Whether you have recently come out or have finally found the courage to begin dating, you are more than ready to meet your special someone. You are probably a mix of exhilarated, empowered, excited and a wee bit nervous; you have heard some of the horror stories of dating in the LGBTQ world from your friends and you are definitely going into the experience with your eyes wide open.
In order to stay as safe as possible as you begin to navigate the LGBTQ dating world, please consider the following safety tips:
Meeting new people in public gives you way more safety options. You could even suggest a double date and bring along a couple of close friends. If the person you want to meet is a good caliber, he or she shouldn’t have any issues with these suggestions. If the person who shows up doesn’t look anything like what you saw on the LGBTQ dating site and/or what he or she texted you—or if anything else causes red flags to go up for you—leave the date immediately.
Meeting in a busy Starbucks or a popular local café is definitely better, at least for the first few dates, than inviting a virtual stranger into your home. As an additional safety tip, if you do meet the person by yourself in public, let a number of close friends know your exact plans, including when and where you are meeting and the name of the person you are seeing.
If you have signed up with one or more LGBTQ dating sites, be super careful with how much personal information you share. While these sites can be good ways to meet great people, they can also be frequented by scammers who are only looking for your personal info to steal. Be especially vigilant about avoiding age and date verification scams. The way this works is that someone posing to be a decent person will ask you to verify who you are, for their safety. They will then direct you to a date verification site that says it’s a free service—but little do you know, the site has well-hidden charges that will sign you up for a series of dating or even porno sites, to the tune of anywhere between $40 to $170 a month. Run for the proverbial hills if someone online asks you to use one of these websites, and as a backup, consider purchasing an identity theft protection plan as well. This way, as you join online dating sites and enter personal info like credit card details and other sensitive data online, you’ll have an extra layer of protection to immediately alert you if anything seems amiss.
While you shouldn’t fall for the age and date verification scams, this does not mean it’s a bad idea to try to learn some important info about your upcoming date. If you meet someone on a dating site and think you want to go out in person, Google the person’s name to see if anything troubling pops up, and check out his or her social media pages. You can also use reputable websites like BeenVerified to run a criminal background check on the person and find out more about his or her past. You can also use a reverse image search on Google to see if the gorgeous photo your date sent you is really him or her or if someone is catfishing you.
Entering the dating world can definitely be a wonderful experience, but it pays to be extremely cautious and a little skeptical. You are a good person and you deserve only the best, so as you dip your toes into the LGBTQ dating pool, keep your guard up, be extremely safe about where you meet and channel your inner Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys to learn as much as you can about whoever you are meeting.