Five red flags your date could turn into a stalker - recognise the signs

Dating app and online site in mobile phone
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Online dating has revolutionised the way we meet potential partners, with apps like Tinder, offering convenience and a vast pool of options. However, while these platforms can lead to meaningful connections, they also require a heightened awareness of personal safety.

Unfortunately, the threat of encountering a stalker is real, and it's crucial to remain vigilant and trust your instincts when navigating the world of online dating. Trevor Cooke, privacy expert at EarthWeb, shares what signs to look out for when dating and advises how to stay safe when online dating.

"Vigilance and intuition are your best allies when navigating the world of online dating," he explains. "By recognizing these red flags and taking proactive steps to protect yourself, you can enjoy the benefits of apps like Tinder while minimising potential risks. Remember, it's essential to trust your instincts and prioritise your safety above all else."

1. Overly persistent behaviour

Persistence in showing interest can quickly turn into a red flag when it becomes excessive. If your match messages you constantly, even after you've indicated that you're busy or need space, this could indicate an unhealthy obsession. This behaviour may escalate to an incessant need for communication, making you feel overwhelmed or trapped.

2. Invasive questions

While getting to know someone involves asking questions, be cautious if your date starts probing into deeply personal areas too soon. Questions about your daily routine, living situation, financial status, or past relationships, especially when pressed for details, can signal an attempt to gather information for controlling or manipulative purposes.

3. Unpredictable or unstable behaviour

Erratic mood swings or unpredictable actions are significant warning signs. If your date's behaviour shifts dramatically from affectionate to aggressive or if they react disproportionately to minor issues, this instability can be a precursor to more dangerous, volatile behaviour.

4. Attempts to control or monitor your activities

A potential stalker might try to dictate or closely monitor your activities. This can range from insisting on knowing your whereabouts at all times to trying to control who you interact with. Any behaviour that seeks to limit your autonomy or isolate you from friends and family is a major red flag.

5. Showing up uninvited

One of the most overt signs is if your date appears at places you frequent without being invited. This indicates they are tracking your movements, which is a clear invasion of privacy and a potential threat to your safety.

Trevor’s advice on staying safe

To avoid dangerous situations while using dating apps, consider these recommendations from a privacy expert:

Trust your instincts: If something feels off, trust your gut. It's better to be cautious than to ignore potential warning signs.

Keep personal information private: Avoid sharing detailed personal information too soon. Protect your home address, workplace, and routines until you are sure of the other person’s intentions.

Meet in public places: For the initial dates, choose public settings where you can easily leave if necessary. Avoid secluded or private locations.

Share your plan: Inform a trusted friend or family member about your date plans, including where you're going and who you’re meeting.

Have a safety plan: Be prepared with a plan to exit quickly if you feel uncomfortable. Carry emergency contacts readily accessible in your phone and consider using safety apps that can alert friends if you’re in danger.

Trevor adds: "Understanding and recognizing the early signs of stalking behaviour in a dating context is crucial for personal safety. Always prioritise your well-being and never ignore your intuition. Your safety comes first."