Is it safe and healthy? How do you know that the individuals you talk to are really who they say they are? Are there other risks or downsides? While online dating clearly allows you more access to potential dating partners and lets you get an initial sense of someone before deciding to meet face to face, it has some drawbacks. Reducing a person to a two-dimensional profile isn't the same as actually meeting someone, and the large number of partner descriptions could lead you to objectify potential partners and possibly make you reluctant to commit to just one.
And if you communicate online for a long time before meeting someone, you may have skewed expectations, according to an analysis of online dating in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest. The mathematical algorithms used by dating sites cannot know how you and a potential partner will grow and mature over time or even how you will interact in the short-term. In other words, they are no more guaranteed to succeed than any other method of dating. Still, they remain hugely popular in our busy world.
Don't reveal contact information. When you're creating an online dating profile, be cautious about what information you disclose. Keep things pretty general and avoid personal contact details at all costs. Make sure you use a reputable site that allows you to keep private such details as your full name, phone number, address or personal email. Don't reveal info on your dating profile that would allow someone to search for your social media accounts and stalk you through those.
Be wary of red flags. There are a few red flags you should be on the lookout for when you're hearing from people. Try to avoid people who try to jump immediately into communication outside of the dating site, say they're from the United States but are currently abroad, ask you for money, ask for your address under the guise of sending you gifts, make blatant and frequent grammar or spelling mistakes or send you links to third-party sites.
If you notice any of these, block and report the person. Ask questions—and then ask them again in a different way. See if you get the same answers, even to simple questions like where someone grew up or where they work. It may not be as easy to gauge honesty online as it is in person, so be curious and pay attention. I breeze through the questionnaire: What are my spiritual beliefs? What is my ayurvedic type?
This one give me pause. What did I learn in that Vedic astrology session …? Happily, I type the word p-i-t-t-a in the space. But what exactly does that mean? I could not recall, so I hit Google. Hope does spring eternal. Despite having written about single life for more than a decade, I had never dated online in any serious way. In that regard, I was singular among my single friends—the Luddite left on the platform at the train station. After all, according to marketresearch.
A car pulled up close and slowed down; she thought she recognized the driver as her date. He gave her the once-over, and just as she raised her hand to wave, the car sped away. And that was only the tip of the iceberg.
5 Tips for Healthy, Safe Online Dating
The dating app for mindful connections
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