As more and more people get vaccinated for COVID-19, as the restrictions on various aspects of life are eased, and as warmer weather arrives, it’s reasonable to assume that in-person dating and hookups will increase. While it is still highly recommended to keep dates virtual to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, it’s always a good time to remind people to be careful when using apps like Grindr, especially when it comes to revealing personal information and making plans to meet up.
Here are some things one can do to stay safe when using hookup and dating apps.
Protect your identity. Don’t reveal any personal information — specifically your phone number, address, or where you work — unless you trust the person you’re communicating with. When it comes to sharing photographs, as Grindr says in their safety tips, “Anything you share with another user could become public through their actions so please be conscious of this when sharing photos and videos of yourself.” In addition, be careful when connecting social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to Grindr or other apps. If you publish personal information on social media accounts, linking them to apps like Grindr means that anyone on those apps can have access to that information.
Don’t rush things. When you’re getting to know someone, keep the messaging directly on the app itself. Don’t be in a rush to share personal contact information such as emails or phone numbers. If you make plans to meet up with someone, make sure they’ve sent you a clear, well-lighted face photo, ideally more than one, and try to video chat or talk on the phone with them beforehand.
Be careful when meeting. When you do meet a person, always meet in public first, and choose a location you know and trust, ideally a place where other people will be around. Beforehand, tell a trusted friend where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and when you expect to return. And make sure you are in control of your transportation options to and from the meeting location.
Don’t forget about COVID-19. Last year, PGN reported on state and local sexual health guidelines for COVID-19. Those guidelines still apply today. They include limiting the number of partners, talking about the risks of COVID-19, and asking about COVID-19 status before meeting, though they make clear that merely asking about symptoms is not a surefire way to know someone’s COVID-19 status. Wearing face coverings during sex, avoiding kissing, as well as washing hands before and after sex are also ways to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.
While staying home is still the best way to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, safety advice for using dating and hookup apps is important and useful at any time, now or in the future.