their wellbeing. By re-connecting to our deep innate wisdom and love we are opening up an amazing potential.