Online Dating Safety Tips

Looking for love on the web? Follow these six easy tips to stay safe

When surfing the web for love, keep these safety tips in mind

When it comes to meeting a potential mate online, be sure to put your health and safety first

One of the keys to being happy in life is having a positive relationship with a significant other. Not long ago, few would admit to having found love online. However, now sites like eHarmony, OKCupid and Plenty of Fish are openly compared among friends, and a recent Leger Marketing/QMI study suggests that one quarter of Canadians have tried online dating.

Romancing in the digital age has changed the nature of relationship building, speeding up the intimacy process and leading many to reveal too much, too soon – sometimes putting their emotional, financial and physical health at risk.

Safe Online Dating Practices

As you’re getting to know your digital darling, slow down and follow these steps for a safe and healthy love connection:

  1. Have your first dates in public places. Share the time, place and expected duration with at least one friend, and arrange to check in afterward. Red flag: Your date pressures you to meet at home.
  2. Don’t give out your full name, address or any phone numbers or e-mails that can be traced to your home or work. Red flag: Your date requests money or personal information.
  3. Don’t drink enough to impair your judgment, and don’t leave your drink unattended. Red flag: Your date pushes you to overindulge.
  4. Don’t share anything you wouldn’t normally tell a stranger. Keep the conversation neutral until you have built a real, in-person relationship. Red flag: Your date tries to create an inappropriate bond too soon, citing an instant spiritual connection.
  5. No matter how long you have been messaging beforehand, be ready to end the meet-up immediately if you feel uncomfortable. Prepare a polite but firm statement to help you cut off contact if anything seems creepy or suspicious. The Intimacy Trap Intimate online sharing and dialogue can create a false sense of closeness and safety. Even if you are both being genuine (something you can’t assume), the feeling of intimacy can lead you to skip basic trust-building steps or even sexual health precautions when you connect in the real world.
  6. Use common sense, be alert for inappropriate behaviour, and practise caution and safe sex regardless of how long you have been “meeting” online.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.