Online Dating Safety Tips and Red Flags You Didn’t Know

Online dating is a great way to meet people, but use these online dating safety tips and look out for online dating red flags to stay safe.

As a professional dating coach,, I’ve seen firsthand how online dating has exploded in popularity. Over 40 million Americans are seeking love through the internet nowadays. But caution must be exercised. It’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs that can arise and take online dating safety guidelines seriously, even though we’ve heard many success stories.

Wondering how safe online dating is nowadays? With approximately 10% of dating profiles being fake and half of daters already in committed relationships, it’s important to stay alert. Women are particularly at risk, with dangers ranging from stalking to sexual assault. Shockingly, 1 in 10 convicted sex offenders use dating apps. But don’t let that discourage you from giving it a try! By following online dating safety tips and being mindful of red flags, you can enjoy the exciting ride of online dating without compromising your safety. So strap in and enjoy the experience!

Here are 10 Online Dating Safety Tips

online dating safety tips

One of the best ways to have good experiences with online dating is to follow some important safety tips.

Here are ten safety tips to keep in mind while you date.

10. Favor Trusted, Relationship-Based Sites Over Hook-Up Apps

Sexual assault is a significant concern in dating, especially for women looking for men. Although no dating site can guarantee one’s physical safety, relationship-based sites such as Match and eHarmony are the optimal choice. Why? Experts believe that men who commit violence against females usually target those who appear promiscuous. Thus, sites that cater to casual sex are more likely to attract these unsavory men.

9. Run a Background Check

after a background check

According to a survey by OpinionMatters, it turns out 53% of online daters share false information on their profiles. Conducting a background check on a potential date can provide valuable insights. With such a check, you can verify their current residence, discover any previous arrests, and confirm whether they’re being truthful about their name, age, or occupation. For a low monthly cost of $5, you can access WhitePages, a highly regarded “people search” service. By using your potential date’s phone number, you can authenticate their claims with confidence by discovering their full name, residence, and actual age.

8. Get an Alternate Phone Number to Protect Your Identity

get an alternate phone number

When it comes to online dating, it’s typical to swap phone numbers early on to organize a meet-up over text or call. But this could compromise privacy and safety since searchable technology could reveal your full name and residence. Luckily, you’ve got options:

First, you could stick to the dating platform until you’re comfortable enough to share your number.

Second, use Google Voice— it offers a free alternative number for your phone so you can text and call without providing your actual number. It’s user-friendly and allows you to seamlessly block unwanted numbers.

7. Meet in a Public Place for the First Date

date in a public place

For safety reasons, it’s always a good idea to have your first date with a new acquaintance in a public place. This gives you the chance to gauge trust and physical chemistry without rushing things.

Meeting strangers always carries some level of risk, so it’s wise to err on the side of caution. Taking this precautionary step can also increase your sense of security during the date. If things don’t go as planned, it’s easier to leave or get help if you find yourself in an uncomfortable or potentially dangerous situation. Remember, these online dating safety tips can make all the difference in your personal safety if the unexpected happens.

6. Don’t Offer Your Full Name Right Away

couple met through online dating; online dating safety tips

One online dating safety tip that often goes overlooked is refraining from giving out your full name until you have met the other person and you feel comfortable doing so. When someone possesses your first and last name, he or she could easily discover your place of residence, occupation, and other personal details that you might not want to share initially. It is better to stick to using your first name only until you have built more trust with the person.

5. Drive Yourself to the First Date

driving to a date

While being picked up for a first date can be charming and old-fashioned, it’s wise to think twice before getting in a car with someone you don’t know well, or disclosing your home address. Instead, consider traveling independently, either driving yourself or using public transportation. For added safety, consider getting a ride from a friend, until you feel more comfortable with your date. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

4. Go Easy on the Booze

don't drink too much; online dating safety tips

While online dating, staying safe is all about good decision-making. The same goes for alcohol, where less turns out to be more. Limit yourself to a couple of drinks: one to calm down your nerves, and maybe another to add to the fun. It’s disappointing to hear, but compromising your ability to use your instincts or brainpower to get out of unsafe situations is the last thing you’d want to do. This is one of the crucial online dating safety tips that should not be disregarded.

3. Consider Carrying Pepper Spray

online dating safety

While hopefully never necessary, carrying pepper spray can provide peace of mind and a layer of protection if needed.

It’s worth noting that pepper spray is legal in most states, however, it’s vital to check individual state requirements to know which varieties are permitted.

2. Use the Buddy System

use buddy system

It’s always wise to plan ahead before a first date by informing a friend of the meeting place’s name and location. Agreeing on a check-in time ensures you are safe and accounted for. If the unimaginable and unlikely does occur, your friend will know when to worry and where to look for you.

Although there’s a slim chance of anything bad happening, apart from your date being shorter and heavier than advertised, it’s recommended to utilise this online dating safety tip. Always be prepared and know you have a backup plan, should you need help.

1. Trust Your Instincts

online dating

When it comes to dating, no one knows you better than yourself. Trust that little voice inside you – your gut. It rarely steers you wrong. If you sense something is amiss, it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is one of the most important tips to keep in mind while navigating the world of online dating. Your instincts can detect danger long before you might see any obvious signs of it.

8 Red Flags to Be Aware

Ensuring your safety when online dating requires vigilance towards identifying warning signs. Despite adhering to prior safety guidelines, you may still confront these indicators. We’ve curated a list of the top eight online dating red flags to facilitate your safety.

8. Copy-and-Paste Openers

sending unoriginal openers

Beware of this sneaky online dating red flag: lack luster opening lines. While a thoughtful and witty message, unique to you, is a promising sign, receiving a mundane opener like “You look gorgeous! How’s your day going?” likely means the sender’s using a lazy, uninspired opener to send to multiple people and probably didn’t even read your profile. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dangerous, but they’re possibly not looking to get to know you as an individual. Stay vigilant!

7. Sending Women Pics of Their Junk

online dating couple

It’s simple and needs no explanation, yet some men still do it! A similar red flag on online dating is too much sexual innuendo too early on, which is less offensive but still a bad sign.

6. Going Quiet/Texting at Weird Hours

online dating red flags

Beware the online dater who goes quiet for days, only to ping you at 3:45 am. This sporadic messaging could signal they’re in a relationship and must hide their communications from their partner.

It’s a common online dating red flag. Half of online daters are already seeing someone! So, it’s wise to exercise caution. If someone disappears and reappears at odd hours, tread carefully.

5. Messaging You Repeatedly When You Don’t Reply Right Away

too many responses

Be alert to overly-eager text messaging, as it can indicate severe neediness and is one of the biggest red flags in online dating. Have you ever had someone blow up your phone with messages like, “Are you there?”, “Did you get my messages?”, “Did you lose your phone?”, or “Are you blowing me off?” While avoiding these people may not be listed as one of the top online dating safety tips, it can help you sidestep needy and demanding individuals who aren’t that interested in building a long-lasting, fulfilling relationship.

4. There’s Only One Profile Photo

online dating profile

Beware of a single profile picture on an online dating app, especially if the individual looks too good to be true. Chances are, it’s a fake profile. Moreover, if there isn’t much written about the person in their description, it’s probably a scam.

Genuine users of dating apps upload multiple photos and put effort into crafting an honest and detailed profile. Those who seek meaningful connections and abide by online dating safety measures do so to increase their chances of finding genuine companionship – not to deceive others.

3. They Warn “No Drama or Playing Games”

online dating safety tips

Be of those who claim “no drama” or “not a game player” on their dating profile, especially men seeking women. These phrases are meaningless and suggest the opposite- he might be projecting a love of drama and game-playing.

Be particularly on guard for phrases such as “I need” or “I won’t tolerate,” or frequent use of “can’t” or “won’t.” These all indicate an individual who is either negative or possessive in real life. Consider them red flags you should lookout for in online dating.

2. Ivy League Degree but no Job

online dating red flags

Be wary of those who claim to have attended prestigious schools but have no job to show for it. It’s not the lack of employment that raises online dating red flags (temporary unemployment or disability can cause such a situation), but the possibility of a false education claim. Remember, having a college degree doesn’t necessarily equate to success, and honesty remains the best policy.

1. They Ask for Money

asking for money

Scammers are not limited to free dating sites, they’re also active on some of the biggest online dating apps. They create fake profiles to build trust, feign a connection with you and then request money. Their tactics often involve fabricating a medical or travel emergency. Remain alert and protect your heart and finances.

Online dating can be a wonderful way to meet people and you can have many great first dates (and maybe second dates if you don’t say one of the things you should never say on a first date), so don’t let the danger scare you away from potentially find a connection. Just follow these online dating safety tips, avoid the online dating red flags.

online dating safety tips and red flags you didn’t know