In an era of self-isolation and restrictions, consumers are paying more attention to their health and personal safety while dating, according to a new report commissioned by Kaspersky. Almost 1 in 2 (49%) respondents in Asia Pacific (APAC) prefer to only meet with someone in person who has antibodies or a vaccine certificate. This is seven points higher than the global average of 42%.
Consumers globally have generally become more anxious about meeting face-to-face since the start of the pandemic. The number of people who do not meet any of their dating matches offline has more than doubled (from 16% to 35%).
The events of the global pandemic have significantly changed many of our daily activities, and dating is no exception. During enforced self-isolation periods, people spent more time on dating apps and the number of users is growing.
“With all the stay at home policies and restrictions around the world, online dating seems to play a major role in people’s lives today. Still, the transition from ‘online’ to ‘offline’ is a leap of faith for many: there isn’t only the healthcare situation to consider, but also more evergreen risks of meeting with a stranger. In order to continue enjoying online and offline dates in confidence, it’s important to be mindful of the data you share with your potential date — so that if you change your mind about meeting someone, you are always in control of the situation, know how much information you’ve shared about yourself, and how it can be used,” comments David Jacoby, security researcher at Kaspersky.
Demands to see a potential date’s vaccination status is an obvious impact of the pandemic, however, meeting an online date in person appears to generate more concerns than just worrying about getting sick. Overall, 51% of users from APAC feel nervous or unsafe (12%) when they meet a date in person for the first time.
“After all, it is the most human need to meet in person after months of isolation. Humans are social creatures, we need companionship, exchange and closeness, even physical closeness. Sure, dating apps have made it possible to connect with new people during the pandemic. Virtually. A physical encounter is something else entirely. It’s about body language, smell and touch. Only when these components come together can we really decide how we feel about that person. The pandemic has shaken us. Many things we took for granted pre-pandemic have imploded, the insecurities, especially on the level of physical contact are enormous. That’s why it’s a normal reaction for dating app users to play it safe – by insisting on meeting only those who take their need for security and safety seriously. Because feeling like you’re being taken seriously is an essential aspect of building a successful partnership,” comments therapist Birgitt Hölzel from the Munich practice Liebling + Schatz.
In order to alleviate some of these worries, the majority (56%) of those who use online dating sites and apps want to first talk by phone or video with a date before they agree to meet.
Kristy Stahlberg, Head of Corporate Communications at Fun Factory, says, “A safe tip until you want to meet someone who is fully vaccinated or has proven antibodies, is to set aside a portion of time with your sex toy and have a secure ‘video’ call with your partner. Ideally, make sure you’re not recognizable in the pictures, and never let yourself be pushed into something that makes you uncomfortable. On the other hand, don’t go too far. Your counterpart might find overly provocative poses offensive. In short, you might have missed the point. Instead, play with indirect image details that promise more than they show.”
Here are a few simple tips Kaspersky recommends, to help you keep your personal data private while dating online:
- Share photos that don’t give away information such as your address or employer, for example. Instead use photos from trips or landmarks, with no personal data or other people shown.
- Use the built-in messenger function of dating platforms instead of sharing your phone number or other messaging apps. If you decide to move to another messenger, don’t forget to set it up to keep your data private and secure.
- Use an effective security solution that offers advanced protection across multiple devices. Kaspersky Security Cloud can help manage your apps and remove permissions where this is not necessary.
To make offline dating safe and enjoyable, you can follow simple tips, recommended by therapist Stefan Ruzas from the Munich practice Liebling + Schatz:
- Always meet in public the first few times, whether it’s at a restaurant, going for a walk or to the movies.
- Give someone you trust all the details of your meeting – when, where, and who
- Do not meet near to where you live. This way you cannot be followed.
- Also, do not share your address straight away.
- If you have an uneasy feeling about a person, end the date. You are not obliged to do anything.
- Trust your instincts and do not be unnecessarily trusting.
Kristy Stahlberg, Head of Corporate Communications at Fun Factory, also suggests the following advice, “How about trying a little variation on the classic game ‘Truth or Dare’? Flirt or Dare are the magic words. We know, that this also works wonderfully on a video date. Simply take a coin, let heads or tails decide and then let things run free. There is more about this in the booklets that come with our sex toys!”