A woman recently posted this harrowing story about being stalked by a Tinder match.
An abbreviated version: a hair-stylist matched with a man on Tinder. They chatted, he asked where she worked, she explicitly tells him she doesn't like to give out that information. The conversation fizzles and she ghosts him. Apparently, he figured out where she worked by Googling all the hair salons in her area. Some time in the near future, he shows up at her job.
His justification? "She left me on read."
Okay. Let's unpack this.
First, I hate that so many apps use a GPS locator when searching for matches. Women shouldn't have to hide their distance - or anything else - on a dating app in order to avoid being stalked and harassed. But you know what? Because of this, I'm going to suggest women do exactly that. Just one more thing we have to do because certain men posses a disturbing level of entitlement.
With this story in mind, allow me to run through a few other things That Are Not Okay.
Circumventing a dating app and contacting someone using another platform. Nope. NOT OKAY! I recently saw a website for men that encourages they do this if they are struggling to get matches on Tinder. NOT OKAY!!! It's a clear breach of personal boundaries. When you have a unique name (as I do), you're easier to find by performing a simple Google search. It takes just a first name and little else. This is why I advise people who are concerned for their privacy to use an alias on their dating profiles. Not a totally fake name, but a variation of one. ie Catherine can go by Kathryn. That way, you can avoid awkward conversations about how you someone a gave a fake name, but you have reasons. No matter what that explanation is, it's going to give the impression you have a complicated back story.
Asking questions about where someone lives or works. NOT OKAY! I mean, unless you want to set off their internal stalker radar, of course. Inquiries like that will instantly put a person on the defensive. They're going to want to know why you need that information. From that point on, they're going to be extra cautious when communicating with you. When you're initially messaging or otherwise communicating with someone online, keep your questions to what they've addressed in their bio or your conversation. Never ask - and more importantly, never expect - your matches to reveal too much in regards to anything that could help you find their location.
Never - and I mean NEVER - friend or follow someone on a social media platform unless they invite you to do so. NOT OKAY! It's now commonplace to do some quick recon on your match. You hit up Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tik, etc. I get it. I'm not going to suggest you not do these kinds of searches because, please. However, you do not want your latest match to know you've already looked them up. Besides making you look too invested, it makes them feel violated. Yeah, the info is public, but that doesn't make having a stranger you just met on Hinge follow you any less invasive. NOTE: There are certain Instagram accounts that post nothing but screen shots of the crazy messages they receive from people who found them on the platform. Understand that, in .many cases, the owner of Instagram account has intentionally included their Instagram page in their bio to get followers. Call that stuff out. Aspiring influencers ask people to follow them on Instagram to build their following. Avoid these accounts as well. They are not on the app to meet someone.
You get angry when someone doesn't respond to you. DEFINITELY NOT OKAY! Hi. You're a stranger. They owe you nothing. It sucks when people cancel, or blow you off, or ghost, but that's part of online dating. I'm not saying it's polite, I'm saying learn to accept the things you can not change. As an adult, you should have learned how to read more common social cues by now. A lack of response IS a response.
You follow up with a nasty email when someone doesn't reply to your initial message. NOT OKAY! That's harassment. Full stop. Take your toys and go home.
Some additional suggestions to stalker-proof your online dating experience.
Hide your distance on every dating app if possible. Ugh. This bugs me so much, but I think it's necessary.
Don't get too specific in your dating app bio or Match.com or OKCupid (or any) About Me summaries. You ran a marathon last year? That's awesome! You should definitely include such an achievement when writing your dating profile. Just don't include what marathon you ran or a photo of yourself wearing your number. Rather than give an exact job title, mention a general field. (This is important if your company lists employee names and photos.) Don't say you're a writer, say you're a creative-type. Consider the possible key words that might lead someone to you when drafting your dating profile.
Create social media pages for your dating profile that are separate from your main pages. Linking a social media account will actually increase your chances of getting a message from one of your matches. It makes sense, really. Linking social media to your dating profile adds an additional layer of validity. If you have an Instagram page or Spotify account, that makes you seem less like a scammer and more like a real person. These accounts also allow you to provide potential matches with additional info about your likes, hobbies, and other lifestyle choices like whether you travel, drink or work-out. Believe it or not, your taste in music will also provide people with a sense of your personality. (Many singles take music preferences very seriously.) However, you want to curate this page in a way that doesn't reveal things like your full name, neighborhood, your favorite hangouts, your friends names, your gym, etc. All it takes is one search of a hashtag to find you on Instagram. That might sound like a lot of work to most people - and it is - but if someone is determined to find you, they will make the time.
Change your Facebook settings so that your profile doesn't appear in search engines. This is minor, but if it helps keep people from finding your page and therefore your full name and god knows what else, it's worth it.
Do a reverse image search on all your photos before posting them. Google allows users to upload a picture and then pulls up every page where that photo appears. Select your pictures (or take the ones you already have attached to your dating profile) and run them through a reverse image search to ensure those photos don't leave a breadcrumb trail right to your full identity.
Any other suggestions?
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