Online dating has barged into the universe of the Internet and seems to be making over the face of modern relationships. In “Tips for Safe and Healthy Online Dating,” U.S. News reporter Laura McMullen explores a few ways we can be safer while dating online.
Juggling things like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and online dating sites makes us feel like the “Master of the Internet,” according to Michael Kaiser, of the National Cyber Security Alliance, but in reality we should be more restrictive with the things we share on those platforms.
It’s easy to forget that things we share on LinkedIn during job searches can easily pop up when our names become Google search terms. Some of the online dating safety tips McMullen and Kaiser suggest resonate as common sense and can easily be applied to any kind of dating. Gut instincts can go far in just about any dating situation, and more often than not, those feelings could be coming from the Holy Spirit.
Here are some way to help you “..be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16, NIV) with online dating safety.
1. Pace yourself.
There tends to be temptation to disclose personal information about yourself much quicker online compared to meeting someone in person. Instead, let the rate of self-disclosure you would use in person guide your rate online.
For example, start out with surface level topics, such as hobbies, favorite music, etc. Then, as you start feeling more comfortable and familiar with them, start sharing more personal information, such as your occupation, etc. Also, while you are slowly getting to know them be strategic with your questions, such as, “So, tell me more about your faith history…” or “What types of ministries are you involved in?” These types of questions can tell you a lot about their faith and if their walk with Christ is active or in hibernation.
Lastly, it’s recommended [by some] to keep your communication online for at least 2-4 weeks before deciding to meet someone in person to give yourself enough time to gauge their behavior and discern if they seem like a safe and possible match.
2. Protect yourself.
It’s ideal to create a separate email address when using online dating sites to protect the confidentiality of your real one. Never include any personal identifying information in your profile, such as your real name, contact information, etc. It’s wise to check out your potential match through sites such as My Match Checker to glean information on their possible criminal and sex offender history. Looking matches up on social media sites can give you even more information about their authenticity and trustworthiness. In addition, when you eventually have your first date, be sure to take your own mode of transportation and meet in a public place so you are never in a vulnerable position.
3. Watch yourself.
It’s also recommended to continually look for red flags with members you’re getting to know online. Some possible warning signs could include members who want to meet in person really quickly, members who insist on meeting alone, members who ask for your personal identification information, and members who ask for money for any reason. In addition, watch for members who seem to have behavioral fluctuations or message you incessantly. Furthermore, watch out for members who have contradicting information in their profiles and messages to you.
As everyone knows, online dating definitely involves some risks; however, there are many strategies you can take to mitigate those risks. So whether you are reviewing Christian Mingle, ChristianCrush or a similar site, be sure to keep these ideas in mind to ensure your safety and protection as you navigate through the many twists and turns of online dating.
What other online dating safety tips would you recommend?