Online dating refers to the process of using internet-based platforms to connect and potentially form romantic and non-romantic relationships with other people. This modern form of dating has become increasingly popular over the years as more and more turn to technology to find love and companionship.
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Why is Online Dating so common?
Do you have friends who recommend online dating platforms or have met their significant other on one? Why is online dating so attractive you may ask? It is because of its accessibility with the rise of smartphones and the internet. Most may be busy with life and do not have the time to connect face to face as such, these platforms make it easy for people to connect around the world from the comfort of their own homes, without the need to frequent bars, clubs, or other social venues.
Because these platforms are so easily accessible, one should also be on guard when meeting and speaking to strangers they first meet. This article touches on 5 things you can look out for when using online dating platforms. But first, we look at what online platforms there are out there.
What are some popular online platforms, and how do you use them?
Almost all online dating platforms allow users to filter potential partners based on specific criteria such as age, location, interests, and even compatibility based on personality tests. This can save a lot of time and effort compared to traditional dating, where it can be difficult to find someone who meets all of these criteria.
These platforms differ in their matching algorithms, target audiences, and user interfaces, among other features. Do remember to do your research and choose a site that aligns with your preferences and goals for online dating. Some of these popular online platforms are:
- Tinder: A popular dating app that uses a swiping system to match users with potential partners based on location and mutual attraction. Users can view photos and short profiles of other users and swipe right to indicate interest or left to reject.
- OkCupid: A dating site that emphasises user-generated content and offers a wide range of questions and quizzes to help users find compatible matches based on shared values and interests.
- Bumble: A dating app that requires women to make the first move. Once a match is made, the woman has 24 hours to initiate a conversation, after which the man has 24 hours to respond.
Why should we all practice Safe Online Dating?
While online dating can be a great way to meet new people and potentially find a romantic partner, it is however important to be aware of some of the potential risks and dangers associated with it, this includes fraud and scams, cat fishing, and cyberstalking. Individuals can create fake profiles to deceive others, in most cases for romantic or financial gain, or be harassed and threatened through unwanted contact.
It is thus encouraged to always engage in safe online dating practices and be alert on what can potentially be a risk.
Safe Online Dating: What to look out for?
Fortunately, there are things one can look out for to be safe on online dating platforms. While it requires vigilance and awareness to recognise these warning signs, do note that there are many other red flags that may raise a concern and would require you to trust your instincts. If something feels off or makes you uncomfortable, take steps to protect yourself.
1. Multiple accounts with the same pictures but different names
As what the header suggests, there are people out there who make multiple accounts with the same photos but are named differently. One common reason is that they may be trying to deceive others by creating multiple profiles in order to scam or catfish them. By creating may accounts, they are casting their net to see who will fall and start a conversation. In some dating platforms such has Hinge has a discover page, which you would also interact with and see through the pool of people. Should you encounter a profile with the same face but different name, be alert and remember not to interact.
Another possibility is that they could be using different accounts to experiment with different identities or to separate different parts of their personal lives. This reason too can be considered suspicious and it is encouraged to take precaution.
2. Inconsistent or Incomplete Profile Information
After having swiped through a few people, you will get used to the template of profiles and what types of questions and photos people post. To make profiles fun, users may be prompted to share something about themselves by answering prompt questions or conversation starters. Recognising inconsistency and incomplete profile information is one way to detect the authenticity of the user. If the user is serious and puts in effort towards making their profile raw and attractive, prompts will be answered with some originality.
Apart from the inconsistency in prompts responses, here are some other examples of inconsistent or incomplete profile information:
- Photos that don’t match the profile information: If a profile claims to belong to someone of a certain age or ethnicity, but the photos suggest otherwise.
- Profile information that is vague or generic: If the profile information is very general and does not provide much detail about the person’s interests, hobbies, or personality.
- Profile information that is too good to be true: If the profile information is filled with superlatives and makes grand claims about the person’s career, education, or accomplishments.
3. Quick to ask personal questions
There may be some users who ask personal questions early on when getting to know you. Scammers and fraudsters often try to collect personal information such as our full name, address, phone number, or financial information in order to steal identities or commit fraud. By being cautious and protecting our personal information, we can minimise the risk of becoming a victim of fraud or other online dangers. Additionally, it is important to take things slowly and get to know someone better before sharing any sensitive information.
4. Quick to love bomb
Love bombing is when someone overwhelms another with affection, attention, and grand gestures in an attempt to quickly establish an intense emotional connection. Love bombers may shower their partner with gifts, compliments, and promises of commitment and may even try to isolate them from their friends and family. While this may seem flattering and exciting at first, it can be a red flag as an intentional attempt to control and potentially manipulate. By overwhelming them with attention and affection, they may be trying to create a sense of dependency and control over the relationship.
It is always encouraged to take things slow, establish healthy boundaries, and prioritise your own emotional well-being in any relationship.
5. Edited Photos
Edited photos are more common than ever now because of the popularity of social media and the increasing use of photo editing apps and software. Many desire to present a curated and idealised version of themselves online, hence may edit photos to enhance their appearance or create a certain image.
Scammers can use edited photos to lure victims by creating a false image of themselves that is more convincing by being more attractive, successful, or desirable than their true identity, and eventually attempt to trick someone into a romantic or financial relationship.
Additionally, scammers may use edited photos as part of a phishing scam, where they send fake emails or messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or organisation. A fake photo or logo can be edited, which can trick people into giving up their personal or financial information.
To protect yourself, one can use reverse image search tools to check if a photo has been used elsewhere online, or asking the person to provide additional photos or information to confirm their identity. Should you feel uncomfortable or your gut is telling otherwise, you may want to share your concerns with a friend or family for a 2nd opinion.
While online dating can be a safe and rewarding experience, it is important to remain vigilant and take steps to protect our personal information and emotional well-being. This includes being cautious of scammers and cat fishing activities, avoiding sharing sensitive information too early, and taking the time to get to know someone before moving forward.
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