A Single Girl's Guide To Safely Dating Online*

online dating

With the recent media coverage of the 'Me Too' Movement, I've decided to write a post about staying safe while online dating.

I've never dated, let alone tried online dating. I don't know if online dating is something that I'd ever try out, but of course, lots of people do it so I'm not going to knock it. There are plenty of ways to meet someone online and you could always use a free dating site such as We Love Dates. Dating digitally is so common now: I know people who've used apps like Tinder and Bumble, and there are people who've met their loves via social media. I have a friend from university who met her boyfriend through Instagram.

Whatever you do, it's always important to stay safe. Here are some of my tips for keeping yourself safe when online dating.

If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Over the years, I've learned (the hard way) that I need to trust my intuition and take heed of my gut feeling. If something sounds too good to be true, or something just doesn't feel right, then it's best to take a step back. I'd rather do that than waste my time on someone that I'm not compatible with or someone who's lied about themselves.

Watch out for red flags.
Just like the previous point, if he or she has personality traits that seem a bit 'off' then avoid like the plague. For myself, if someone is pushy, disrespectful or trying to rush things, then I just avoid, avoid, avoid.

Meet up in a public place.
The only time I've met up with anyone I previously spoke to online was when I met up with Melissa, who kindly invited me to a lunch last year. If you're going on a date, only meet up in a public place and always let someone know where you're going, when you're going, who you're going to be with and what time you'll be back.

Never share your private details.
Never give out personal information that could easily lead you to be tracked down.

Use the right transportation.
When going to and from a date, use public transport or arrange to travel in a registered cab or taxi.

Don't bow down to pressure.
Now, I understand that this is easier said than done, but you have every right to say no. You don't owe anyone a date and no one is entitled to you so always remember that and don't be afraid to assert yourself. Block them if you have to. I've spoken about being pressured before and you can read the post here.

To cut a long story short, while I was studying at university, a guy in my friendship group was putting pressure on me to date him and to do other stuff that was completely against my will. Even when I made it clear that I thought that he was unattractive and I didn't like him, he kept on pushing the issue and putting pressure on me instead of respecting my space, decisions and boundaries. After experiencing toxic behaviour from him - he sent me abusive text messages, shamed me for not dating and sleeping with him, tried to turn my friends against me, tried to manipulate me, crossed my personal boundaries and make vicious jabs towards me and behind my back - I cut ties and cut him off. He didn't respect me at all and he was a toxic person so he had to go. Also, my so-called 'friends' enabled his behaviour, supported him and resented me for not giving into him, so I cut ties with them as well and distanced myself from my friendship group at university.

At the end of the day, no one should be pressuring anybody to do anything, whether that's to date, have sex or anything else. It's not right and I'm not afraid to distance myself, ghost and cut ties with people who are pushy and forceful. I am a human being and I have the right to make my own decisions about my body and my personal life.

Consent, consent, consent!
You have the right to say no, and the other party should respect that. There is no other way around that. No means no. No is a full sentence, so that's the end of that - no one should 'convince' you to change your mind or say yes.

Have your wits about you.
Of course, you should enjoy your date and you should feel totally at ease, but if someone is making you feel uncomfortable, then leave. Walk away and don't let anyone pressure you into continuing the date.

What are your tips for dating safely? Let me know in the comments below.

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