The digital era has made meeting a potential love match more difficult than ever. The struggles of many single adults have amplified thanks to less face-to-face contact and a bigger focus on virtual, online communication. With so many different dating apps available today, the popularity of these apps and websites has definitely increased over time. The online dating business is booming, with a total of 323.9 million users as of 2021.

While it’s certainly possible that you’ll meet a potential spouse online, staying focused on your safety and protecting your privacy is also important. Read on to learn more about how to use dating apps responsibly, so you can stay safe while also finding the relationships you really want.

Dating apps 101

There are plenty of reasons why people opt to use dating apps. You might want to meet someone new, start a new and exciting relationship, or simply find someone who shares common interests and wants to just chat. Unlike meeting people traditionally as you’d do at a club, concert, or bar, online dating allows you to sift through peoples’ personal profiles until you find someone that interests you. When you talk to someone in person, you instantly make real-life contact. However, dating apps let you start conversations slowly and from the comfort of your own home until you’re ready for a real-life meetup.

Some of the most popular dating apps available right now include:

  •  Tinder: This extremely popular app lets you view singles near you. You can “swipe right” if you like a profile and “swipe left” if you don’t. If both of you swipe right, it’s considered a possible match, and you have the opportunity to communicate with each other if you choose. A pro is that Tinder has lots of built-in security features, but some users think the swipe method to find a match is too superficial. Overall, this app is ideal for young professionals and young adults.
  • Bumble: Designed for women, Bumble only allows its female users to make the first move. This is advantageous for single females who may have concerns about their safety and privacy online. The app also has a BFF feature so that you can find new friends, too. Bumble is a versatile app, but you only have 24 hours to make a connection before the other person’s profile disappears.
  • Iris Dating:  One of the newer apps that came to change the way people interact on dating sites. What makes iris Dating different is that they use the new patented AI technology which can understand who you find attractive and matches mutually attracted people.  Also, every member on Iris is selfie verified which eliminates catfishing. Since its launch iris has banned over 200,000 catfishers. You can learn more here.
  •  Grindr: This dating app is geared toward gay men and members of the LGBT community. The app lets users view profiles of everyone nearby rather than forcing them to pick and choose. Many people prefer Grindr’s design because it’s less restrictive. However, heterosexual singles may have a tougher time finding a match there.
  • DOWN App: This app looks to fight back against scammers. DOWN App puts users in control of their connections while encouraging them to date with fully honest mode activated. Many people use it to find real connections and people that are clear with their intentions.

How to start using dating apps

Here are some tips to help you navigate dating apps in the best way possible for your needs:

  • Identify your boundaries and think about why you want to use a dating app before you register and set up your profile. This is a good way to help you avoid stress and to narrow down who you’re looking for.
  • There are plenty of reasons to use dating apps, and it’s completely normal these days. Enjoy the journey, and remember to have fun while you’re looking for new relationships. Many people have met their future wives or husbands through online dating, and you might, too.
  • Choose a quality profile picture that is taken in good lighting. Make sure your profile pic is recent and that it’s a realistic depiction of who you are and what you look like, not a “headshot” or a “glamor shot” style photo.
  • Be thorough when creating your bio and make sure users know your favorite hobbies, what you enjoy, and facts like where you were born or whether or not you want to have children. Make sure you’re careful when adding personal information to the app and never give away your address or other things that could compromise your security.
  • Start conversations casually and use a positive, upbeat tone. Ask questions about the other person and make sure that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. Keep the conversation flowing by asking open-ended questions.

Stay safe on dating apps

When using dating apps, always devise a safety plan and be careful when you communicate.

  • Approximately 55% of users have experienced some form of threat or other issues when using online dating, yet only 27% have actual security measures in place.
  • Communicating carefully and not giving away too much information will help you stay safe and in control.

Here are some key things to look for when you use dating apps:

  • Go over the dating app’s privacy settings and look at other considerations to keep you as safe as possible.
  • Limit permissions when installing the app or change them if you’ve already accepted them to limit access by potential scammers and other nefarious people.
  • Only allow dating apps to use your location data when you’re using it. Otherwise, disable access so that you can’t be found easily.
  • Keep your app password updated and change it regularly. This is a good way to avoid getting hacked.

When creating your profile, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Limit any personal information you share with others online to prevent scams and identity theft.
  • Use a variety of photos in your profile or change them often so people can’t find you using Google image search. Don’t use the same profile photo you have for your social media account.
  • Linking to social media accounts to dating apps increases your risk, so don’t do this if you can avoid it.

Be aware of dangerous behavior when using dating apps.

  • Don’t respond to requests for intimate photos, and block and report these users immediately.
  • Make sure you’re not talking to someone with a fake social media profile, a common tactic used in catfishing.
  • Always report users who send harassing, threatening, or offensive messages and anyone who asks for money or financial help.

Spotting and avoiding scams

Here are some ways you can identify and avoid scams:

  • Make sure you know how to identify a fake profile. Some people use these profiles in catfishing, a method used to lure victims so the perpetrator can commit a crime.
  • Be aware of the most common suspicious behaviors that scammers use. This includes asking for your financial information, users who claim to be widowed with children, those who give odd or vague answers to questions, and users who tell inconsistent stories. Avoid people who ask for your personal information or those who want to start a “long-distance relationship” with you.
  • Take steps to verify that the person you’re talking to is real:

o   Consider texting or using video calls a few times before you meet someone in person.

o   Look at a few potential matches’ social media accounts to get peace of mind. Research the account carefully and look for positive signs like engaging with other users, people who have a lot of friends and followers, and users who have an ample number of tagged photos so you can verify they are who they say.

o   Don’t be afraid to ask questions and have authentic conversations with someone you’re interested in before you actually meet.

  • If you spot a suspicious profile, make sure you stop all communication with the person, block them, and report them to the dating app’s security specialists immediately.

Meeting in person

When you meet a potential match in person, there are some key things to keep in mind:

  • The transition from meeting people offline to online can be challenging. You’re trying to gauge someone’s personality virtually before you meet them in “real life.”

o   Meet in a busy public place on your first date, so there’s less pressure during your first real-life encounter. A concert, dance club, or outdoor festival are good options.

o   Think about what you’d like to talk about in advance and plan your date ahead of time. Think of fun things you can do on a first date that you’ll enjoy and feel comfortable with.

o   Remember to take it slow and let things evolve organically rather than forcing it. You’ll know if there’s a real connection or not by the first date or two.

o   Consider getting a home security system installed by professional technicians near you just in case the person tells others your address and when you’re not at home.

  • Don’t forget to follow a few common-sense safety rules when meeting someone from a dating app in person. Creating a safety plan before a first date is a smart way to stay safe.

o   Tell your friends and family members where you’re going and give them whatever information you have about the person. Ask a few people to turn on the Find My Friends feature on their iPhone or use the Find Friends Pro app if they have an Android phone.

o   Don’t rely on your date for transportation. If you feel uncomfortable, let a bartender or wait staff know as soon as possible. Always meet in a public place and know your limits when it comes to things like consuming alcoholic beverages, so you don’t let your guard down.

o   Set clear boundaries with your date so that you feel safe once you’re there. Remember, trust your instincts if you start to feel uncomfortable, and listen to your gut if you feel like something is wrong.

Deleting the app

Perhaps you’ve found the love of your life, or maybe you’ve decided online dating isn’t right for you. Here are tips to consider when deleting dating apps:

  • You can “pause” your account until you’re ready to use it, but deleting your profile means you’ll have to start all over again.
  •  If you do delete the app, don’t forget to delete your profile, too.
  • Always make sure you unlink any external accounts associated with the app like social media profiles, etc.
  •  If the app won’t let you delete the account, replace your information with fake details and “generic” stock photos.

Keep these useful tips in mind before you dive into the world of dating apps. With the right security measures and these common sense tips, you could end up finding the relationship of a lifetime. Remember to protect your information when participating in online dating so you can avoid being scammed or becoming a victim of things like identity theft and hacking. Finally, don’t forget to have some fun and relax so that you can find the right match for you.