One of the biggest things that keeps people from online dating is the worry that they may put their safety at risk. While unsafe situations are not as likely as you’d think, there are still plenty of reasons to take extra precautions when you’re dating online. One of those precautions is to make sure you’re using one of the safest online dating apps out there.
Each dating app has its own privacy policies that potential users can read through before signing up, the plain fact is that most of us aren’t fine-print readers. While some of these tips may seem overly cautious, we’ve got some ideas for staying safe on dating apps, from how you put together your profile to finding dating sites that take your safety seriously.
Be Aware of the Information You Share
This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you don’t want information to be shared, don’t share it! It’s tougher than it sounds. Once you and a potential match begin to click, you’ll find yourself opening up as you get to know them. You can still have a good conversation without revealing too much about your day-to-day life.
However, you’re revealing identifiable details about yourself even before that initial hello. The backgrounds in your photos may show off some of your favorite hangouts, or a selfie at your desk might show a company logo in the background. Think about how comfortable you are with strangers knowing all about you before you’ve ever met.
Even if you’re not overly worried about your safety online, consider using a nickname on your dating profile. Making up a completely fictional name may make people suspicious once you reveal your real name, but a nickname splits the difference and keeps you just a little bit safer.
Use Separate Contact Information
You might want to create a separate email address to use for dating sites. It’s the same principle as not using the same password you use for your banking on other sites. If a dating site gets hacked, you’re less likely to have problems if you use an email that’s only associated with one site, you’ll have a lot less to worry about.
You may also want to look into signing up for a third party app that provides you with a second phone number. If you click with someone from a dating app, they’ll eventually want to move your chat over to text. It’s exponentially easier to block numbers than it used to be, so there’s no real harm in giving out your number.
But again, using your real phone number is another piece of information that someone overly nosy can use for a search that could turn up more of your online footprint.
Social Media Safety
You may have a few favorite photos that you’ve posted on your Facebook or Insta, and you’re considering using them on your dating profile, too. It makes sense: use your best photos to put your best foot forward.
But if your social media is public, using the same photos on your online dating profile can be iffy: a reverse image search can lead a nosy dater to find you elsewhere online in less than a minute. There’s no reason not to use a great photo. Just be careful where and how often you share it.
Some apps will even let you connect your social media to your dating profile. Obviously, that’s a no-go if you want to stay safe and maintain your privacy. It’s tempting: it keeps recent photos on your profile, and gives a potential match good insight into how you see yourself and how you spend your time outside of work.
That can mean someone can click through and have your full name and a list of your close acquaintances immediately. The good news is that there are very few apps that absolutely require the use of social media—and those don’t make our list of safety-conscious dating apps.
We’ve given you several tips on how to advocate for your own safety when you’re online dating, but you can up your security game more by choosing a dating app that cares about privacy as much as you do. A good dating app will not only give you customizable safety and privacy options, but will also do its part on the back end to keep your data secure.
We mentioned the option to incorporate social media above. If you’re concerned about keeping your data safe, providing your social media credentials to a dating site is definitely not the way to do it. While those sites can use your data to find friends or hobbies you and a potential date have in common, they have the potential to scrape additional information that may be used for other purposes.
While apps and dating sites are required to make their user agreements and terms of service public, they can be very hard to find—and in many cases, you’ll agree to them in a hurry when you sign up. Even if you mean to take a deep-dive into the fine print later, it doesn’t always happen—but it should. Do research on dating apps that look interesting, and set aside time to read all of those fine print pages before you begin the process.
Be Wary Rather Than Worried
We’ve given you a lot to digest. Yes, there are safety risks in every aspect of online dating, but while they’re many, they’re actually pretty minimal. You’re likely never going to encounter the worst-case-scenario that puts you in harm’s way physically. Data breaches do happen, though, and everyone who’s ever been on a dating site for ten minutes can tell you there’s no shortage of nosy creepers.
You don’t need to spend undue time worrying about your online safety, but the tips we suggested will help you be proactive in protecting your privacy online. Couple your common sense with a dating app that’s dedicated to keeping you secure in the first place and you’re one step closer to finding the love of your life without worry.