More often lately, people have found romance, fun, and companionship through dating apps and websites.

While the prevalence of this technology has ensured that most people using dating sites and apps are honest and sincerely looking for a healthy romantic or sexual interaction, it can sometimes be dangerous to start a relationship with someone you don’t know much about.

Online dating, like any form of dating, can result in abuse, stalking, harassment, or unhealthy situations. Luckily, online dating provides you with the opportunity to recognize red flags for dangerous behaviors before you even meet the person.

These red flags include:

  • An absence of info. One of the advantages of online dating is knowing right away what someone’s life and personality look like. You can easily discover someone’s hobbies and interests and assess whether they line up with your life or desires. As a result, a lot of thought goes into what to display in a profile. So, if someone reveals very little about themselves in their profile, it’s not always in an effort to be mysterious. This can be a warning sign that the person on the other end of the screen is hiding something or lying about who they are.

    The same logic applies once you begin talking with someone. If they only respond to texts at odd times of the day (such as very late at night), disappear for days on end, or avoid personal questions, this is a red flag.

  • A one-track mind. Online dating apps and sites are often used for a quick hook-up or a one-time-only sexual encounter. Even if this is the case, raunchy pick-up lines or sending unsolicited explicit photos may indicate that someone is more interested in your body than providing you with a respectful and safe experience.
  • A failure to negotiate. All forms of dating require compromise, even in the early days and hours. If someone is pressuring you to meet before you are ready, giving you a checklist of all the things they require in a future partner, sending you countless texts when you don’t respond, or trying to change your schedule to suit their needs, they are exhibiting a dangerous need for control. Everything from where to meet to when you meet should respect your boundaries. An inability or refusal to understand this could lead to further dangerous behaviors moving forward.

    While online dating often moves quickly, you are allowed to move at your own pace. Only send photos you feel comfortable sending, and don’t feel pressured to meet at a time or location you feel unsafe at. Remember that a short first date in public may be the safest option, and if the person at the other end of the conversation resists this, they might not be worth the hassle.

Dating is always a risk, but the reward of finding someone who is genuinely interested in you, shares your lifestyle or beliefs, and respects your boundaries is so fantastic! Knowing how to keep yourself safe while on this journey to healthy love is the best thing to ensure you will find someone who treats you with dignity and respect!