How To Safely Use Dating Apps To Find The One

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but dating in the modern age is pretty interesting. It's nothing like it was back then when suitors courted you or women had dowries (aka it's nothing like "Bridgerton"). These days, most people rely on dating apps to meet "the one," with over 300 million people from across the globe using dating apps (via Business of Apps).


Dating apps aren't in short supply, either. You've got the OGs like, OkCupid, and eHarmony, along with the new age apps like Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder, just to name a few. Though these dating apps are fun, you have to remember that it's the internet and nine times out of 10, people can be scummy. This first came to light when Nev Schulman released his documentary "Catfish" in 2010, which he then turned into a TV show that we've all seen at some point. Not only that but there are countless horror stories of Tinder dates gone wrong along with "Dateline" specials.

Ultimately, what we're trying to tell you is that if you're going to use dating apps, you should try your best to do it safely. Therefore, we've compiled a list of tips and tricks that make dating apps safe and fun to use.


Let's not put your full name out there

Most dating apps only show your first name, and it's okay to keep it that way. In fact, University of Michigan professor Nicole Ellison explained, "Once you have the last name, that unlocks this whole new universe of information. You can go to their social media sites, Google the person, look up criminal histories" (via The Wall Street Journal).


She's not wrong, either. If they have your full government name, they're 10 times more likely to find you on other social media platforms, and chances are that you may not be ready for that. You should want there to be some sort of mystique to you, and you can't have that if they're spying on you like an FBI agent. They could even be your FBI Agent — who knows? Besides, why would a complete stranger need your full name? Some even go as far as using nicknames or fake names on dating apps, and we can't really blame them.

"I've slept with men before I've shared my full name," holistic practitioner Sandra LaMorgese explains, adding that she normally goes by "Sandy" (via the New York Post). Celebs are no exception. "Twilight" actor Kellan Lutz would go by "Sebastian" when on the dating app Raya, which is one of the most elite dating apps out there (via Page Six).


Don't add any identifying information, either

In a similar vein, don't add any personal/identifying information. When you do, you're essentially doing all the internet creeping for your match. While we aren't condoning it, at least try not to make it easy on them. What qualifies as personal or identifying information, though? Your phone number, address, and other contact info should be left out of your bio entirely. For some, that might sound self-explanatory, but there are others who may not have considered this before.


Not only should you leave it out of your bio, but you also shouldn't answer any matches that are asking for personal information. You might think they're trying to figure out your birth chart, but they could be planning to steal your identity or go all creep mode. "Let someone be curious about you vs. giving it all away," dating coach Erika Ettin tells Elite Daily. There are some things you should leave out of the conversation, too, at least until you feel like they've earned your trust. On the flip side, don't go asking them for personal information, either.

Don't include your exact location

Now, this should be super obvious: don't, under any circumstance, tell your matches your exact location. While dating apps always ask for your location, it doesn't mean you have to give them the exact coordinates. Apps like Hinge, for example, give you the option to give a general idea of your surrounding neighborhood without fully pinpointing where you are.


However, some apps may be untrustworthy with your location with you knowing. Kaspersky Lab conducted research that ultimately cited that Tinder, Mamba, Zoosk, Happn, WeChat, and Paktor were the dating apps most likely to have users' locations hacked (via Secure List).

You're putting yourself at risk when you let them know where you live, which is also why you should never have your first date in your home. A date can go from fun to "Dateline" very quickly. This was the tragic reality for Lauren Smith-Fields, who was found dead in her apartment after having a man whom she met on Bumble over (via The New York Times). Sadly, she isn't the only woman to have this experience. Another woman, Samantha Stewart, was also found dead in her home after inviting a Tinder date over (via NBC News).


Take advantage of the dating app safety features

As time's gone on, dating apps have also realized that people can be scum, and more times than not, these incidents have happened at the hands of men. A study conducted by Pew Research Center found that female users between the ages of 18 and 34 are about twice as likely as their male counterparts to say someone on a dating site or app has called them an offensive name, continued to contact them after they said they were not interested, or threatened to physically harm them.


Because of that, most dating apps now offer in-app safety features that you should consider using. Bumble was definitely a game-changer in this arena. According to AdGully, some of Bumble's safety feature updates included requiring photo identification for users, letting women send messages first before men, and the introduction of in-app video calls, which allow users to ensure that they're actually speaking with the person whose pictures they swiped on. This is probably why Bumble is the second most downloaded dating app as of June 2022 (via Statista).

With Tinder being the most downloaded dating app, it's also made an effort to increase its safety features. As of March 2022, Tinder has paired up with Garbo to begin running background checks on matches to see if they've been arrested or convicted of a violent crime or are on a sex offender registry (via The Washington Post).


Internet stalking is inevitable, so make sure your socials aren't too easy to find

Social media plays a major role in our everyday lives. Seriously, many people are addicted to scrolling. That being the case, it's only natural that you might want to share your socials on your dating profiles, but should you? 


One way people may put themselves at risk is by connecting their Instagram account to their dating app account(s), but you need to first consider what information about yourself is available on your Instagram (via CNET). After all, you can find out so much about a person through their social media. 

The idea of people knowing a lot about is scary, but not as scary as essentially handing your personal information to hackers on a silver platter. On this, UPenn professor Joseph Turow explains, "There is a possibility that someone will attach a name to your photo. If you appear in a photo of friends who also have been tagged, people with malign intent can try to trace these relationships and use them to fool people into giving up information" (via Penn Today).


If you still feel inclined to add your socials, at least put them on private so you can know who's trying to look at you. 

Something feels off about your match? Trust your gut

For the most part, it's pretty easy to vibe check someone. Now, we aren't saying to judge a book by its cover, but rather to trust your gut if something feels off to you. If something about their account seems suspicious, you're probably right. "If a person seems too perfect, it's a red flag you could be dealing with a fake," says dating expert Jonathan Bennett (via Bustle). As cliché as it sounds, some people are just too good to be true.


According to a recent study by DatingScout, "around 90% of people in the online dating scene are legitimate users who want to look for real love, fun flirts, friendship and other types of companionship, while 10% is made up of people who sign-up to online dating sites so they can scam people to either steal their identity or their money." They also want you to remember that there can be some bad apples in the 90% too. "Among the 90% of legitimate users, you have your fair share of liars, cheaters, psychos, and manipulators," the study continues. Overall, just trust your gut.

Make sure they are who they say they are

Seeing that DatingScout pointed out that 10% of people on dating apps aren't who they say they are, you should do your due diligence to make sure you know who you're dealing with. After all, you probably don't want to find yourself on the hit show "Catfish."


Luckily, there are ways you can tell if you're dealing with a fake profile. The number one tell-tale sign? Their profile pictures. If they only have one or two pictures, they look like stock or celebrity photos, or they don't have any full body pictures, you may want to raise some red flags. Another thing to look out for is how their messages are worded. "If the wording and grammar on the profile seem off ... it is a sign you could be dealing with a fake or a bot," explains dating expert Jonathan Bennett (via Bustle). With those tips in mind, stay on the lookout so as to avoid potentially harmful situations.

Still unsure? You could always FaceTime them

If you're still feeling iffy about your matches, you can always FaceTime them. Consider it a pre-screening of sorts.

You'll definitely know something's up if they're not willing to FaceTime or talk on the phone. Author Camille Virginia explains that these pre-screening calls have become commonplace in online dating. "With people lying about age, looks, and social skills becoming increasingly common in online encounters, people want to make sure they aren't wasting their valuable time on a dishonest person," she advises (via Elle).


Honestly, it's not such a bad idea. You're figuring out if they're potentially catfishing you, and calling before a date can also relieve some of the anxiety and awkwardness that comes with first dates. Furthermore, content manager Steph adds, "If you speak to someone on the phone they become more real than a face you swiped on a screen. It might make us feel just a little safer" (via Elle). It never hurts to give it a try.

FaceTiming doesn't mean you have to give them your number

Just because you want to FaceTime or call doesn't mean you should hand out your phone number like candy.

USA Today columnist Steven Petrow knows firsthand how giving out your phone number can have unexpected results. Petrow recants how a man had finished dinner near his place and arrived at his home a mere two minutes after texting him about dinner. He then adds that he asked the man how he knew his address, and he replied that it was a no-brainer: he had his phone number.


So, how can you avoid this? Well, Bumble has a solution. In 2019, it began offering video chats and voice calls through the app (via CNET). However, if you do feel comfortable giving out a phone number, it doesn't have to be your personal number. TextNow, for instance, is a great option for talking to someone without needing to give them your actual phone number.

Don't rush meeting IRL

Seeing that you can have video chats or phone calls, there's no need to rush meeting in person. Remember, this is all about your safety, so if you don't feel comfortable with meeting in person yet, you don't have to. The real question is: how long should you wait before meeting them in person?


On this, dating expert Hayley Quinn says, "One to two weeks is the optimum about of time, as it gives you time to get to know them, but not too much time that you overthink or the spark fizzles" (via Cosmopolitan). This makes sense because you don't want to give them enough time to lose interest.

Quinn also agrees that you should be wary of people who are trying to meet up too quickly because they're most likely rushing into things. "While meeting up really quickly can feel romantic, that can be quite misleading," she adds (via The Hour). There's nothing wrong with taking your time; you just have to find the happy medium between too soon and too late. 

Ready to meet? Do it in public

This feels like something we shouldn't have to explain, but if you're going to meet in person, do it in a public space (via Rainn). Just because the pre-screening call(s) may go well doesn't mean you should let all of your guards down.


There are so many places you can go for a first date that isn't your home (or theirs, for that matter). You can go get coffee, go bowling, to a museum — anywhere that's in public. Bars, however, may not be great for a first date because being inebriated around a stranger may not be the best idea.

Plus, meeting in a public location allows you to let friends know where you are, which is crucial. In fact, you should consider doing this for the first several dates, not just your first one. All we know is that, with all the stats and horror stories we've all heard about online dating, you're better off in a public setting. 

Give your friends and family the rundown

If you're about to go on a date with a stranger you met online, you should do a cop-like debriefing with your friends and family. In fact, Cosmopolitan asked women how they stay safe when online dating, and one responded that she and her roommate have a pact in which they offer each other their locations for their dates, the time of their dates, and the man's name and photos — everything you need to keep your friend safe.


In fact, it's also pretty common for girls and women to share their locations. By this, we mean that many women share their locations, such as with Find My Friends, so that they can always keep tabs on each other. After all, you never know when you may need this information, and it can always be revoked if the friendship dissipates (via Tech Crunch).

Granted, apps like Find My Friends are only giving your phone's location, so you should take it a step further and still give your friend(s) as much information as you have about your date.

Don't let your date be your ride

Another tip? Never, ever let your date be your ride. Not only is it ridiculously unsafe, but it can also put you in some awkward/uncomfortable situations.

TikTok user @jaipurlan shared her experience in a series of videos that capture her conversation with her date. She allowed her date to be her ride, but she rejected his offer to go home with him, which is when things went awry. "We spent the whole day together obviously I'm attracted to you. I don't know what the issue is. You can either come back to my place or walk [home]," her date says in one of the videos.


Safety-wise, if your date is your ride, they'll know where you live — and, though it's grim, there is always the chance of being kidnapped. So, it's for the best if you drive yourself as it gives you more control of the situation.

Furthermore, when Cosmopolitan asked women about their safety tips when it comes to dating, one offered a clever rule about driving. When parking in public, only pay for an hour, so you always have an excuse to leave. If the date went well, you can schedule a second one, but if it didn't, you got out okay.

Always have an extraction plan

Last, but certainly not least, always have a way out. You could do the parking meter excuse or have a designated emergency extraction person. By this, we mean that you should have a friend who is willing and able to be available during the date time so that they can help get you out of it if need be.


Don't have an emergency extraction person? Use someone in your location. If you're at a café or bar, make your barista or bartender your new best friend. A bar in St. Petersburg, Florida, for instance, created the "angel shot." There's no alcohol involved, but rather a secret code. "If a guest orders an angel shot neat, a bartender will escort them to their car. If they order it with ice, the bartender will call an Uber or a Taxi. Order it with lime and the restaurant staff will call the police," explains bar owner Russell Andrade (via the Tampa Bay Times). Many bartenders have been through this drill before, so never feel scared to ask. 

We don't want this information about online dating to scare you. On the contrary, we want you to have fun; we just also want you to be safe.