PHOENIX - With the Super Bowl and WM Phoenix Open in town at the same time, online dating experts are saying those looking for love need to be extra cautious and provide tips to keep things safe and fun.
Match Group, the parent company of Tinder, Hinge, Match, and others, created a Game Day Safe Dating Guide for visitors and residents to use. RAINN, Polaris, and The National Domestic Violence Hotline and the city of Phoenix partnered up to create the guide.
"The guide includes tips to connect and meet others online safely, but one of the most important tips is to verify your date’s identity before you meet them. To this end, Tinder will be sending notifications to all its U.S. users who have not photo verified their profiles yet, encouraging them to do so ahead of the big game," said Maggie Gillespie, spokesperson for Match Group.
Safety tips from Match Group:
- Verify your new date’s identity: Before you meet your date, know who you are talking to. Use video chat, do an online search before agreeing to meet and use tools like Garbo.
- Choose a familiar or well-reviewed and public location to meet: Meet for the first few times in a populated, public place. If your date pressures you to go somewhere private, end the date and report the person through the app you met them on.
- Let a trusted friend or family member know where you are going and who you are meeting with: Arrive at the location early to let a server or bartender know you’re meeting someone for the first time so that they can have your back.
- Have a way there and back: Be in control of your own transportation. As a backup, use a ride-share app.
- Keep an eye on your drink and other personal belongings: Know where your drink comes from and know where it is at all times. Keep personal items with you.
- Good vibes only: You deserve someone who respects you and gives you good vibes only.
- Report any and all bad behavior, both online and in real life: If something is off, report the person to local law enforcement or through the app you met the person on. If it is an emergency, get to a safe place and call 9-1-1.
- Keep all digital and physical evidence: Take screenshots of your conversations with your date before blocking the person and erasing the conversation history.
- Report the incident as soon as you can and seek support.
Daters, former singles give their takes
"I mean, it’s nerve wrecking for sure. I go in with an open mind, you know, 'cause it’s the first time meeting somebody, I don’t know how this person is gonna be or react," says Esperanza Alvarez who has used dating apps.
Jayne Gephart has also used the apps and agrees it can be unnerving.
"I’m afraid to walk around at night alone. One in the same, I’m afraid to go meet up with someone I've never met before in a place I've never been before in a city that I've never lived in before," Gephart said.
JJ Brothers uses the apps.
"When I’m on dating apps and all that, I’m like worried about like, man, if I go over here, what if all these guys jump out of a van like try and kidnap me or something like that?" he said.
Tasha Menaker is the director of social advocacy of Match Group and says they're taking safety a step further.
"One of the nicest things about this campaign is that Tinder is doing an in-app push encouraging people to verify their profile, which means that they’ll take a series of selfies in various poses and that helps to confirm that they are who they say they are," she explains, preventing a catfish situation.
Others in the Valley say it never hurts to be proactive when looking for love, especially this week.
"It’s gonna be so busy, so much traffic and footwork. A lot of things can go wrong. I don’t wanna put that out there, but a lot of things can go wrong if people are not gonna be extra cautious," Alvarez said.
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