Tips for safe online dating


Understanding how online dating sites work can help you maximize the chances of meeting someone and minimize the chances of being scammed.

There’s no evidence that paid dating sites are any more effective than free sites, or that paid sites are any less prone to cat fishing and fraud than free sites. 

Online dating sites match people using a number of factors. Age is one, obviously. But each has their own algorithm. Some focus on levels of romantic or sexual passion and levels of extroversion. A few, such as Bumble, Grindr, and Tinder use GPS data. Some sites use unusual questions to try to categorize you, so be prepared.

If you truly are interested in meeting someone for a long term relationship, don’t rely on just one dating site. Each site markets itself differently and as a result, attracts different members.

Similarly, don’t give up sites that have reputations for being only for people whose goals might not match your own. For instance, a site known for long term relationships when you’re looking for something more casual, or the reverse. Every site has people who are there for different reasons. And every site, even those that tough their spiritual bases, have scammers.

The goal of your dating profile is to get attention in less than 400 words. Try to make people laugh or smile. Instead of stringing together adjectives about yourself, use anecdotes. It’s better to be humble and self effacing than to brag. 

NEVER lie about your age and don’t use a photo that’s more than two years old. Include a full body profile, not just head shots. You don’t want there to be any surprises when you meet someone.

Dating sites make it very hard for you to leave. Most will require you to sign up for auto renewals and will hide that requirement in the fine print. They will force you to go through many steps, perhaps even calling on the telephone and waiting hours to speak with an operator to cancel your membership.

Don’t let these efforts keep you from cancelling your membership if you meet someone or choose not to use that site any longer. Having a site could be very embarrassing if you end up in a relationship.

Sites are filled with “zombie profiles” of people who don’t go through the effort of cancelling. Consider filtering your own searches to exclude these inactive profiles.