When women online date, not only do they have to sort through a myriad of misleading profiles, but they have to prioritize personal safety. Among women ages 18-34 who online date, 19% reported being threatened with physical harm at some point. However, with 30% of Americans on dating apps, it can be worthwhile to swipe through the endless profiles to potentially find that special connection.
One way to stay safer while online dating is to have a set of boundaries you bring into each new relationship, or situation. Setting boundaries can help keep you physically and emotionally safer until you know a person is who they appear to be. And, even after you have met a date in person and confirmed their identity, it’s helpful to have boundaries in place while you analyze if you’d like to move forward romantically. Here are four boundaries to set while online dating that will help keep you safe, whether a relationship turns into love or you decide to say goodbye.
1. Don’t Share Private Information
When you first start messaging back and forth with an online connection, it can feel exciting to share details about your life. Shared interests, values, and goals are important aspects of compatibility and can be explored during that initial phase. However, trust should be earned over time, and not assumed while you’re getting to know someone. Don’t share any information over online messages that you wouldn’t also share with a casual acquaintance. Some examples of information you should never share while online dating are:
- Your address
- Financial information
- Location of where you work
- Private photos
- Personal details about family members or close friends
- Stories you wouldn’t share with loved ones
2. Set a Timeline for the First Date
If your online dating goal is to move from messaging to in-person dating, then it’s important to set a timeline on how quickly you’d like a first date to happen. Setting a first date timeline could look like only messaging with online connections for one week before asking if they want to meet in person. This can help protect you from a person who may be great with words, but uncomfortable in person. This can also help you find out early if someone is deceiving you about who they are. While this timeline may vary from woman to woman and may not align with the person you are trying to date, it will help you get an idea of how serious they are about moving forward.
If they can’t commit to a date or reschedule more than once, that’s a sign that they may be misleading you about who they are or what their relationship goals are. If they commit to a date and turn out to be exactly who they say they are, then it is time to keep a keen eye out for any relationship red flags.
3. Have Your Support System in Place
If online chatting progresses to that first date, then it’s time to get your support system in place. Talk to a trusted girlfriend or family member and let them know all of the details about your first date. This includes the person’s first and last name, the address of the public place you are meeting, and what your exit strategy will be if anything feels uncomfortable.
If the date goes well and you plan another, continue to fill in your friend in on the details. During this early phase of the relationship it is possible that anytime you could feel uncomfortable, or wish to get out of the situation. Having your support system in place means you’ll have support if you need to get out of a situation safely.
4. Cut Off All Communication If Necessary
According to Pew Research, 60% of women online dating, ages 18-34, say someone has continued to contact them after they said they were not interested. If you tell an online connection you are not interested in moving forward and they won’t take no for an answer, it’s time to hit that block button. If they start using offensive language or threaten you in any way, don’t be afraid to report their account to the dating app and contact your local authorities.
If you have any concerns you are being stalked after cutting off communication, trust your instincts and share the situation with trusted friends or family. Keep a record of all communications and in person encounters, and file a report with your local police.
Online dating is continuing to grow in popularity, and can be an exciting way to meet someone in your area. However, it’s important to stay on your guard while interacting with strangers. By committing to a few dating boundaries, you can stay safer while swiping to profiles and looking for that special connection.