With lockdown restrictions becoming a thing of the past, more and more members of the LGBTQ+ community are returning to hook-up apps like Grindr, Hinge and Scruff in full force. That being said, we mustn’t forget that dating apps can become dangerous when the people we meet on them have ill intentions.
While hooking up can be fun, it’s important to remember to take the necessary steps and precautions in order to return home safe afterwards. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of nine steps you can take to stay safe while using hook-up apps.
Let’s check them out!
Ask for a face pic
There are bound to be occasions where the person you’re chatting up on a hook-up app is reluctant to share identifying photos. While this may just be due to their own discretion, or fear of being outed, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t compromise your safety when arranging online hook-ups.
If you ask your potential partner to share a face picture with you and they refuse, even after you have shared your own, it’s likely best to step away from the encounter altogether and search for fun elsewhere.
Video chat with them
Even if someone is kind enough to share a face picture with you, it’s important to remember how easy it is to steal other people’s photos. While the person in the photo might look legit, you’ll want to take extra measures to ensure that they really are who they say they are. A quick and easy way to ensure that you’re meeting with the right person is to request a video chat.
Thankfully, as most hook-up apps have their own video chat features, this won’t require you to give out your personal phone number to your potential hook-up.
Check out their socials
Lots of hook-up app users will have their other social media accounts, like their Instagram, tagged in their online profile. Quickly browsing a user’s profile can be an easy and discreet way to verify their identity. If you notice that you and your potential suitor have mutual followers, you might also contact one of them to verify that this person is legit.
If their socials aren’t linked to their account, just ask. If, for some reason, they aren’t on other social media platforms, be sure to verify their identity in another way before meeting up.
Let your friends know
While your friends don’t need to know every intimate detail of your hook-up, it’s important to have someone you trust looking out for your well-being. This means letting a trusted friend know where you are going. Sharing the location of your hook-up with someone you trust can help them find you in case you need help after arriving.
Keep your phone and GPS on
Unfortunately, simply telling your friend the address of your hook-up isn’t enough to keep you safe, should the situation go awry. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your phone is charged, on, and connected to either wifi or 4G. Sharing your live location with a friend through your phone will not only help them find you, but in an emergency, it can help the Gardai track your location.
Meet in public first
If you’re meeting up with someone from a hook-up app for the first time, it’s advisable to arrange to connect in a public space. Having other people around will give you a chance to gauge the situation and make a safe and hasty exit if need be.
After arriving at the public location, if you realize that the person you’re meeting is not who they said they were, now is the time to turn tail and head back home. If at any point you get the impression that something is off, find an excuse and leave immediately.
A number of companies, like Flare, also sell discreet jewellery that can be used to trigger a fake phone call, text friends for help, send your GPS location, or even call 999 with just the push of a button.
Be wary of food and drinks
While some people may offer you a snack or a glass of water as a genuinely kind gesture, others may be using the opportunity to spike your drink. Because of this, no matter how kind your hookup seems, it’s best to turn down the drink when offered. You should also bring along your own lube, as it can also be spiked.
Call for help if needed
If you find yourself in an emergency, call 999 and get help. If you’ve been subject to abuse by someone you met online, do not hesitate to report the incident to the Gardaí and to reach out for support.
Trust your instincts
If you get the feeling something is wrong at any point, leave immediately if you’re able to do so or ask them to go and alert friends and the Gardaí.
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