Five warning signs you're talking to a stalker on dating apps - what to look out for

Dating app and online site in mobile phone
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Online dating, with apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge have transformed the way we seek out potential partners, offering both convenience and a plethora of choices. Yet, while these platforms can foster meaningful connections, they also necessitate increased vigilance regarding personal safety.

The risk of encountering a stalker is a genuine concern in the realm of online dating, emphasising the importance of staying alert and trusting one's gut feelings. Trevor Cooke, a privacy expert at EarthWeb, outlines the warning signs to be aware of when dating and provides guidance on maintaining safety in the online dating scene.

"Vigilance and intuition are your best allies when navigating the world of online dating," he advises. "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

When someone's interest becomes overly persistent, it can be a cause for concern. If a match is messaging you non-stop, even after you've expressed that you're unavailable or need some time alone, this could be a sign of an unhealthy fixation, reports Wales Online.

Such behaviour might progress into a relentless demand for constant communication, leaving you feeling pressured or cornered.

2. Invasive questions

While it's normal to ask questions when getting to know someone, be wary if your date delves into personal topics too quickly. Queries about your daily routine, living situation, financial status, or past relationships, particularly if they press for details, could indicate an attempt to gather information for controlling or manipulative purposes.

3. Unpredictable or unstable behaviour

Sudden mood swings or unpredictable actions are significant red flags. If your date's behaviour dramatically fluctuates from affectionate to aggressive, or if they react disproportionately to minor issues, this instability could foreshadow more dangerous, volatile behaviour.

4. Attempts to control or monitor your activities

A potential stalker might try to dictate or closely scrutinise your activities. This can range from demanding to know your whereabouts at all times to trying to control who you interact with.

Any behaviour that seeks to limit your independence or isolate you from friends and family is a major warning sign.

5. Showing up uninvited

One of the most blatant signs is if your date turns up at places you frequent without an invitation. This suggests they are tracking your movements, which is a clear violation of privacy and a potential threat to your safety.

Trevor's advice on staying safe

To steer clear of 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."