10 ways to be safer when meeting someone online

BY
Zaheer Shah

Bisma Parvez for Minder

If you’re on Minder, the goal (we hope) is to get married to someone you’re compatible with. Obviously, that requires meeting people in person.
But it’s so important to stay safe when meeting anyone online. While it may seem like this is geared towards women only, the truth is that men have to be safe too.

Here’s how you can stay safe:

1. Recite your surahs
This one may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times people forget to seek protection from Allah (swt). Recite Ayat ul Qursi and make duaa that Allah (swt) will protect you. People tend to feel guilt when meeting someone and Shaytan has a way of making us feel bad asking for protection. Do not fall into that trap. Purify your intention and pray for Allah’s protection!

2. Find your date on social media
Search Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to find the person you are talking to. Facebook and Instagram are especially helpful because they tell you if you have mutual friends. This also helps you get an idea about what kind of a person they are, their family, and their social activities. While there are some people who do not use social media, most do. If you can’t find your date online at all, you need to take further steps to try and verify their identity.

3. Find mutual connections
It’s a small world. If you do have mutual connections on social media, don’t be shy to ask about the person you are going to meet. While it might feel weird, a little embarrassment is better than being unsafe. Also, talk to your date and see if you have local connections. If it turns out you do, reach out to those people and find out about them and their family if you can.

4. Don’t share your number, home address or workplace
You never know if someone will end up being a stalker. Do not give out any personal information until you have spent a little time getting to know someone. A lot of people prefer to take the conversation from an app to texting. But an app is made the way it is for a reason this way, complete strangers (because that’s what they are) don’t have your phone number People can use phone numbers to do reverse phone searches and found out where you live. Take your time before getting too personal. Talking on an app may seem slightly inconvenient, but it is way safer.

5. Don’t meet right away
Don’t talk to someone online and meet them the next day. Take some time to get to know the person a little bit and see if you can catch any red flags. Once you are comfortable enough to share your number, speak on the phone and do video chat if you can to make sure they are the person they claim to be.

6. Always meet in a public place
When you first meet someone, meet in public! Do not go to someone’s house or invite them to your home. A coffee shop is always the best first location. Pick one that is fairly busy. The hustle and bustle of people actually can create a comfortable and safe setting.

7. Meet during the day
When you first go out to meet someone, try not to meet them at night. Meeting during the day is much safer. Even if you want to have dinner, try to make it an early dinner.

8. Don’t get into anyone’s car
While it may seem chivalrous for someone to pick you up or to meet at a location and get into one car, it’s always better to have your own transportation. You have no idea where someone will take you. Also, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you are relying on a
stranger to take you home or back to safety.

9. Tell a friend or family member
Do not meet anyone without letting a friend or family member know. Tell them exactly where and when you are going and how long you expect the meeting to last. This way, if they don’t hear from you in a while, they can reach out and check in. It’s even better to share your location with your friend while you are out. This way, they know exactly where you are in case
something goes wrong.

10. Trust your instincts
Sometimes, we doubt ourselves and are overly polite not to hurt someone. But if something feels off or someone seems like a creep or stalker, don’t fight your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, leave.

Bonus: Learn to love the process.

Finding your partner takes time and effort, but when done right, it’s incredibly rewarding. You got this!