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Whether you’re looking for your `the one` or `the one night only`, there is certainly no shortage of dating and hook-up apps nowadays. It almost feels like there’s a new app aimed at a new extremely niche demographic every other week – and it is wonderful.
The world of dating/hook-up apps has given everyone a chance to let their freak flag fly, to find like-minded people who share the same interests (both in and out of the bedroom), to scale down and refine their search for companionship. But every good thing comes with a downside. Nearly every city has its own `Grindr killer`, and we have all heard at least one horror story of a near encounter of the dangerous kind on tinder. It can be scary and meeting new people can be very anxiety-inducing; let’s take a look at ways we can stay safe when taking a dive into the sea of thirsty people.
- Be careful with personal information
When you get talking to someone you really click with, it can be easy to get a little lose lipped. But some personal information is better kept until you fully know and trust the person. Where you work or the area you live can be just enough for stalkers to latch onto. When the inevitable “so what do you do for work?” question pops up – simply say your job title and do not mention which company (e.g. “oh, I do copywriting for a manufacturing company.”). When giving names, try to avoid giving anything other than your first name – and if you have a pretty unique name, perhaps give out a fake one or nickname.
- Check before you share a photo
We want to look good on these apps, obviously, but before posting your hottest photo, you should check some things. First, try not to post pictures that show locations you frequent or places you live/work. Second, crop out any identifiable features such as tattoos; this will help protect you if someone tries to leak any images you send or post. Finally, avoid holiday photos. We tend to post our vacations online, so any photos of you visiting a place on holiday can help people find your personal social media.
- Communicate with friends
Being on dating/hook-up apps is much less taboo now compared to just ten years ago. But at times, we still get a bit embarrassed – and that’s totally fine! But if you are talking with someone a lot, or planning to meet with someone, tell a friend or family member! Send them screenshots of the profile if possible, and when you go to meet up, make sure you tell your trusted person where you’re going, what you are wearing, and schedule a contact time. Let your trusted person know what time you will meet with this person and set a time limit which you should contact them by. If they don’t hear from you within that time, instruct them to try calling at least two full rings. Make sure you discuss with them what to do if they cannot get a hold of you. And if you get in someone else’s car – take a picture of the license plate and send it to your trusted person!
- Pay attention to red flags
Especially for members of the LGBTQAI+ communities, the world can be filled with some genuinely despicable humans. Trust your gut; if something feels off, then it probably is. Consider whether showing your face is safe to do. Enjoy yourself, and don’t ruin your time by overthinking. Just make sure you don’t end up wearing rose-tinted glasses. Even if someone has been perfect the whole time you were chatting, the second your intuition starts telling you something is wrong, listen.
- Don’t be polite
Okay, so this one sounds like something you shouldn’t do, but let’s unpack this. Be polite and kind and a decent human being – yes. But when something feels wrong, then politeness goes out the window. For example, if someone that’s giving you bad vibes wants to take the date somewhere else, get into their car, or go back to your place – say no. Say no and leave. In these situations where someone is making you uncomfortable or giving you a bad feeling, ignore politeness and stay in a public place. Give them a clear and definite no in a place where plenty of people can see you, then call someone you trust.
Enjoy meeting new people and having casual sex but remember to be safe, always use a condom, and listen to your gut!