Meeting people online; How Not to Die

We’re living at the dawn of the internet age; in the last 20 years we’ve gone from dial up internet, to touch screen smart phones, where you literally don’t even press a button to access the world wide web.

As it grows in accessibility, more and more people are turning to the internet to meet people, for friendship, for relationships, for sex and maybe even sex for money. Although most people you’ll talk to are decent normal people, there is always the fear that they’ll be a complete weirdo who smells of disinfectant and stalks your Facebook for 6 months. So, how can you be safe?

  1. General internet safety first; make sure all your social media is set to the highest privacy settings. Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, everything. Set up a separate email account for your dating sites. It’s safer to have a burner email if you need to burn the bridge down the line. Also, regardless of how many dating sites you join, there is a lot of spam.
  1. Keep your number to yourself, at least for a while. There are messaging apps like Kik that work on email address, or if you have the app for the dating site you’re using, you can message prospective suitors off of that. A phone number can be used to find your Facebook, and it’s a direct line to you. Getting a new number can be a lot of effort, be careful.
  1. Deciding how long to wait before meeting someone is really down to personal preference. Some like to talk online for weeks, some like me, for example, like to meet in person asap and get the initial meeting out of the way. Whatever you decide, don’t let yourself be pressured into meeting someone before you’re ready. If someone pushes you, it’s a red flag.

Guidelines for meeting someone for the first time:

  1. ALWAYS meet for the first time in a public place. Preferably during the day, somewhere busy. Meeting for dinner can be a bit awkward as a first date; meeting for a quick drink or a coffee can be a lot less pressure. It can always become dinner if you hit it off! If someone is badgering you to come over to theirs or to go to yours for a first meeting, be wary. If you’re just looking for a quickie off tinder, this may not apply.
  1. Let a friend know where you’re going, and what time you expect it to be over. Have a plan in place for what to do if you don’t make contact by an agreed time. Have your phone charged, or take a plug in battery pack (€8 Penny’s, guuuuurl). Having a friend text or call you about an hour into the date, presumably with an emergency is also another safety option. This way if you need an out, you have it.
  1. Just because you met someone in public for the first time, you don’t have to go back to anyone’s house for meeting no.2. If you want to meet out in town for a few dates to get comfortable before taking someone home, that’s absolutely ok.
  1. Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. Some people think that because it’s online they have free license to be rude/ threatening; not the case. If someone starts hurling abuse through messages because you won’t meet them or have sex or do whatever, block them, report them and move on; you deserve better.

Internet dating is a lot like dating “in real life”; there will be a few jerks, a few posers, a few wasters, a few kind folk you just aren’t attracted to and a few gems you’ll want to keep. Keep your head up, be smart and safe; you’ll be fine.