Nature has fashioned human beings to develop a desire to have a romantic relationship (Smith & Duggan, 2013). However, numerous obstacles exist that hinder a person from meeting their soul mate. For instance, one may wish to date in the office, but the company policy prohibits such a move. Or a person might not like the bar scene hence tend to be less keen to establish a soul mate while trekking. Technology has offered online dating, a platform where lonely hearts find their soul mates. This paper aims at explaining how to be careful when dating online. It outlines why people might not be aware of the dangers of online dating and how it affects people’s mindsets. The paper also offers other sources one can use to find a mate.
Although online dating might be a simple way of building a relationship, it has its dangers, and people need to be careful when using the platform. The primary way a person can protect him/herself is by investigating a dating site before creating a profile. When handling an unknown dating site, it is essential to avoid giving out money or personal information (Smith & Duggan, 1). A simple Google search should be done first to confirm whether the dating site is safe. After the authenticity of a dating site has been established, the next step is avoiding disclosing too much personal information. Dating sites are accessible to everyone. Therefore, identifying information like full name, birthday, where one stays, workplace, and educational institution attended can be used for identity theft, stalking, and even cyber bullying.
With a profile already set, the next step to safeguard one’s safety is deciding who to meet. A great profile should not be reason enough to have a first date. It is essential to have a chat with the person to establish if what they say is believable. Secondly, one should run the profile picture through Google images to ascertain the person’s authenticity (Ellison, 2006). After confirming the authenticity of a person, the next step is the actual meeting. At this juncture, the precaution to make is to ensure that the meeting is in a familiar public place. Some of the things to avoid entail:
- Being picked from home
- Meeting at the stranger’s house
- Hanging out in a secluded area
Lastly, with the date set, one should generate an exit strategy ahead of time. The date may not go as planned, and one may feel unsafe, which makes it essential to have a way out at one’s convenience. Making up an excuse on the spot is awkward; thus, one can liaise with a friend who can bail them out of the situation.
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As outlined above, caution is necessary when dating online because it exposes one to identity theft, personal endangerment, child endangerment, and health risks. However, many people are oblivious of these dangers due to their busy lives, increased traveling, work relocation, and lack of family and community connections (Valkenburg & Peter, 2007). Other people may have difficulty finding dates in the offline world, making online dating their only choice. Additionally, some choose online dating to handle their body dissatisfaction and body shame. They also use the sites for body monitoring, internalize societal expectation of beauty, compare with others physically, and validate appearance and attractiveness (Hall et al., 2010). Once a person receives validation, they throw the cares to the wind as they want to hold dearly the perceptions offered by strangers.
In terms of effects, online dating has serious repercussions. For instance, it increases the likelihood of being rejected. An online rejection makes the body behave similarly to the way the brain reacts after physical pain (Finkel et al., 2012). The use of online dating is also linked to lower self-esteem as well as body image issues. The use of online apps also results in depression because it encourages people to objectify themselves and continuously compare themselves to others. Lastly, the use of online dating may cause tech addiction. Research outlines that at least 15% of the singles who date online have felt addicted to the process (Finkel et al., 2012).
Similarly, millennial also report that they have felt addicted to online dating and 54% of women reports being burnt out after using the dating services. In addition, increased tech addiction is linked to depression and anxiety. According to a study whose participants were people who self-described themselves to be addicted to the internet, cellphones indicated higher depression and anxiety scales (Finkel et al., 2012).
To avoid the adverse effects of online dating, one can opt to use other available options. The first one is mega dating, where one dates several different people to diffuse energy and keep the social calendar full. Mega dating will help in not only handling rejection but also avoiding settling for the mediocre. Since meeting someone is not by chance, one can meet their loved one through friends. Research indicates that most people between years 18 and 34 have met their significant other through their mutual friends (Lovz, 2018). Another option is speed dating, where one meets face-to-face with various people at one time. The alternative has limited time, reducing pressure, but it helps in enhancing charisma and confidence. Speed dates can be accessed through speed dating events.
Another option that one can use is adventure groups. The groups are involved in activities like hiking, city tours, skiing, biking, and kayaking, among others. The approach helps in meeting a person with a similar interest, which is crucial in building connections and making long-term relationships (Lovz, 2018). One can also opt to go out and say hi to ten new people in a week. The act enhances one’s social skills and increases confidence which increases the chances of getting a date. Lastly, one can use the bar scene, although one should be cautious because most people in entertainment joints may not be interested in a long-term relationship.
In conclusion, online dating offers one a platform to get a significant other. Nevertheless, one should take caution when using the platform because it exposes them to many risks. As a way of preventing these risks:
- One should use the already confirmed safe apps
- Avoid giving personal information
- Take caution on whom to meet
- Meet in public places
- Have an exit strategy already set in case things don’t work out.
Some people may not be aware of the dangers that lurk in the online dating arena due to their busy schedules, lack of options, and need for validation. Additionally, the use of the platform can increase pain after rejection, depression, self-esteem problems, and tech addiction. These problems can be avoided by using friends to meet one’s significant other, speed-date, adventure groups, random his, and bar scene. The idea is to get a significant other with minimal adverse effects as no one is perfect entirely.
Ellison, N., Heino, R., & Gibbs, J. (2006). Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of computer-mediated communication, 11(2), 415-441.
Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public interest, 13(1), 3-66.
Hall, J. A., Park, N., Song, H., & Cody, M. J. (2010). Strategic misrepresentation in online dating: The effects of gender, self-monitoring, and personality traits. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27(1), 117-135.
Lovz, E. (2018). 11 Best Alternatives to Online Dating (Options Other Than Online Dating). Retrieved 27 July 2019, from https://www.emlovz.com/11-best-alternatives-to-online-dating/
Smith, A. W., & Duggan, M. (2013). Online dating & relationship. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.
Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2007). Who visits online dating sites? Exploring some characteristics of online daters. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(6), 849-852.