Is online dating safe?

Making sure you don’t give out your credit card details to some sketchy shop online is pretty much standard at this point. But what happens when a really cute person wants those deets to reserve a restaurant for your date? How can you make sure you're swiping safely? Is online dating safe? The Mix explains.

A young woman is on her phone where there is a man in the foreground watching her.

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What are the problems with online dating?

The main problems with online dating are pretty obvious. You never truly know who you’re speaking to. Everyday it’s becoming easier and easier to catfish people (trick them into thinking you’re someone you’re not). And you can’t really get to know someone properly unless you meet them in person. Problem is – that’s not exactly following safety tips. Not to mention, there are so many different platforms on which people can find love (or just a shag), each with their own unique set of problems. 

To make it a little more manageable, we’ve listed the main problems you might face when using dating websites, apps and social media.

Online dating apps and websites

There are so many online dating sites and apps available now that we can’t really figure out whether online dating is safe or not. Tinder, Happn, and even Coffee Meets Bagel, just to name a few. There is, quite literally, an app for whichever gender, sexuality or kink you have. Dating websites, like OkCupid, and PlentyOfFish have been around since the internet was still in utero (so to speak). Surely, this means that they should be the oracle in online dating. Well…not exactly. You might still 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 just assume that everyone is on there with the same goal. And make sure you communicate your own motivations clearly to any potential partners. Otherwise things could get messy.
  • Flirting: Some people like to test out their ‘flirting techniques’ on unsuspecting matches. So you best be prepared for some terrible chat-up lines and even worse. That being said, if you ever feel in danger or unsafe, report the user immediately.
  • Gameplay: Using a dating app can be very much like playing a game. Think about it – there’s swiping and scrolling and … slaying? Jokes aside, some people don’t take them seriously. This can mean that it’s easy to fall into the trap of not seeing other users as real human beings. All we can say is try not to be a dick.
  • Lying: People lie online. That’s just the sad truth of the world. Be wary that people may not be as they seem. They can edit photos and leave out personal details on their dating profile, such as pouring milk before putting in the cereal. Never date someone who pours the milk first.

Online dating on social media

Yep, you read that right. On top of 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 while bonding over your shared love of Ted Lasso. And who knows…it might end up turning into more.

The positive part of dating through social media is that it’s usually an unexpected surprise. People are more natural. This means that you’ll get to see more of their personality. But, there are a few things you should be aware of:

  • Be sensible: If you’re gonna meet up with someone new IRL, make sure you take some precautions. Regardless of whether or not you feel comfortable with them. Tell at least one friend or family member who you’re meeting as well as where and when you are meeting them. Stick to meeting in public on your date and stay in public for the duration of the date. Maybe even FaceTime or Skype before the date so that you can be at least 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. This is largely because of the latter’s location specification. You could very well end up head over heels for someone in Brazil. But we don’t think EasyJet fly there just yet. Read this article for some long distance relationship tips before you make any big decisions.
  • Intentions: So you’ve moved on from mildly flirtatious subtweets and now they’ve slid into your DMs. You’re feeling special and important. Like this might actually go somewhere. We hate to burst your bubble but you still don’t really know who this person is. So stay vigilant. Don’t give out any personal details like your phone number. Never send them money. Make sure you communicate your own wants and needs. And block them if you ever feel unsafe or start feeling uncomfortable.

How to safely date online

So, is online dating safe? We’re not gonna put you off it with horrific stories like Tinder Swindler. At the same time, we’re not gonna tell you to just go for it – consequences be damned. You’re just gonna have to use your own judgement. That being said, if you follow our advice above about how to safely date online a.k.a be sensible, honest, and fair, it may help you separate the dicks from the delights. Happy swiping!

Some people even find love on our discussion boards, head here to check them out.

Next Steps

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 24-Jun-2022