If You Feel Unsafe Meeting People From Dating Apps, Try These Tips

At this point, most of us have been on at least one date with someone we've met on a dating app, and if you haven't, then you've probably considered it. Although this shift in the dating climate has made it much easier to connect with like-minded people, it's also important to remember that meeting up with strangers who you've only exchanged messages with online can come with risks. Following safety tips for dating apps can help ensure that if you do end up on a date with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, you're able to make a swift and safe exit.

I spoke to prominent LA-based relationship therapist Dr. Gary Brown to get some tips on how to stay safe when meeting people you've only interacted with online, because it's so much better to be on the safe side. "While most people you meet through dating sites are trustworthy, there is always the chance that you may encounter someone sketchy at best and potentially dangerous at worst," Dr. Brown tells Elite Daily. Since it can be tricky to tell if someone has bad intentions just from messaging with them, here are some precautions you should take if you do decide to meet IRL.

Always trust your gut.

"Listen to your inner voice when contemplating dating someone," says Dr. Brown. "If something does not sound or feel right, you should pay attention to your inner radar, as this is one of the very best defenses you have." If your intuition is telling you something is off, then it's probably a good idea to take a step back. 

Meet in a public place that's well-lit.

No matter how much you've clicked with someone you've met online, it's not always a good idea to be in private until after the first few dates, says Dr. Brown. "Meet them in that public setting the first few encounters until you feel comfortable," he emphasizes. "Having plenty of people in close proximity can also help you feel more comfortable, and help is there if you need it."

Don't tell them exactly where you live.

"Under no circumstances should you let them know where you live," warns Dr. Brown. If they ask, you can tell them the general area or a notable landmark near-by, but anything more than that could backfire if they turn out to be sketchy.

Do your research.
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Although it might seem like overkill to some, you'd be surprised what a quick Google search can reveal. "Check them out online," confirms Dr. Brown. "You might even consider doing a preliminary background check to see if anything suspicious comes up. Paying 60 or 70 dollars to gain some peace of mind may indeed be worth it." If you've been talking to or dating someone and it seems like they've got something to hide, then a background check isn't too much of a stretch. Follow your gut!

Tell someone where you're going and when they should expect to hear from you.

Always let a close friend know if you're going on a date with someone new. This way, on the off chance that something does happen, they'll already know exactly where you are. All you need to do is send a quick text telling your friend where you're meeting your date, and if you do decide to go home with them, it's never a bad idea to drop a pin so they know exactly where to find you. Give them your date's name, too, just in case.

Make sure their profile looks legit.
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There's a good chance you might've come across a profile that looks questionable. If you suspect the pictures they're using aren't theirs, that's a good reason to block them and keep moving. "If you see them on social media, see what kind of pictures they have," says Dr. Brown. "If they all look like professional headshots without other people in the pictures, this may be an indication that they have a fake profile."

Although there's no reason to be paranoid that every date you meet on a dating app is shady, it's all too easy to let your guard down faster than what might be smart. While there are no hard and fast rules, anyone with honest intentions shouldn't have a problem respecting your boundaries. And anyone who criticizes you for taking safety precautions or pressures you into situations you don't want to be in doesn't have your best interests at heart. Thank u, next!