5 Tips for Dating Safely Online

On August 19, 2016, Adam Hilarie, a loving single father, aspiring boxer and resident of Winter Haven Florida became the latest victim of an online dating scam which resulted in his death. He met a woman name Hailey Bustos on Plentyoffish.com and even went out on a date with her.  After taking her back to his place that night, the pair arranged to meet up again the following night.  Instead of coming by herself, she brought along three other men which resulted in Hilarie being shot in the head and killed.  Hilarie begged for his life asking the robbers to spare his life because of his 5 year-old daughter but they didn’t.  After shooting him, they proceeded to rob his place of electronics that were scoped out the night before by Bustos.

On line dating has exploded in the past few years.  First regulated to dating sites like Match.com or Plentyoffish.com, today’s young adults are dating mobile as they text, tweet, snap or chat on the go.  According to a July 2015 study done by the Pew Research Center in conjunction with Princeton Survey Research Associates,  15% of American adults report that they have used online dating sites and/or mobile dating apps, up from the 11% who reported doing so in early 2013.  41% of Americans surveyed know someone who uses online dating and 29% know someone who has met a spouse or long-term partner via online dating.  As the pace of dating has increased with the acceptance of on-line relationships, so has the incidences of crime.  Crime resulting from an online connection range from identify theft to rape, burglary or homicide.

As more people look for love through the internet and their phones, it is important to keep in mind ways to date safely online.  Here are 5 Tips for Dating Safely Online:

  1. Do Face Time in Person Instead of on Your I-Phone. If you start texting or e-mailing someone online, the person you are getting to know may not be totally forthcoming about themselves.  Face timing may be a good start but good old fashion face to face dating gives you a better idea of how that person responds to questions, their body language and how honest they are about themselves and their history.
  1. Always First Meet in a Public Place. Coffee shops, bars, the movie theater, even police stations are better options than meeting up at your residence.  This keeps your private life and belongings private away from the prying eyes of a scammer.
  1. Use the Buddy System. Take along a friend to give you a good assessment of the person you are dating.  If you do decide to meet someone alone in public always inform a friend where you will be and have them check in with you on how the date is going.
  1. Don’t Disclose Too Much. When you meet someone new you want to impress them.  You might disclose your interests or your job but never disclose your assets, how much money you make and which neighborhood you live in.  Disclosing this information lets criminals know if you might be a good target for robbery.
  1. Use the 3 Date Rule. It might be tempting to hook up with someone on the first date especially if there is mutual attraction and if you’ve been texting for days but use the 3 Date Rule.  If someone is willing to date you in public 3 times without any expectations for sex, money or wanting to go to your residence, they might be a person worth investing your time in.  Set clear expectations when you first meet someone online and if they can’t respect you then they might not be worth dating.

As online dating continues to grow it is important to guard not just your heart but your life.  Be smart about your safety and how you allow yourself to be vulnerable to others.  Remember that true love takes time to develop and if someone wants to hook up too soon you might be putting your life not just your heart at risk. For more relationship advice and counseling on relationship problems, please contact a licensed professional.

Image Source: Mirror UK

Author: Lyris Steuber, MS, LMFT is a Lake Mary Child Play Therapist, Teen & Relationship Counselor with Total Life Counseling Center. If you’re looking for Lake Mary Relationship Coaching Services or Lake Mary Child Teen Counseling our experts can be reached at (407) 248-0030.