Dating safely during isolation (COVID-19)
Dating safely online during isolation
With news of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on our screens every day, we understand this is a worrying and uncertain time, and we want everyone to stay safe and well. Meeting someone in person for a date is simply impossible currently in many places around the world.
But people can use dating apps and services to continue to find new connections; make new friendships, chat and have fun online.
- Make the most of technologies - use livestreaming or video chat where services offer this. It can be useful to see if there’s any connection before meeting in person for the first time - even in more normal circumstances.
- Why not have a virtual ‘drink’ or ‘meal’ over video chat? Arrange a time when you both have some privacy at home, so you can relax and focus.
- You could watch a movie ‘together’ by arranging a time and hitting ‘play’ at the same time. Netflix allows you to watch with friends using Netflix Party.
- If you’re into gaming, you could set up a multiplayer online game. If you don’t have a games console, there are still other ways to play games online for free. Use it as an opportunity to try something new.
- Why not get to know people on the discussion boards many services have set up – hopefully you will find a lively and friendly community of people from all backgrounds.
- Of course, there’s always the phone, instant messaging apps and social media. As always, we encourage users to stay within the dating service messaging system as this provides a safer environment. If you are using alternative means of contact during this time, try to keep some contact within the dating service and let the service know of any unwelcome behaviour.
And keep being honest! If you’re not feeling like staying in touch with someone as you don’t feel a connection, let them know. Don’t joke about having virus or other health symptoms as a reason for not chatting or eventually meeting.
Our words of caution
Meeting and socialising online is not the same as doing so in person. Services work to keep fraudsters away, to make sure there are no under-age users and to spell out the behaviours expected and the behaviours that are not acceptable. If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable or you are concerned about behaviour, then please report this to the dating service.
But users always need to be alert to those who are not who they claim to be and who are after your money, not your company. The ODA advice to users on safety is simple:
- Get to know the person not the profile
- Stay on the site messaging service
- Never, ever send money to someone you meet online
- Let others help and guide you: talk to family and friends about your dating choices
- Stay in control – never feel pressured to do or disclose anything
What if someone you meet says they need help because of Coronavirus?
Sad though it is to say we are also asking people on social media and dating services to be alert to any new scam based on seemingly urgent and distressing stories about the Coronavirus or other illness, particularly now about ‘medical bills’ or the need to pay for a virus test. No honest person would ever ask that of a stranger online. End any such contact immediately and alert the service provider.