Dear Trisha: I’m thinking about getting on an online dating app but I’m kinda skeptical because I’ve heard scary stories from friends. Do you have any tips?
Hi there! Thank you SO much for this incredibly relevant question. Not only is online dating more common than ever, Valentine’s Day is coming up – so there’s never been a better time for this post. I want to begin by validating what you’re feeling. Yes, online dating can be a really cool way to meet folks you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to connect with. There are a ton of platforms out there, from Tinder to Grindr, some focused on specific communities or even certain types of connections, whether more casual romantic relationships, more serious, long-term partnerships, or even just building friendships!
Unfortunately, though, as you point out, online dating can, at times, be a little tricky. We’ve all heard of the horror story I depicted in this week’s TikTok – you’ve connected with a prospective date, but when you show up, you realize that they just may have used photoshop on that profile picture…a lot. There are also far scarier scenarios that have ensued. With that said, Ask Trish is not about fear mongering, we’re about common sense tips to help y’all out! So in this week’s post, I’ll do a brief review of some online dating concerns to be aware of and simple tips you can use to do online dating “right.”
So, what makes online dating tricky? Well, first and foremost, there’s no guarantee that anyone you’ve connected with is who they say they are. That can have implications at the smallest level – they claimed to love bubble tea, but it turns out that they actually hate tapioca (gasp!) – and at more serious levels: they claim that their name is John Miller, and they’re 25, but their name is actually Ben Ross, and they’re 40. Indeed, unfortunately, many folks have found themselves the victims of online dating scams or set-ups, in which connections actually trick their victims into doing things for them (yikes!). And then, of course, online dating suffers from some of the same challenges the Internet, more generally, deals with, including harassment, which, on online dating platforms, can sometimes be extremely sexualized.
Can you – and if so, how do you – troubleshoot these challenges? Yes, you absolutely can – and I’m so glad you asked! A couple of common sense practices will hopefully ensure that, for the most part, your online dating experience is safe. 1) When you connect with a prospective partner, try and verify their identity and/or who they are. We’ve all Googled our crushes, and this time is no exception! If possible, before you meet up with them, have a video chat or FaceTime call, so you can verify that you are connecting with who you think you’re connecting with. 2) If things make it to the in-person date stage, pick an environment that is public, visible, and would give you an “easy out,” if need be. Don’t head over to their house for your first dinner together; go out to a restaurant. If you have a friend that’s willing to tag along/serve as a fallback date, if need be, utilize them! And make sure you have a phone on you, fully charged, and that you haven’t had too much drink. This way, you’re in control, which is key. And of course, 3) if you ever feel unsafe (whether in-person or online), leave immediately (or block them, stat!). Don’t worry about hurt feelings – you have my permission.
As a general rule, it’s also good practice to not share any personal information with connections that you’ve just met. This includes more basic information, like your address (no one wants a surprise visit!) or even your phone number. Many apps offer you the option to communicate with connections in-app; utilize that feature until you feel comfortable directly messaging a connection. Be careful also about more subtle information – like whether you’re going on vacation (now they know your apartment will be empty, and when!), or how much money you make at your job. Finally, don’t forget the other key Ask Trish lessons we’ve explored over the past few months; for example, I would strongly suggest avoiding sending sexually explicit photos. If you follow all of those tips, you should be good to go – ready to enjoy the awesome parts of online dating, and avoid the sucky parts.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s TikTok – if you thought my humor was as good as I think it is (let’s hope so!), keep the fun #AskTrish content coming by sharing your note, question, or thought here. Your topic might be featured in an upcoming TikTok/blog post! Remember, anything goes: on Ask Trish, we cover everything from the lighthearted to the deeply serious – and that’s because the Internet can create a range of experiences for each and every one of its users. Know that this is a safe space to share what you’re feeling. 💙 I can’t wait to hear from you – thank you in advance for helping build and strengthen our incredible community.
See you all next week, folks! Until then,