5 Tips for Staying Safe While Online Dating

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Our parents might have met locking eyes across the dancefloor, eyes lit up by the glow of a disco ball, but times have changed. If you don’t fancy anyone in your friend group and haven’t stayed in touch with anyone you met on a night out, dating apps can help you find eligible singles in your area – or all around the world. Whether you’re looking for long-term love or a summer fling, the apps have an overwhelming number of new faces to take your fancy.

Whilst many people on the apps are genuine (or at least genuinely who they say they are), it’s always a good idea to be careful when talking to someone you’ve never met. There are scammers, catfish and dangerous people out there, so it’s important to keep yourself safe and never do anything if you feel uncomfortable or unsure. Read on for our list of top tips to help keep you safe whilst online dating!

1: Be mindful of what you share online

Unless you’ve met in person or video chatted, you can’t be certain who you’re talking to is who they say they are – and even if they are who they say they are, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are trustworthy and have your best interests at heart.

Avoid sharing personal details, like your address and place of work, with people you don’t know that well. Sharing nudes and intimate images or messages is always a personal choice, so just because someone shared something with you doesn’t mean that you have to return the favour, or that you have to send anything if you feel at all uncomfortable doing so. 

Unfortunately, some people do not respect the privacy of others, and some people find that their trust is violated when someone shares their images without their knowledge or consent. Some people may feel more comfortable sharing photos without their face, whilst others may prefer not to share nudes or sexual images at all. It is a personal choice, and it’s about what you are comfortable with and what you want to do – not what someone else is asking you to do.

If you add each other on social media, take a look at their profiles to make sure what they’ve said to you lines up. This can be a good way to spot red flags, and also to check if the profiles are genuine. Having a low amount of followers, not many photos and no stories with other people isn’t always a red flag, but remember that fake profiles do exist and trust your gut instincts.

2: Meet in a public place

Whenever you’re meeting someone for the first time, it is a really good idea to meet them in a public place and let someone know where you’re going beforehand. You want to make sure that 1: the person you’re meeting is who they say they are, and 2: they are someone you actually want to spend time with. 

It’s hard to get a real sense of who someone is online, and you might find that when you meet in person you don’t feel comfortable, or you don’t want to take things forward. 

Meeting in a public place not only means you can make a quick getaway if you’ve been catfished, but it also gives you a chance to get to know the person and suss out how you feel around them.

3: Decide what you will and won’t accept in a partner

When you’re thinking about dating someone new, it’s a good idea to come up with a list of things you do and do not find acceptable in relationships, so that you know what your boundaries and expectations are.

This could look like a pros and cons list, or journaling, or whatever works for you. What you do and don’t find acceptable is personal and should be what feels right to you, not what you think you should feel. For example, if consistency is important to you and someone is being hot and cold, that could be a red flag.

Some common red flags to look out for are how they approach consent (do they try to pressure you into doing things you’re not ready for or comfortable with), how they feel about you having your own space (do they suddenly want to spend every waking second with you), are they open to communication and feedback, and are they being honest. 

Remember that how you feel is important. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t dismiss it. There are plenty of people out there, and you don’t have to settle for someone who doesn’t share your values.

4: Make time for yourself

It can be easy to fall into the habit of getting into a new relationship and wanting to spend all your time with that person, to the point where you end up cancelling on your friends and neglecting your hobbies.

The honeymoon period is lovely and it makes sense that you may want to prioritise this new person, but it’s also important to make sure you have time for other areas of your life. If you want to be with someone long term, they should become a great part of your life which complements other areas – they should not become your life.

Whether you’re looking for marriage, a FWB or anything in between, making balanced choices and not losing yourself will help you nurture this and your other existing relationships.

5: Think about your contraceptive options

Condoms are the only contraceptive option which also protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so it’s a good idea to use them with a new partner or anyone where you’re not sure of their status. It’s recommended that you get a sexual health check up when you get a new partner. Talking about STIs may not feel sexy, but feeling comfortable and safe will make the sex a lot better!

There are a bunch of different contraceptive methods and there is no one size fits all. Many people may try a few options before settling on something which works for them, so if you’re not happy with your current contraceptive don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your GP or pharmacist about your options.

Did you know that you can buy some daily contraceptive pills, like Hana®, over the pharmacy counter or online with no need for a doctor’s appointment? 

We know that accidents can happen. Condoms break, pills can be missed and sometimes people just get caught up in the moment. If you’ve had unprotected sex or experienced contraceptive failure, ellaOne® is the most effective morning after pill*. It works by delaying ovulation, so it holds the egg back and any sperm won’t have anything to fertilise.

What are your tips for staying safe while online dating? Let us know!


ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure.

Hana® 75µg film-coated tablets contains desogestrel and is an oral contraception for women of child bearing age to prevent pregnancy. Always read the instructions on the package leaflet carefully.