Digital love dilemma: Balancing success and safety on dating apps

As love fills the air, many people are looking for their perfect match on dating apps. Despite the high success rate of nearly 70% for those who met on a dating app, leading to a more committed relationship, it is important to be aware of the many potential pitfalls.

When someone is ready to open their heart to love again, the search for a meaningful connection can lead them down unexpected paths. Living in a quiet town with limited romantic opportunities, the idea of finding love online seemed like a promising option for Talitha (not her real name). However, the safety concern loomed large. “I heard horror stories of people being attacked at their first meeting or being seen simply as a sugar mommy,” she shares.

In pursuit of a genuine connection that aligned with her values, Talitha joined a Christian dating app. “It gave warnings not to give out your cell phone number or pay people money,” she says. After creating a brief bio and sharing five photos, Talitha began conversing with potential matches. She maintained a careful and watchful approach, eventually meeting someone in person after three weeks of messaging, proving that genuine love can be discovered through digital means.

Don’t give away too much 

“It’s important to be honest about who you are and what you are looking for on dating apps, but not give too much away,” asserts Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 AFRICA. Like Talitha, she thinks it is a good idea to stay on the app and not hastily switch the conversation to WhatsApp. If someone does anything inappropriate, report it to the dating app and promptly block them.

“You can also verify profile photos by doing a reverse image search,” she advises. “If someone who looks like a model,  has a PhD and falls in love with you  too quickly, it might be too good to be true.”

Watch out for red flags

The primary threat on dating apps is the fraudsters who are out there to get you. “Be circumspect about sharing your personal information, like where you live or your cell phone number,” cautions Collard. Romance fraudsters often collaborate with cryptocurrency scams and employ tactics like professing love without having met you. They may then request money under false pretences, such as claiming it is for their sick mother or for investing in a cryptocurrency scheme. 

“It is important to be aware of red flags like somebody claiming they live on an oil rig or in the army and that is why they cannot meet you in person,” says Anna. “They may try to win your trust by saying they have invested money for you in their cryptocurrency scheme and then later ask you to also invest.”

According to statistics from the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 20% of Americans who fell victim to romance fraud in 2022 stated that they made initial contact through a dating app. In contrast, 40% stated that the fraudulent activity started on social media platforms such as Facebook. Collard advises, “No matter how you are contacted, stay vigilant and don’t let your guard down.”

“When meeting in person, make sure it is in a public place and that you have told a friend or family member where you are going,” she adds. “Charge your cell phone beforehand and go in your car.”

While caution is necessary when using a dating app, remain receptive to new opportunities. Like Talitha, you might be one of the lucky ones to find love. “Meeting up for the first time was surprisingly wonderful, as we felt like old friends,” Talitha says. “We fell in love and intend to get married later this year.”

By Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa 

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