Great news! You’ve matched with an actual person on Tinder! But before you get too excited, you have to first figure out how to proceed safely.
You need to make sure your potential partner isn’t a creep. You need to proceed cautiously, with your own safety always at the forefront of your mind. So, here’s our advice.
Follow-Up Messages on Tinder
This is the obvious first step, but what do you say?
Tinder boasts an estimated 50 million users. That’s a lot of people either looking for true love or just a quick hook-up. 54 percent of Tinder users are single, which means 46 percent aren’t. Which is concerning.
So before embarking on any sort of relationship—be it a long-term thing, a one night only affair, or just for a few quick messages—be aware that you’re unlikely to find “The One” straight away.
Yes, they swiped right, so they like what they see. You do too. But there are some 26 million matches made every single day. Now is the time to keep a cool head and carry on with realistic expectations.
Starting a Conversation
The Chat function on Tinder is available only when you match with someone. So, what should your opening gambit be?
You’ll probably have heard a lot of cheesy pick-up lines while dating; however, you should feel no pressure to ask if they’re a parking ticket because they have fine written all over them. Seriously, don’t do that. Equally, don’t start with “Hi” and then leave it there.
Start a conversation like a normal human being. Look at their photos and bio and find something worth asking. If they’re on vacation in their profile picture, find out where they went and what they did. Quirky hobby? Same school? Where do they work? Find out more.
Just learn what you can about the person you’ve matched with. It’s that simple. Don’t wind yourself up about this: it’s not as big a deal as many make out. If things are going well, you’ll only need to ask a couple of questions anyway—one of which might be about meeting up.
Switching to Another Messaging App
Despite Tinder having its own Chat function, you might be asked to swap to a different messaging app. It’s a reasonable request, but here’s what you should keep in mind.
You might be wondering exactly why your match is asking you to swap apps, when there’s a perfectly reasonable instant messager as part of Tinder. You do have to question their intentions, but in most cases, it’s a fair enough request.
Why? A lot of people just find it simpler to conglomerate their messaging habit into one app. However, it’s also a sign that both parties want to move ahead with the relationship. It’s gone beyond the initial meet-and-greet; you’ve now swapped phone numbers.
And this is where you’ve got to be careful. It is, for all intents and purposes, the point of no return. If you’re chatting to someone on Tinder and discover they’re a weirdo, you can unmatched—once you’ve swapped numbers, it’s a bit more difficult to back out.
Rest assured: it’s not impossible though. You just need to learn how to block phone numbers. A further advantage of other instant messengers is that you can exchange photos.
A Warning About Photos and Videos
There’s an elephant in the room: Your new Tinder match might simply ask to see pictures of your dog or your latest vacation… or they might ask for something a little more adult.
Don’t send nude content to anyone!
A few years ago, sextortion—literally extortion through sexual material (i.e. using embarrassing images as leverage against you)—came into the limelight due to the horribly named “The Fappening”. This entailed the iCloud accounts of numerous celebrities being leaked online, notably NSFW photos of people like Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Vanessa Hudgens.
Suffice to say, this doesn’t only happen to famous people. It can happen to you too. Imagine how you’d feel if such material was seen by your family and friends. These images could be used to solicit further pictures or videos, or even scam you out of money.
If you’re not sure whether the image you’re sending is risqué, ask yourself if you’d be happy for your best friend or sibling to see it. No? Then don’t send it.
It’s worth repeating then: no matter how trustworthy your new Tinder match might be, don’t send NSFW content of any description to anyone.
Don’t Trust Links
Sextortion has evolved even further. It can now dominate your entire life by installing malicious software onto your PC or smartphone.
Having leverage against you is bad enough. Now imagine the cybercriminals having access to your entire contacts list.
Such software can be downloaded via links. Let’s say your Tinder date suggests you download WhatsApp. For ease, they send you a link to the App Store or to an official-looking site. Do not click on it. You don’t need their link: you can search on the App Store yourself. You can look online for reviews and more information. By clicking on a link sent to you, you’re risking your own security.
Which Apps Can You Trust?
Stick with the most-used instant messagers. You should be immediately suspicious if the person you’ve matched with suggests moving to a platform neither you nor anyone in your friend group has heard of.
There are some solid alternatives to WhatsApp. But nine times out of 10, you’ll want to use WhatsApp. Millions of people trust it, and that’s partly due to WhatsApp’s privacy settings. Telegram has a similar interface, making that another option.
Before downloading a new app, you should certainly do some research. Check out reviews away from the App Store (as some of these can be falsified), and factor in the negatives of each service. Even Wikipedia could help by advising you about histories, reputation, and download numbers.
There are three instant messagers we’re overlooking: Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Actual meaningful conversations are more difficult to achieve on the latter, but plenty add their Tinder matches on the other two platforms.
Yes, Twitter limits your characters, but that shouldn’t be a huge problem. You can split longer chats between many messages. Just make sure you do it all privately—there’s no need to air your laundry in front of all your followers. The same goes for Facebook, although you can ramble on for however long you want there (we do advise against it, however).
Okay, so what are the pros and cons of these?
Most importantly, you can see what the other person is actually like. Forget the pictures on Tinder: they’re chosen purely to get more right swipes. On social media, you can flick through tagged photos, discover what they’ve liked, and go through past statuses. Don’t get obsessive, and don’t forget that we often project a fake version of ourselves online too.
Nonetheless, this is a slightly more accurate gauge than Tinder—which isn’t to say that’s a good thing. Indeed, it can be both a pro and a con.
So too can the fact that, by adding them on social media, they can learn more about you. It’s a two-way street. Make no mistake about it, you’re surrendering your privacy too. So only take this step once you’re sure about the other person. In fact, you should probably only do this after going on a date or two together.
Meeting Up With Your Tinder Match
This is where it’s all been heading: going on a date.
It’ll probably come up in conversation early on. There’s no point wasting time trying to find out what you can from Twitter if you can, instead, just meet face-to-face. But it’s nerve-wracking, right? Still, this must be the eventual outcome of joining Tinder, so where should you meet?
Naturally, go somewhere you can talk. The cinema is no good. An eatery of some description is likely your best bet.
The important thing is this: Make sure it’s a public place.
You shouldn’t be paranoid about this; it’s just a standard precaution. This person is a stranger. It doesn’t matter that you matched with them, or that you’ve been chatting for a while. It doesn’t matter if you think you already know this individual well. They are a stranger. You wouldn’t meet a stranger somewhere you can’t be seen, right? Common sense is important, Tinder or no Tinder.
As for the destination of subsequent dates, that’s up to you. Just don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, especially if pressure is applied. Keeping things public also keeps us safe.
Tell people where you’ll be. And if things don’t go according to plan, have an escape route in mind, even if it’s just the front door.
A Match Made in Heaven?
Finding love is important, but your safety should always be your number one priority.
Many people enter relationships after going on dating apps. And while you should feel happy that you have matched with someone, be careful not to lose your head. You might have signed up to Tinder with the best intentions.
Sadly, not everyone does. As technology changes, so do the cybercriminals, and Tinder is full of scammers.