So for one reason or another you decided to start dating. Whether you're using Tinder to date after a divorce, or just bored and looking for hookups, using these Tinder dating safety tips will help – you guessed it – keep you safe while you're having fun. Keep in mind these are just my tips and personal opinions… hoping to keep you safe!
Use unique photos on your profile.
It's super easy to do a reverse image search on Google, so if you're using the same photos on social media (or on your blog!) that you use on your dating profile, your potential dates can know a whole lot about you that they don't need to know yet – or at all. You are in control of what your matches learn about you, don't let that control go by being careless with your photo choices.
On that same note, do a reverse image search on Google for their photos to do a little digging.
Don't give your real phone number out.
I made this mistake a lot at first. I gave out my snapchat username and also gave out my phone number. My block game is strong so I didn't mind blocking people if they were weird or gave me bad vibes, but if they have your number and you piss them off, they could do a lot of damage. I mean think about it… they could put your number on craiglist or something. So, use a Google Voice number and consider setting up a separate snapchat for your Tinder matches. That may seem like a lot of extra work, and it kind of is, but it will keep you safe.
Stalk your date beforehand.
This is sometimes tough to do because you don't know anyone's real first and/or last name just from matching with them on Tinder. However, they will usually give you their kik or snapchat username. When their real name pops up, plug it into Facebook and Google. Do some stalking and make sure they aren't a (known) serial killer. If you have their full name, it doesn't hurt to look them up in the court system, too. I know some people will disagree with me on this one but if your date was charged with rape in 2012 and served 5 years in prison, wouldn't you like to know before going out to drinks with them? I mean, I'd say that's a deal breaker but maybe that's just me…
I did this with a date – we went out once before I looked him up on social media. I didn't stalk him through the court system but he added me on Instagram so I saw his real name and looked him up on Facebook. Come to find out he was married with a newborn! He told me he was single! So, I called him out on it, then unmatched and blocked him. No more dates.
Keep a friend in the loop.
When I go on dates, my friend always knows who I'm going with, where we are going, and I check in with her within 5 minutes of meeting my date to let her know if I'm okay or if I need a bail out. I send her a photo of my date, their phone number, the address of our meeting place, and I text her when I pull up so she knows to check in on me in a few minutes. It may seem excessive but I have kids to worry about and need to be safe!
Be sure to keep a friend in the loop every time (even on the second and third date), and have another friend on standby in case that one is unavailable at the moment.
Always have an escape plan.
I don't mean to sound dramatic, but an escape plan is a must when you're going on a date with anyone, especially someone you've met from an online dating app like Tinder. Before I go on my dates, I make sure my friend has all the details of course, but we also have a plan in place in case the date sucks. I usually know within about 30 seconds of meeting my date if I will like them or not. I let them know I'm making an “I'm okay” text to my friend. If I get a weird vibe at that time, I tell my friend to call me in 10 minutes with an “emergency” so I can escape. I mean, you could just be up front and say it's not working out, but I'm awkward and hate confrontation with dates so I use the escape route. I follow up with a text letting them know I'm not interested in going on another date. The alternative is just to unmatch and/or block them, but I do try to be as upfront as possible.
Watch out for red flags.
Red flags are bound to happen in any relationship, but with online dating you should pay extra close attention. You're meeting up with complete strangers and need to vet them a little more than if you're introduced by a mutual friend. You know nothing about them, except what they tell you – and honestly, that could all be a bunch of lies! I'm not saying everyone will lie, but it does happen. I went on a date with a few guys who were married… found out afterward and got rid of them of course… but lies do happen. Stay alert for red flags.
I met a guy who was great… seemed perfect, really (should've been a red flag itself haha). We clicked right away and had a wonderful time together. He was gorgeous, insanely fit (intimidatingly so), seemed kind and with the way he talked, it seemed we had similar goals in life. I found out a few short weeks later that he was super controlling, clingy, and overall just disrespectful towards me. He did a complete 180 from when we first started hanging out, and I honestly have no idea why. But rather than hang on and try to figure it out, I got rid of him – blocked all forms of contact – and never looked back. You've gotta be aware of red flags and learn when to say “HELL NO” and run when necessary. Don't stay just because you've invested time and/or feelings into the person. If they seem controlling, manipulative, etc, run … fast.
I got kind of paranoid about driving my own vehicle to a meeting point a few times, because I didn't want my dates to know what I was driving (or my license plate number). If possible, take an Uber or a Lyft – or get out of your car and meet inside rather than in the parking lot. Thankfully, I didn't meet any total creepers that made me think they'd stalk me home or run my plates or anything, but creeps like that do exist. You can never be too careful.
Keep it light.
Go for coffee rather than starting off by showing up at their apartment/house/hotel room. While random hookups can be fun, it's much safer to meet in a public, neutral place at first. If they're worth sleeping with, they're worth spending a few moments with at a coffee shop first.
Use protection. Every time.
If you're hooking up with anyone, ever, it's important to use condoms and birth control every. single. time. I recently had an ablation done and they asked if I wanted my tubes tied at the same time… ummm HECK YES. I don't want to be pregnant, ever again. It's funny because when I talked to the doctor about it I told him I wasn't ever planning on sleeping with men again, but hey, crazier things have happened. I'm glad I did it, because if I do decide to hook up, I don't have to worry about an unplanned pregnancy and a trip to Planned Parenthood.
Get tested for STDs regularly and talk openly with your potential partners about STDs/STIs and exclusivity. Are they sleeping with anyone else? Are they using protection? No matter what your date says, use protection. Christ on a fucking cracker DO NOT have unprotected sex with a damn Tinder match. You're just asking for trouble if you do!
Carry pepper spray (or something similar).
Depending on legalities in your state, you can carry mace, a stun gun, or even a real gun. I don't recommend carrying a real gun but that's due to my own personal opinions and negative experiences with them. Read up on how to use pepper spray, stun guns, and other self-defense tools before carrying them.
Always go with your gut.
If you only listen to one tip in this whole list, it's this one: always go with your gut. That icky feeling you get when something is up, do not ignore it. If you get a bad vibe from a Tinder date at any time, feel free to cancel the date or get your friend to hit you up with an “emergency” so you can safely escape. I have been fortunate enough to only hang out with pretty cool people from Tinder for the most part, but I have also unmatched/blocked MANY who have given me bad vibes before we agreed on a date.
Who knows, you may meet the love of your life on a dating app – or you may just use them to pass the time. Either way, just have fun, be safe, and make sure everyone has clear expectations up front to minimize confusion. Meeting new people can be a thrill, especially if you just left a long term relationship. Enjoy your new found freedom!
Let me know your best dating safety tips by leaving a comment below.