A Woman's Guide to Online Dating Safely and Sanely

Online dating has been different than I expected.

Online Dating Safely - Different than I expected


At first, it was fun. But I was naive if you must know. I am really putting myself out there by sharing my experience with the world.

Going into online dating, I couldn’t wait to meet new people, but I soon gained a new perspective. It wasn’t too long until I realized I was happier alone than dating the people I met (sorry, it’s the truth), and I would need to find someone really special as I was content with being with myself. That’s an important and empowering lesson to learn.

I learned that if I were to date someone, I wanted to find someone to connect with or date someone for longer than it takes for a package from Amazon to come in the mail.

Online connections often don’t last for various and often comical reasons.

Real people worldwide seem to share the difficulty in finding partners by swiping on their phones. This Reddit thread on r/Bumble is incredibly eye-opening. People sharing on this thread have interesting stories to tell. Most of them stated it often took months or even years for someone to find their match online dating (or sometimes it didn’t even happen). The dating app Tinder is also known for its lack of success in actually matching compatible partners through its user base.

You would think that online dating would make meeting and connecting with someone easier. Well, you can meet lots of people, I will say that. But finding a real connection seems impossible. I have had one boyfriend since dating online, which was one of the most interesting dating experiences I have ever had. But at least I learned from it, right?

To survive online dating, you need a good sense of humor, accurate intuition, and a strong backbone. I’m not kidding.

Swiping with Safety in Mind

Online Dating Safely - Swiping with Safety in Mind


When dating, you need to be careful. There aren’t only strange people online; there are also dangerous ones. People lie all of the time. But how can you make connections when you don’t trust one single person? You can’t take anyone’s word without knowing them for long and having them prove trustworthy.

You need to get to know someone before you can trust them, which is hard to do when you meet through an online dating app and you likely don’t have any mutual acquaintances.

Sounds confusing and scary. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m thankful to say I learned a few lessons on the way that I want to share. Here are some tips and tricks to think smart, learn how to experience online dating in a sane way, and stay safe.

I’m sharing my story so you don’t make some of the mistakes I did.

Here is what you need to focus on first…

Heal Your Nervous System

Online Dating Safely - Heal Your Nervous System


I cannot stress this enough. Things likely won't work in your favor if you jump into the dating scene too quickly, even if you think you have found your perfect match. Because if you aren't healed, and your nervous system is struggling, you likely won't know what you want (even if you think you do).

You can even put yourself in danger as you might gravitate towards unhealthy relationships if you have in the past and haven't worked on healing yourself and doing the work to figure out the pattern behind your past dating experiences and why they failed.

I’ll paint it this way: Rushing into dating without addressing emotional healing is like navigating a maze without a map. It's easy to get lost and end up in the same confusing place.

Instead, taking time to heal is like tending to a garden. It's about nurturing yourself, understanding what went wrong in past relationships, and cultivating a healthier mindset.

Just as a garden needs care to flourish, your emotional well-being is essential for successful relationships.

So, take a step back, tend to your inner garden, and step into the dating world with a stronger sense of self when you feel grounded and ready.

It’s Not Good to be Labeled as Easygoing

Online Dating Safely - Not Good to be Labeled as Easygoing


When a guy tells you that you're "easygoing," it might sound like a compliment on the surface, but let's unpack that for a moment. In many cases, it's not really a compliment at all – it's a polite way of saying you're low maintenance or agreeable, as if those are the only qualities worth acknowledging.

Being labeled as "easygoing" can sometimes feel like a subtle way of being dismissed or overlooked, as if your depth and complexity are being overlooked in favor of a laid-back demeanor. Don't settle for being pigeonholed into a stereotype; embrace who you are instead.

Of course, there’s always room for growth, but you don’t want to have a relationship with someone looking for an “easygoing” girl because your needs won't matter to him.

Be Safe

Online Dating Safely - Be Safe!


Safety is so important for me and should be for all daters.

In my personal experience, my biggest safety concern was knowing who I was communicating with. I had to really make sure I knew if the person I was talking to had any history that would be considered a red flag.

There is one method I use to look up anyone that has been a game-changer in making sure I'm not inviting trouble into my life. And I’ve avoided some bad situations because I’ve used this tool when starting an investigation on someone. Before I text someone who gave me their phone number through an online dating app, I do a little detective work using the National Cellular Directory's white pages reverse phone lookup. This gem helps me search a date using their phone number, giving me important information when available such as their full name to their social media profiles.

But that’s just the surface of my investigation. Now that I have this important information, I do a free Case Search on MCRO (a free court records search for my state). It will show the criminal records available under that person’s name. If there is more than one person with that name, it’s helpful to have their general age, as many court records have the ages of those involved, which I have also found on reports generated by the National Cellular Directory.

Beyond that, there are a few more key tips to remember when it comes to dating safely while still enjoying yourself.

First and foremost, trust your instincts – if something feels off, it probably is.

Always meet in a public place for the first few dates and let a friend or family member know where you'll be. And, of course, never feel pressured to do anything you're uncomfortable with – your safety and well-being should always come first.

Stick with Your Boundaries

Online Dating Safely - Stick with Your Boundaries


Amidst the chaos of dating after divorce, one thing has become abundantly clear: knowing your worth and sticking to your guns is the ultimate game-changer.

This simple rule took me a long time to figure out. I had people express this to me, and I just didn’t listen. But now I’ve realized that they were right.

Knowing what you want and your boundaries will help you find a compatible partner, but will also help you weed out people with ulterior motives and intentions that don’t align with yours. Trying to change someone just won't work.

They have to want what you want. You might be the most desirable person in the world, but if, from the get-go, you feel like you have to change who they are and what they are looking for, don’t waste your time and their time.

They might just not be ready for what you want. Whether that is due to them needing to work on themselves or not wanting the same things you do, dating someone who doesn't match your intentions will build resentment.

Regarding boundaries, I'm not about to settle for anything less than what I deserve. I believe we should ALL have physical, emotional, and intellectual standards.

I refuse to compromise on my values or sacrifice my sanity for the sake of a fleeting connection. I've learned that bending over backward for someone who doesn't appreciate you is a one-way ticket to heartache.

As I date, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a partner who's not just a good match but a great one. Someone who shares my values, challenges me to be my best self and isn't afraid to laugh at life's absurdities. After all, life's too short to waste on mediocre connections and lukewarm chemistry.

Be Careful with Alcohol

Online Dating Safely - Be Careful with Alcohol


I’ll make this simple, navigating the dating scene has taught me the importance of being cautious with alcohol. While it can add to the fun, it's crucial to remember its effects. I've learned to enjoy responsibly, setting clear boundaries, and prioritizing safety.

It’s simple enough. Have fun, but know your limits and stay in control. Again, it’s all about healthy boundaries. Cheers to making smart choices, both in love and in life.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags

Online Dating Safely - Don’t Ignore Red Flags


You like someone. They are fun to be around. Cute. Successful. In this case, it’s easy to ignore red flags. Been there. Done that.

However, when it comes to online dating, spotting red flags is crucial, and ignoring them could lead to unnecessary heartache. Whether it's inconsistencies in someone's story, catching them in lies and always having an excuse, they love bombing you, evasiveness about their personal life, or disrespectful behavior, these warning signs shouldn't be brushed aside.

Trust your gut instinct; if something feels off, it likely is. It's better to err on the side of caution and protect your emotional well-being than to risk getting entangled in a potentially harmful situation.

Remember, you deserve respect and honesty in any relationship, online or offline.

Biggest dating red flags to look out for:

  • Lack of respect for boundaries
  • Inconsistency in communication or behavior
  • Avoidance or reluctance to talk about past relationships
  • Pushing for physical intimacy too quickly
  • Disrespectful or derogatory comments about you or others
  • Excessive jealousy or possessiveness
  • Unwillingness to compromise or negotiate
  • Constantly talking about themselves without showing interest in you
  • Displaying controlling behavior
  • Showing signs of being overly dependent or clingy
  • Being secretive or evasive about personal details
  • Displaying volatile mood swings
  • Lack of accountability for their actions
  • Being overly critical or judgmental
  • Flirting with others in front of you
  • Unwillingness to introduce you to their friends or family
  • Talking negatively about or comparing you to ex-partners
  • Avoiding discussions about future plans or goals
  • Showing signs of substance abuse or addiction
  • Being overly secretive about their phone or social media accounts
  • Demonstrating a lack of empathy or compassion
  • Disregarding your feelings or opinions
  • Showing signs of manipulation or gaslighting
  • Making unrealistic promises or grandiose statements
  • Flaking on plans or being consistently unreliable
  • Displaying a lack of ambition or drive
  • Refusal to communicate openly or honestly
  • Constantly seeking validation or reassurance
  • Showing signs of aggression or violence

Watch out for these red flags - Not ignoring them could save you time, heartache, and even prevent something more serious from happening.

How to Spot Online Dating Scammers

Online Dating Safely - How to Spot Online Dating Scammers


Not everything is real online. This statement is especially true for online dating profiles. Let's talk about the phenomenon of fake male profiles and the antics people pull.

Starting with the most popular scam- the "catfish" scenario, where someone's rocking a profile pic they found somewhere else online.

Then there are the age shenanigans – you're chatting with someone who claims to be in their 30s but shows up to your date looking like they are your dad’s age.

And let's not forget the creative storytellers who spin a web of lies faster than a spider on caffeine. One minute, they're a successful entrepreneur with a yacht; the next, they're asking if you can pay for your coffee date.

Spotting the fakes: So, how do you separate the real deals from the counterfeit? Look for inconsistencies in their stories, blurry or overly edited photos, or reluctance to video chat or meet in person.

Additionally, if something feels off, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to leave a date or cut off communication if you don’t feel right about someone. And don't hesitate to do a little online sleuthing to verify their identity before diving in too deep.

Romance scams cost their victims over $1 billion a year, and that’s only what is reported to the Federal Trade Commission. It’s the type of scam that needs to be taken seriously.

If you are wondering if there are free people or phone number lookup options that make it easy when wondering “where do I search and find secrets about my date.” It’s a question all of us ladies wonder, and it's all part of the process. Don’t feel bad about protecting your sanity. There are free services, such as the National Cellular Directory’s happy Hour, where you can search daily for important date information.

Something a Little Less Serious… Prepare for the Weather

Online Dating Safely - Prepare for the weather


That warm and fuzzy safe feeling is almost impossible when you are freezing cold. Cold or otherwise unpleasant weather can actually be dangerous if you don’t prepare for it.

I love to dress up when I can. My closet is extensive and one way I express myself is through fashion. However, and this is quite funny, I haven’t dressed for the weather before on dates, and it’s put a damper on things that have had to be switched around.

Weather can be a real concern, regardless of location. Even in warmer areas, you've got hurricanes, heat waves, and sudden rainstorms. I live in Minnesota, where winters are unpredictable and bitterly cold. It's crucial for a Minnesotan to dress warmly and be prepared for anything.

A little insight into my world: Going on a date during a Minnesota winter night will mean I will likely step outside when it’s colder than 20 °F. Except for this winter, where the weather is unseasonably warm in Minnesota, people are investigating climate change further.

Wherever you live, it’s smart to keep an eye on the weather as it shifts often. Knowing what you are doing and when will help you to plan your outfit accordingly and should be good enough, but we all know that the weather sometimes decides to throw a curveball. Sometimes, your date won’t go according to plan, and that’s ok too. Plan and if it still doesn’t go according to plan, it’s not your fault.

Sometimes, Having Fun Isn’t as Simple as it Sounds

Online Dating Safely - Sometimes, Having Fun Isn’t as Simple as it Sounds


My parents always tell me that dating should be fun and simple at the beginning. But they were high school sweethearts. Being divorced with kids in my 30s and dating through an app is a different experience. I’ve had to learn a few tricks to help make the process easier.

I now recognize that dating should and can be fun if you stay true to yourself and trust your instincts. Equipping yourself with the knowledge and strength to protect yourself will help you deal with being alone if it doesn’t work out, which makes dating more fun. That will set you up for the right mindset.

You can have fun and enjoy the process without rushing into finding someone. You don’t need a man to complete you; you just need someone to complement and add a meaningful element to your life as you do the same for them.

Online Dating- Is it Worth it?

Online Dating Safely - Online Dating- Is it Worth it?


Online dating can be an exciting journey filled with new connections and possibilities. However, it's essential not to put undue pressure on yourself or rush into anything too quickly. Take the time to get to know potential matches, engage in meaningful conversations, and let things unfold naturally.

Remember, finding the right person takes time, so don't be discouraged by setbacks or delays. Stay positive, stay open-minded, and most importantly, enjoy the ride. After all, the journey is just as important as the destination.