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Online Dating: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Getting Hurt

In light of the recent Manti Te’o Fake Dead Girlfriend scandal, I thought now’d be a good time to talk about some ways you can stay safe during online dating.

After all, it’s 2013, and online dating isn’t the uncommon, semi-taboo thing it used to be in the past.

Everyday people meet others on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as online dating sites like Match and eHarmony, and sometimes romantic relationships begin.

Just because it’s becoming more common, though, doesn’t mean it’s completely safe, as people like Te’o and those who appear on the
MTV series Catfish can tell you.

(Keep in mind, by “safe” we’re talking about both physical and emotional safety.)

So, I collected a slew of safe online dating tips from around the ‘net to share, and after each one you’ll find the original source where you can visit and get even more tips for staying safe in an online relationship.

Tip #1: Be aware of the risks.

Don’t enter into an online relationship of any kind without first knowing what could happen.

You could become the victim of a hoax or some sort of financial or identity fraud. The other person could blackmail or stalk you. You could even become physically threatened if you decide to meet someone in person.

In other words: No rose-colored glasses.

Safe Online Dating – Get Safe Online

Tip #2: Choose your online dating site wisely.

For those who are entering the online dating world on purpose (as opposed to just meeting someone on a social network or message board by chance), it’s important to screen the dating website. What kinds of protection policies does the site have in place? Does the site provide YOU with the tools you need to avoid scammers and predators?

How to Date Online Safely, From World’s Top Web-Security Expert – ABC News

Tip #3: Get help navigating the technology.

If you’re not all that Internet-savvy, or you know how to use Facebook but you’re not sure about profiles on online dating sites, get someone to help you. If that embarrasses you, just ask a trusted family member or friend, or check out the many tutorials designed to help you learn how to navigate a new website or feature.

Not knowing how something works leaves you vulnerable to fraud.

9 Key Tips for Dating Online Safely and Successfully – Psychology Today

Tip #4: Be as anonymous as possible.

During the beginning of an online relationship, keep vital information about yourself private. Your complete name, your physical address and telephone number, your main e-mail account – these are all things someone with dangerous intentions can use to harm you.

If you meet someone on Facebook, chances are they’ll know your full name; however, you can fix your privacy settings so that he or she sees nothing else personal that you’re not ready to show.

Wait until you feel comfortable before sharing this information, and don’t share it if the other person isn’t willing to share his or her own information, too.

Online Dating Safety Tips – Zoosk

Tip #5: Don’t always trust the picture.

First of all, with today’s advances in digital pictures and photo editing programs, sometimes we have to dig through layers and layers of Instagram filters and grainy resolutions just to get an idea of what the person truly looks like.

Second of all, people can use fake pictures (as Te’o and the Catfish folks already know).

So, use any pictures the person sends you as a general guideline. You can ask for more pictures of various settings, times, events, etc., to judge whether they’re for real or the person is using fake images. Also, once you’re comfortable, you can video chat with the person.

Online Dating Advice – Ask Men

Tip #6: Report fakes, scammers, and criminals.

Generally, online dating sites include a feature that allows you to report any suspicious behavior. You can do this with social media sites, too, though. For example, both Twitter and Facebook have features that allow you to block and/or report abusive, spammy behavior.

11 Ways to Stay Safe When Dating Online – Internet Safety Project

Tip #7: Use common sense.

Go slowly, use good judgment, pay attention to your gut instincts – even if you feel you’ve made an “instant connection” with the person, pause a moment to respect the possibilities that:

  • You could be wrong.
  • It could be the wrong kind of connection.

Also, remember: The point of the relationship – whether friendly or romantic – is to find someone who likes you for you. Don’t try to reinvent yourself; just be your already amazing self! The people who are best suited for your life will be attracted to YOU!

Tips for Safe Online Dating – Psych Central

Your Turn!

How about you, readers? Have you ever been in any type of online relationship? What tips can you offer for keeping safe?

Image Credit | Creative Commons

Online Dating: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Getting Hurt

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2016). Online Dating: 7 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Getting Hurt. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Jan 2016
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