Shraddha Walkar's brutal murder by her live-in partner Aftab Poonawalla has shaken India to its core. The story has brought online dating into focus. Aftab and Shraddha met on Bumble in 2019. In fact, Aftab registered on the app again after killing Shraddha, reportedly even matching with women and bringing them home as Shraddha's corpse remained in the freezer.
Now, many of us are on dating apps and some of us are on Bumble, which markets itself around being safer for women. Bumble's USP is allowing women to make the first move. Only women can send a message to a match first. However, no matter who makes the first move, it doesn't guarantee that the person on the other side always has good intentions.
So, before you start swiping right, here are some more tips on safety while trying to find love through the algorithm:
1. Wait till you meet in person: So, you matched with a potential date and you are talking. However, if the other person is pressuring you into meeting them in-person when you are still uncomfortable with the idea, then don't meet up.
2. Do a little background check: This probably goes without saying nowadays. You can try to find your potential date's online trail through their social media accounts.
3. Inform someone about your date: When you are meeting your online dating match in person, make sure you tell someone trusted about who you are going out with, and where you are going, and share your live location with that person.
4. First date/s: Most online dating apps like Tinder advise users to meet their matches in person at a public place, rather than, say, at someone's apartment. It is also advisable to use your own transportation; in case things go south, you can make a quick exit.
5. Stay sober: Excessive drinking and losing sobriety can make you vulnerable. Keep your guard on till you are absolutely sure of the person you're meeting.
6. Sharing information: Before or after you meet your online match, ensure that you are not giving out too much information about yourself which can be used against you. It is advisable that you don't reveal the address of your home or financial details until you are confident about the other person.
7. Sharing links to other social media accounts: If you are sharing your other social media account links on your dating profile, keep in mind that people who don't match with you can still find you.
8. Sharing your phone number: With regards to sharing your phone number, don't fall for suggestions such as taking the conversation off the app to WhatsApp. Only share your phone number once you find them trustworthy enough.
9. Trust your guts: If you are in any way feeling uncomfortable with a date, or feeling threatened, do not hesitate to leave immediately. If something feels off, most likely it is.
10. Read profiles: We often forget to do this as dating apps have become more like window-shopping platforms. But profiles that are empty or poorly filled in are a big red flag.
Bottomline: There is no end to being cautious. Dating comes with its own bit of risk, online or offline. While meeting someone IRL and falling in love with them seems a little 'safer' - so to say - happy love stories that began on dating apps too are very common. The most important bit is to trust your guts.