Are Dating Chat Rooms Safe?

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated April 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

When it comes to dating, online dating chat rooms can provide many opportunities to connect with others, but it’s not without risk. If you decide to use chat rooms in dating apps like Tinder or Bumble, you might keep in mind that there are some people with bad intentions, whether it’s predatory behavior or fraud. This isn't to say that most people meeting in a dating chat room are dangerous, but it may be wise to keep your details and pictures closely guarded until you know people better.

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Keep some information to yourself in a dating chat room

When it comes to revealing information about yourself in dating forums, it may be best to keep details about where you live, your school, and your workplace to yourself. It’s common to talk about various things with other people in a chat room, but it may be best to be as general as possible and avoid giving out your address, phone number, occupation, place of work, or anything else that is unique to you. Remember, the less personal details you share, the safer you may be.

You can divulge something broad, such as the country you live in, but if you have an uncommon name, you may want to keep that to yourself first. Even if you have a common name, you might consider keeping your full name to yourself when you first meet someone online. The more you end up revealing about yourself, the easier it might make it for other people to identify you—common name or not.

You might consider making up a screen name you do not use anywhere else. Using the same screen name as your Twitter or Instagram handle may not require much digging for someone to connect your social media account with everything you've mentioned in a dating forum.

It may also be a good idea to generalize your interests. For example, instead of telling people in a dating chat that you love skiing, you might just say you enjoy outdoor activities. This will give them a little information without making it easier for them to use your details to find out more about you online.

Don't post photos of yourself in the chat room

It may be tempting to send people seemingly harmless photos of yourself, but it may be best to avoid doing this. In the past, people posted pictures that, unbeknownst to them, contained details like the street they lived on or their license plate. Some attackers can even figure out where you live based on the landmarks on your street and their proximity to your house.

Also, if you decide to use a profile picture, it may be wise to avoid using the same picture that you use on other platforms, such as Facebook or Instagram. It can be easy for predators to do a reverse Google search and find your other online profiles.

How and when to safely meet people you've interacted with online

Typically, it is best to avoid in-person meetings with people you've just met in a dating chat room until you get to know them better. While the people you are talking to may have good intentions, those who don't may propose meeting in person too soon.

However, if you have been talking to someone long enough that you feel you have thoroughly vetted them and it is safe to meet them in person, then it may be best to do so in a public location for your safety. You can even meet them in the company of friends, but it’s probably safer to stay together as a group and not go off with that person alone.

If you decide to meet one-on-one, you might consider informing someone, whether it's a relative or a friend, that you will be meeting this person. This may be especially true if you are meeting the person alone rather than with friends. You can ask a friend or family relative to give you a call if they don't hear from you by a certain time, just to make sure you are okay.

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Also, it might be wise not to carry cash or as little as possible. Similarly, you may also want to avoid carrying all of your credit cards. This way, they won't get much if the worst happens and they try to steal from you. If they do happen to get your debit or credit card, you can call to cancel the card and report any fraudulent charges.

Also, when meeting people in person, it’s probably safer not to get into the car with a stranger, especially for young girls or anyone feeling vulnerable. This typically holds true even if you feel incredibly comfortable after meeting that person. If you don't drive, you might consider asking a friend or parent to pick you up at a location close to your meeting place.

If, after you meet the person, you feel they may be engaging in stalking, harassing, or intimidating behavior, either online or in person, you can notify the police immediately. You can explain the situation to the police with as many details as necessary, including that you met the person online and now feel threatened by them.

Signs of trouble in an online dating chat room

How can you know for sure if someone is a threat? First and foremost, if the person starts talking about sex, or if they try to encourage you to do things like discuss sex online or send them naked pictures of yourself, it may be best to stop communicating with that person immediately and block them from being able to communicate with you.

If you're in a chatroom and someone is acting this way, one of the fastest ways to safeguard yourself is simply to log off. Once you disconnect from the chatroom, especially if you've followed the advice above about keeping your details to yourself, it may be difficult for the person to find you or bother you again. 

If the person you are talking to starts to ask you more questions, such as your age, hair color, eye color, skin color, etc., you may want to take it seriously because such inquiries can often matter more than they seem, indicating potential predatory behavior. It can also be a red flag if they request details about your living situation (e.g., do you live alone?).

One possible way to avoid being put into one of these situations is to stick to public chatrooms. In a public chatroom, everyone can see what everyone is typing. If someone asks to take the discussion to a separate chatroom, this may present more danger because other people won’t witness what is being communicated.

If someone engages in any of the above behaviors, you can report them to the moderator of the chatroom and/or the police. You can also contact the parent site that hosts the chatroom, as they generally promote the safety and satisfaction of their customers.

Other chat room tips to keep you safe

Sometimes, people want to inflict not physical harm but digital harm. On that note, it's probably best to avoid downloading any files that are sent to you in any forum—dating or otherwise. In addition to viruses and malware, hackers can download ransomware onto your computer. With ransomware, hackers can hold your important information hostage until you pay them to release it.

Also, you might want to avoid paying to participate in a chat room. If you are prompted to pay a fee to continue a chat, consider logging off immediately. In addition to losing your money, you may be giving someone permission to your bank account or credit card to provide the information necessary to make the payment.

Are there "safe" dating chat rooms?

All chatrooms are susceptible to people with bad intentions, and unscrupulous behavior can occur anywhere. However, if you are interested in participating in a dating chat room, you may want to do so through a more reputable website that offers ID verification. 

This likely cannot keep all fake profiles away, as someone can always slip through the cracks, especially if they're skilled at deceiving others or committing fraud. However, it may increase the safety of users looking for genuine connections with others.  

Talk to a therapist about dating chat rooms

Online dating has become an effective way to connect with others across the world with similar interests. A 2020 Pew Research study found that three out of 10 adults had used an online dating site, with 57% having positive experiences. However, the same study found that 45% of participants said online dating left them feeling frustrated.

If you’re looking for guidance on dating, relationships, or intimacy, you might benefit from talking to a licensed counselor. You can search for a counselor in your community, but if you don’t feel comfortable discussing dating at a therapy practice, you might consider online therapy, which research has demonstrated to be just as effective as in-office therapy.

Online therapy allows you to connect with a therapist through audio, video, or live chat at a time that fits your schedule. With BetterHelp, you can contact your counselor anywhere you have a reliable internet connection and feel comfortable. Additionally, BetterHelp can usually connect you with a therapist within 48-72 hours. 

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Takeaway

There are various success stories of couples meeting on online dating apps and chat rooms. However, this method of meeting people may also increase exposure to predators and people aiming to commit fraud. Using strategies like those listed above may help safeguard yourself and your identity as you connect with people online. Speaking with a licensed counselor may also help you maneuver the ups and downs of dating in a safe and smart manner. Take the first step toward getting support with online dating and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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