Many people have felt the consequences of isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the pandemic saying to have induced or worsened a pandemic in many people’s mental health. With so many people feeling lonely and isolated, many have turned to online dating. Adapting and finding new ways of social interaction has been a lifeline for many, however, when dating online we must also remember that there are risks. To keep as safe as possible when meeting new people online, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Due to being in lockdown, we’ve seen an influx in people now owning a camera of some kind - whether it be in their computer or on their phone. If you’ve started to talk to someone online and only know them from their pictures, you could suggest a video chat before you meet up. This way you know who you are talking to behind the camera and it may even eliminate any awkwardness if and when you do meet in person! However, it’s important to be aware of anything that might be in camera shot in your background - you don’t know what you might be unintentionally giving away e.g: street signs, a distinctive landmark or even family photos. You don’t want to give away any unnecessary information.
Another safety precaution to take is to meet in a public setting. This way if anything feels uncomfortable or the meeting starts to take a wrong turn, you can alert others for help. If you are in a more private isolated setting, getting away or getting help may be much harder. If they ask to meet at your house or theirs, suggest you go for coffee first in a public setting to make sure you feel comfortable around this person.
It’s always important to tell a friend or family member where you are going and who you are going with when meeting someone for the first time. Similarly, you could also share your phone location with a couple of friends so if you’re plans do change, they will be aware of where you are. It’s also always good to have a safe word that yo
u can text your friends in case you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, they can call and make an excuse for you to leave, or when you do leave, let them know when you’re expected to be home. Casually mentioning to your date that your friends know where you are and who you’re with is also a good precaution.
If you are drinking, ensure to keep an eye on your drinks as they can be easily spiked or contaminated. Don’t let your drink leave your sight and if you’re at a bar or club, don’t accept drinks that haven’t been made in front of you.
Dating is fun and exciting but as we start to go outside again and meet new people, it is more important than ever to be aware of your personal safety and to take the necessary precautions to feel as safe, comfortable and confident as possible. Everyone has the right to feel safe.