The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually every aspect of our society — even how we date. It has disrupted norms causing many people to pause their search for love in the physical world. As a result, many have turned to online dating apps and websites in the hopes of finding their other half. Platforms like Tinder, Bumble, Ok Cupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Plenty of Fish have seen a considerable surge in their numbers.
And while this means that you now have seemingly more chance at finding love, it also means that you need to be more cautious! Thus, to help you navigate the online dating scene effectively, we have come up with five unwritten rules for online dating:
- Remember to protect your privacy
One of the most significant issues when it comes to online dating is putting your privacy at risk. Many apps and websites secretly collect data and share it with third parties — from demographics and I.P. addresses to past search queries and articles you buy online.
Thus, to avoid falling victim to these practices, you need to protect your privacy. A VPN service that encrypts your online information when using dating apps or public Wi-Fi hotspots is an inexpensive and effective way to do so.
There are also other more tangible risks like being catfished or falling victim to a predator. So, another great way to protect your privacy is by limiting sensitive information such as home/work address, financial information, or details that could put you in harm’s way.
- Do not send explicit photos
While online dating, you might be tempted to send nudes or explicit photos or videos of yourself to “spice things up.” And while it can seem fun and exciting, you need to know that these images are never private.
As you might already know, anyone can screenshot and save what you send – even if you think you are using a private network or a temporary message app like Snapchat. And once a photo is shared online, you have lost all control over it.
Hence, to avoid getting yourself into an uncomfortable situation, avoid sending explicit photos. Or, if you must do so, evade showing your face to protect yourself from the risk of abuse or exploitation.
- Never judge someone based on their online dating profile!
Remember, people you meet online are not always who they claim to be. As InfoWorld reports, attackers have long used social networking as part of their reconnaissance activities. So, it is not uncommon for predators and hackers to create fake dating profiles to lure people in as a means to scam them.
Scam artists tend to take advantage of their victims’ emotions, and victims may be all the more vulnerable to this type of scam when going through isolation.
Beware of anyone who:
- Asks to chat outside the app
- Insists to be from your country but is currently traveling, living, or working abroad
- Demands you for money, gifts, or credit card information
- Sends you emails containing dubious links to third-party websites
Be as cautious and prudent in your online dating life as you are in your in-person dating life.
- Update apps and anti-virus software periodically
If you are using a dating app or website, make sure it is always up to date. In most instances, updates are suggested when the platform is having security issues. “Bug fixes” are, in most cases, a way for developers to justify breaches.
Therefore, if you are continually checking for updates, you are also protecting your information.
More so, you must keep your anti-virus up to date when visiting online dating websites. Internet security software cannot protect you against every threat, but it will detect and remove most malware.
- Play it safe
When meeting a date in person for the first time, make sure you take all necessary precautions:
- Let a friend or family member know when and where you are going
- Always meet in a public place
- Restrain your date from picking you up or dropping you off at your house
- Consider using public transport or your vehicle to get to and from the date
Online dating has many risks, but it can also be an excellent medium to meet people outside your circle. Thus, do not get discouraged! On the contrary, now that you know the dangers of online dating, you can apply these tips to have a more effective and pleasant dating experience.
Data shows that daily messaging activity among the apps has risen and that couples are now “more likely to form a relationship through online dating than any other avenue.” After all, according to The Knot magazine, 22% of couples meet online and end up getting engaged. Plus, over 85% of users who visit online dating websites are looking for an empowered and lasting connection.