The first online dating site, Kiss.com, was launched in 1994. Today, there are thousands of websites and apps dedicated to finding love.
When online dating first started, it was something of a joke. It seemed odd to “date” someone you had never met in real life. But over time, the idea has become much more normalized.
And when it comes right down to it, finding relationships online isn’t all that different from finding them in-person. If anything, the online process actually helps to make dating easier and safer overall. That is, as long as you stick to some commonsense rules:
Get to Know a Match as Much as Possible Before Meeting
The idea here is that you kind of date a person online before you date them in real life. Just like you might meet someone in a bar or a friend’s birthday party, the online experience has you meeting people virtually on online dating apps. Online images help you to find a person who appeals to you visually, while their profile information tells you if their interests and passions somewhat match up to yours.
Once you’ve found someone who intrigues you, open the lines of communication gradually. If messaging seems to be going well, then you can advance to voice calling and video chats.
Progressing in this way offers you some safety filters. And it’s a good way to get to know the other person without making a firm commitment. If the person seems strange or dangerous just with messaging, you can simply cut it off there.
From there, voice calls and video chats really help to present more about a person’s real personality. And they still leave you capable of saying yes or no to meeting in person safely.
Verify Your Date’s Identity
Romance scams, catfishing and other kinds of identity theft schemes have become real problems in the online dating world. Phone calls and video chats can help to cut back on fake personas, but not entirely. That’s where some extra research on your part can be invaluable.
Try searching for your match online and on social media to see if anything problematic comes up. Use any information you find to make sure that your date is really who he or she says they are.
Use an online public records search site to confirm information they’ve told you (like the names of relatives, where they’re working, etc.). You can also check on any criminal background they may have, and verify that the identity they’ve presented to you is real.
Make First Dates Very Public
Assuming you’ve already taken the above steps to get to know the person, you should feel pretty comfortable about meeting your match in-person. But it can’t hurt to take at least a few precautions on your first “real” date.
When meeting face-to-face for the first time, have the date take place in a restaurant or other establishment that’s very public; somewhere that doesn’t leave much opportunity for bad behavior. And don’t plan to meet up at each other’s homes, at least until you really get to know the person.
This technological approach to dating may sound a bit clinical to those who aren’t used to it. But just because you’re using a dating app to introduce yourself doesn’t mean that getting to know someone can’t still be exciting and exhilarating.
Following these safety tips shouldn’t take away from the romance, either. Rather, these tips can help you navigate the world of online dating safely and, hopefully, successfully.