According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of Americans have reported using online dating as it has now become a popular way to meet other people. Research also shows that users in the 18-25 and late 50’s to early 60’s age bracket are increasing their presence in online dating. If you’ve been considering online dating or if you already have a profile, good for you! There is no shame in getting to know others, but it is important that you establish some ground rules and guidelines to attract the right type of person and that you protect yourself from any dangerous or suspicious activity.
For example, be honest in your profile about what you are looking for, what you look like, your background and your personality. Being honest in your profile gives others the courage to be honest about themselves, which lends to a much more authentic friendship or relationship. Psychology Today states to never give out too much personal information – only provide your first name and provide other information as you have met the person face-to-face. Additionally, if you decide to give out your number, go with your cell phone rather than work or home number. Cell phone numbers are much easier to change if needed.
Your first time meeting someone, you want to make sure that you meet in a public place and drive your own vehicle there if you can. Relying on the other person to drive you places you at risk if things don’t go well or if that person isn’t how you were expecting them to be. Appropriate public places may include coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, and more. Let someone else, like a close friend, know of where you will be, who you will be with and what time, just in case.
U.S. News notes to always stay on guard for red flags. For example, if the person’s profile looks too good to be true, it probably is. Like the show Catfish, it is not uncommon for people to post pictures of models or celebrities. If you’re concerned, try to search for the picture by doing a reverse image search through Google Images. Additionally, if your date is asking for money, asking you to send a package to a friend, or anything else that seems suspicious, it may be a scam. Always be weary of people whose stories don’t line up, and if something feels off – such as their language, vibration, or pacing – it probably is. Take precautions to protect yourself both physically and emotionally.
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