Online dating safely

We've all heard about the importance of being safe online, but being safe DATING online is a whole new ballpark. With the number of people hitting the apps rising how can you make sure you're swiping safely?

rose on a laptop

These petals are inconvenient.

Issues with online dating

The main problems with online dating are pretty obvious. You never truly know who you’re speaking to, people can easily fool you and you can’t get to know someone properly unless you meet them in person.

However, there are so many different platforms on which people can find love (or just a shag), that each one can come with its own set of problems. To break it down we’ve listed the main problems you might face trying to find that special someone using dating websites, apps and social media.

Apps and Websites

There are so many dating apps available now that we cannot keep up. Tinder, Happn, and even Coffee Meets Bagel, just to name a few. There is, quite literally, an app for whichever gender, sexuality or need you have. Dating websites, like OkCupid, and PlentyOfFish have been around since the internet was foetal, so in theory they should be the oracle in online dating. However, you might come across problems such as:

  • Motivation: People use dating apps/websites for different reasons. Some want a quick shag, some want a rebound, and some want marriage, house and kids within three weeks. Don’t assume that everyone is on your wavelength. Communicate your desires truthfully otherwise things could get messy.


  • Flirting: Some people like to test out their ‘flirting techniques’ on innocent users on dating apps/websites. Be prepared for some terrible chat-up lines and worse. If you feel in danger or unsafe, report the user immediately.


  • Gameplay: Using a dating app can be very much like playing a game, what with all the swiping and scrolling and … slaying? I mean, it’s only a matter of time until dragons and unicorns are featured in dating apps. Some people don’t take it seriously and it may be easy to fall into the trap of not seeing other users as real human beings. Don’t be a dick. Play nicely.


  • Lying: People lie online. We know that but, ironically, dating apps/websites go against everything we’re told as kids. Be wary that people may not be as they seem, even down to edited photos and leaving out information from their profile, such as putting ketchup in the fridge. Never date someone who puts ketchup in the fridge.


Social media

Yep, as well as social media being used to keep in touch with real life friends and secretly publish your raunchy fanfic, it can also be a place to meet new friends by live tweeting Eurovision together, validating of your selfies and appreciating of your previously mentioned raunchy fanfic. Sometimes, these friendships can turn into more.

The positive part of dating through social media is that it is usually an unexpected surprise. People are more natural, allowing you to see more of their personality. But, it comes with its own issues:

  • Be sensible: If you’re going to meet up with someone new in real life, however you met them online first, be sensible. Tell at least one person you trust who you are meeting, and where and when you are meeting them (meet somewhere in public). Maybe even FaceTime or Skype beforehand so you can be 90% sure they are who they’ve said they are.


  • Distance: Ending up in a long-distance relationship thanks to social media is a lot more likely than finding someone through dating apps/websites due to their location specification. You could end up head over heels for someone in Brazil and we don’t think EasyJet fly there just yet.


  • Intentions: So you’ve moved on from mildly flirtatious tweets and now they’ve slid into your DMs. You’re feeling special and important and like this might actually go somewhere. But, you might not know their true intentions so stay vigilant, and make sure you communicate your own wants and needs.


We’re not going to patronise you with internet safety jargon and we don’t want to put you off the fun yet risky minefield that is online dating. But being aware of the above issues, and being sensible, honest, and fair with your amorous adventure, may help you sift the dicks from the delights. Happy swiping!

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.


Updated on 15-Jan-2016

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