As online dating continues to surpass real-life interactions as the preferred option for many singles, some relationship experts are giving users tips to help them stay safe on the internet.
According to Bustle, over 40% of singles in the U.S. currently use online dating services. Considering the variables that go into meeting a stranger on the internet, experts are preaching safe dating online to any user who will listen.
Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., a contributor to Psychology Today, recommends that new online daters take it slow when it comes to revealing personal information. Until a user meets their match face-to-face, they can never be sure of who they’re talking to.
“It is best to use your first name only during initial conversations and provide more detailed personal information only after you’ve met in person and gotten to know one another well,” said Orbuch. “Legitimate online daters will understand the reasons for doing this and will be doing the same themselves.”
Shani Silver of XOJane.com suggests taking new pictures for online dating profiles that do not reveal where a user works or lives. By using a fresh set of photos, a potential fraud online will have no way of tracing them back to the user.
“It is my opinion that your online dating images should be used only for online dating. Take a separate set of images, selfies, whatever and only use them in your online dating profiles,” said Silver.
Other advice from the experts included waiting at least one week to meet a match face-to-face, as well as planning a first date in a well-lit public location.
While some dating websites already require users to take these precautionary measures, there has been a growing demand for online dating resources that prioritize user safety.
As the holiday season winds to a close, lonely singles may want to use these helpful tips now before they miss their chance at love. According to Esquire, the week after New Year’s Day is the most popular time for online dating every year.
Last year, OkCupid saw a 40% increase in messaging during the weekend after New Year’s Day. Also, Match.com sees a 60% spike in activity from Christmas to Valentine’s Day.
“Users who sign up during the first week of January will find their partner an average of two weeks faster than those who sign up later, taking an average of just 10 weeks compared to an average of 12 weeks throughout the year,” said Shannon Smith, spokesperson for Plenty of Fish.
While online daters may be in a rush to find post-holiday companionship, dating experts are hopeful that singles will heed their advice to avoid an awkward or unsafe encounter.