With all of the responsibilities taking up your day, it can be difficult to meet new people. Making friends is hard enough, and finding a partner can be even more of a challenge. Luckily, technology has helped to streamline the dating process, as applications have popped up designed for this express purpose. Before you can jump into an app, take these things into consideration to ensure your comfort, happiness, and safety during your dating journey.
1. Your Preferences in a Partner
Everybody has some kind of preference for a partner, whether it be personality-based, looks-based, or both. Consider what you’re looking for before you post your profile, but also try to keep an open mind. The longer your list, the less likely you are to find somebody who checks all of the boxes. And in the end, chemistry comes in unexpected forms — one shared interest may be all it takes to cultivate a spark.
Your preferences are also important when it comes to what type of relationship you’re looking for. Are you looking for a partner willing to make a serious commitment or something less intense? This can help you narrow down the dating pool to people who want the same thing. Additionally, you can use this preference to help you choose the most appropriate dating app for you. Different apps exist solely for casual encounters, for example, while others emphasize serious and potentially long-term relationships.
2. Consent and Communication
Before jumping into the dating game, make sure you have an understanding of and respect for personal boundaries. If your meet-up goes well, how far do you think you’ll be comfortable going (sexually, emotionally, etc.), and how can you express that? You don’t need to have everything planned out in advance — you may want to feel things out. While you can’t necessarily anticipate how you’ll react in the moment, don’t feel pressured to consent to things you don’t want to do.
The same goes for your date — if they don’t consent to something, honor their decision and uphold it fully. Nothing about a person makes their boundaries, preferences, or decisions less valid than yours in any way. That’s why getting clearly stated consent is essential to a comfortable experience for everyone involved. Once you’re on the same wavelength, it’s easier to adhere to those boundaries and enjoy the relationship.
3. Sexual Health
In case your relationship takes an intimate turn, you’ll want to get familiar with the sexual health resources you have access to. It’s important when meeting potential partners to come prepared with this knowledge — and condoms! — to prevent sexually transmitted infections. Be sure to discuss this topic with them before any intimate encounter so you are both on the same page. Don’t be afraid to turn down any sexual activity if your date is uncooperative or dismissive of your concerns.
If everything goes seemingly well but you suspect you contracted an STI, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s quite common to have some form of STI in your lifetime and nothing to be ashamed of. There are even at home STI testing services you can utilize to skip a doctor’s office visit. You can determine your status for certain and, if you test positive, seek treatment from the comfort and privacy of your home. Having the right resources at hand before you begin using a dating app will keep you feeling safe and protected in this regard.
4. Personal Safety Measures
Speaking of safety, meeting up with someone you’ve only spoken to online always comes with the possibility of danger. That’s not to say it’s always an unsafe thing to do, just that it’s best to take some precautions when meeting. Before making in-person plans, set up a safety net on the off chance that you do need it. If the night goes awry, you have an escape route to get out safely; if it goes well, then nothing is lost.
A good first step to consider is a video call before meeting so you can confirm that the person is genuine. Then when you do meet up, do so in a public, populated place like a restaurant or city park. Wherever you’re going, inform a friend or family member of your plans and have them stay close to their phone. Finally, always trust your gut, and be confident about leaving or staying according to how the date goes.
5. Online Visibility
Remember that your dating profile is public to other app users, and everything others see is a reflection of you. You should, of course, be authentic so as to meet like-minded people — just be prepared to come across somebody you know. The best thing to do is to balance your profile between authenticity and discretion. There’s nothing wrong with being on a dating app, but it’s best to assume everything you post is public.
This shouldn’t be an issue if you use applications geared toward your preferences. But if you have interests you’re not comfortable sharing with your general acquaintance, proceed with caution. Some apps provide anonymity for this reason, so you have a lot of choice in where you want to start. To play on the safe side, you can always keep the profile itself PG and link to other forms of social media. It all ultimately depends on what you’re comfortable making public, which can be nothing or everything. Find your own comfort level in order to construct the best profile for you and your preferences.
It’s not a bad thing to meet the love of your life on a dating app, so don’t be afraid to use one. While there are fake accounts and scams out there, the vast majority of profiles — 90% — are real. So get out there and make some exciting new memories! As long as you’ve determined what your boundaries are, what preferences you have, and what your game plan is, it can be a lot of fun.