Online dating and hooking up
By Lisa Torney
With the advent of the internet, there has been a significant increase in people using technology to connect with others. It can be a great way to find love, relationships or casual sexual encounters. Whatever you are seeking, consider these suggestions to help you have fun whilst protecting yourself.
What are you looking for?
Consider what you are after and find the most suitable site or app. Some are geared to relationships, others to sexual encounters or only social connection. Finding the right one for your needs can prevent wasting your and others time if you are seeking different things.
Represent yourself accurately
A common complaint is that people often do not look like their pictures. A picture 10 years old and 15kgs heavier can make for an uncomfortable, awkward first meeting. Post current pictures where you look good, are smiling and are preferably not taken in the bathroom mirror with dirty clothes on the floor. Misrepresenting yourself does not set a good tone at the outset so be honest.
Write a profile that says something about you
Some people struggle to describe themselves however we have one chance to make a good first impression so try to describe your personality and what you enjoy. Humour is an often-sought quality so include this in your profile.
Don’t take rejection personally
Unfortunately, sometimes good manners and etiquette can be lacking in the online world. Try not to get upset if people do not reply to your messages or reject your invite to chat. If you are not having success then make changes to your profile by adding better photos and change wording.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Corp reported that in 2016, Australians were scammed out of an astonishing $45million. Keep personal details secure, account password protected and never give out personal information to strangers that can be used to steal your identity. People who feel lonely are often vulnerable to scammers who groom them with flattery and love declarations before asking for money so be aware of anything that feels like it is too much too soon.
Consider a phone call before deciding to meet in person, which helps clarify if someone is real. If you feel uncomfortable giving your number negotiate calling with your number blocked. Meet in a public space rather than at someone’s home and if you do decide to go home with someone tell a friend the address where you will be.
If you have sexually explicit pictures online consider obscuring your face as once your image is on the internet it is difficult to remove and be mindful that scammers can make fake profiles using your image. Do not feel pressured to post or SMS explicit pictures to people you have not met. Trust your gut instincts and if something does not feel right then do not proceed.
Research suggests that people out of long-term relationships are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to not being familiar with condom use. Know your sexual health status by having regular STI check ups, practice safe sex with new partners and get tested together before you and your partner decide to stop using condoms.
It can be exciting chatting to, flirting with and meeting people from online, however, use your judgment and common sense to protect you. If you would like to set up an online profile yet feel unsure, or do not know how to navigate online dating and hooking up then speak to a sex therapist about ways we can help.
Be savvy, be safe and have fun!