Online dating has skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade, piggybacking off the sea change in public perception of the practice. This has led to more people than ever finding love and a huge increase in visibility for online dating, which can only be a good thing.
However, it’s also meant that the public sensitivity to the negative press has increased with many people perceiving online dating as ‘unsafe’, despite not having taken part in it themselves.
So, is online dating safe, and what steps should you take to ensure your safety? Join us as we take a look.
The History of the Online Dating ‘Safety’ Crisis
We can trace the ‘danger’ narrative around online dating back not only to the earliest days of online dating but to the dawn of the internet itself when fear reigned supreme. After all, how could you really trust anyone, when you couldn’t see or hear them?
The internet had immense promise, but for most people, it was a scary and confusing place, a situation that wasn’t helped by the general lawlessness and high prices of entry. So, when online dating came around, that fear found a new home.
This hunger for scepticism fuelled endless articles and think pieces questioning the motives of those using online dating and the safety of the services, and though tens of millions of lasting relationships have now been formed through these platforms, a lingering perception of online dating as unsafe has lived on.
So, is online dating unsafe?
The answer, with a few exceptions, is no – at least, not any more dangerous than any other dating form.
The vast majority of people on dating websites are just like you, kind-hearted single people looking for love and companionship. However, there are always some people who wish to take advantage of sincerity and profit from the genuine intentions of others.
That’s no different to traditional dating, but because of the popular – fear-driven – narrative, those people have received a disproportionate amount of coverage.
Today, online dating websites feature comprehensive reporting tools, financial fraud protections and a HTTPS support built right into the websites, so you can be confident of your banking information remaining safe.
Staying safe online is easier than it’s ever been before, but there are a few useful tips you should keep in mind if you want to stay perfectly safe. They are:
- Choose an anonymous username. Staying anonymous on your profile means that if a conversation takes an uncomfortable turn, you can leave it behind without fear of it re-emerging on your other social media platforms.
- Meet in a public place. If your conversations have reached a point where you’re both excited about meeting in person, it’s always worth doing so in a public place. If you’re really unsure, why not bring a friend along for a pre-date drink where you can settle into the date and get comfortable?
- Close and report any conversation you feel is manipulating you. As we’ve mentioned, there are always some people who want to ruin a good thing, and scammers do exist (though they’re rare). As such, if you feel like you’re being pressured or tricked into providing your bank details or to send money, close the conversation and report them using the websites reporting tools.