What are some possible benefits of dating apps?

According to a 2023 report by Pew Research, 53% of 18-29 year olds have used a dating app or site. 

A focus group of Northeastern students identified the following benefits of online dating:

  • You have access to a wider pool of people
  • It is easier to connect with people and start a conversation
  • It feels lower stakes than in-person connections
  • You can specify things about yourself and what you’re looking for
  • Sexual orientation is often explicitly stated 
  • There are more opportunities to pursue queer relationships 
  • You can more efficiently filter out people you’re not interested in
  • Users may be more transparent with their intentions  
  • You can review how you come across to others
  • You can find and connect with people with shared interests
  • It can be fun

There can also be risks or drawbacks to online dating. This can range from negatively impacted self-esteem to discrimination, sexual harassment, violence, or exploitation. Take note of how online dating is impacting you. If you find engaging with it is causing you to compare yourself to others or is taking a toll on your self-esteem, consider taking a break.

Tips for safer online dating:

When meeting someone in person, you might consider some of the following:

  • Tell others the plan: Tell a friend where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If possible, update them with any change of plans.
  • Share your date’s profile: Before meeting your date, send a screenshot of their profile to a friend, making sure to include a photo of them. 
  • Video chat first: Consider scheduling a video chat with your date before meeting them in person. 
  • Download a location-sharing app: Designated people can easily find you on apps like Find My Friends, Snap Maps, Life 360, Waze, and Google Maps.
  • Get your phone ready: Charge your phone and pack a charger.
  • Stay public: If possible, meet your date somewhere public and familiar. 
  • LGBTQ+ travel: If you are dating while traveling, check the local laws before leaving to see what types of legal protection are available to you based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Equaldex can be a useful resource.
  • Control your transportation: Make sure you can get to and from your date on your own or with the help of a trusted friend.
  • Enlist the help of a bartender or server: If a situation feels uncomfortable, it can be helpful to find a nearby advocate. They can help by calling a taxi, creating a distraction, or contacting the police. 
  • Watch your things: Keep your personal possessions and any drinks you consume in sight. 
  • Know your limits: Consider how drugs and alcohol affect you. Hold your ground or leave if your date tries to pressure you to consume. 

What information should you avoid sharing on dating apps?

Consider keeping the following identifying information to yourself until your trust the person you’re talking to:

  • Your last name
  • Your home or workplace address
  • Your date of birth
  • Details about your daily routine
  • Details about any children
  • Personal information about friends/family (unless they have consented)

Never share financial information or your Social Security Number

What phone or app settings should I be aware of when online dating?

  • Location-sharing settings: Apps can use your device’s GPS or IP address to locate you and show your proximity to other users. Some apps require you to change your phone settings to fully disable location-sharing. Check out the help pages of each dating app you use and consider disabling precise location-sharing to limit how accurately others can pinpoint your location. 
  • Security features: Make use of any additional security features such as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) and PINs. 
  • Linking to social media: If linking your social media profiles to your dating profile, check that you’re comfortable with the type and amount of information others can see. 
  • Sign up with email or phone: Sign up and login in with an email address or phone number instead of a social media account for more control over your information. 
  • Block feature: If someone is making you uncomfortable, consider blocking them using the app’s block function. 

Red flags when dating online:

Healthy relationships both on and offline involve respect and move at a comfortable pace. Certain behaviors may be a signal that someone is acting inappropriately. If you observe inappropriate behavior, it is recommended that you unmatch and block this person. You may also consider reporting their behavior to the dating app.

According to RAINN and several dating apps, the following behaviors may be red flags:

  • They claim to be from the US but currently living, working, or traveling abroad.
  • They request financial assistance after an alleged personal crisis
  • They disappear from the app and reappear with different personal details
  • They have an incomplete profile, such as no bio or few photos
  • They put pressure on you to compromise on your principles, share photos, videos, or personal information, move off the dating app, or progress the relationship without getting to know you.
  • They tell inconsistent or exaggerated stories, have language abilities that don’t align with their stated level of education, give vague answers to specific questions, or have different personal details across profiles.
  • They are overly romantic or complimentary too early on, request personal locations under the guise of sending gifts, or demand commitment before you really know one another.

It is important to note that there can be legitimate and benign reasons for many so-called “suspicious” behaviors, so it is important to listen to reason as well as your gut.

What about sexting?

Sexting, a portmanteau of ‘sex’ and ‘texting’, describes “the sharing of personal, sexually suggestive text messages, or nude or nearly nude photographs or videos via electronic devices” (Mori et al., 2020, p.1). 

Sexting can be done consensually between adults.  Check in with the other person about their boundaries around sending and receiving sexts if this is something you’re interested in.

Sending pornographic or semi-pornographic content to someone without their consent is inappropriate. If you are receiving unwanted sexts through a dating app or otherwise, you may be feeling anger, frustration, and/or disgust. See below for more information about how to report these behaviors if you choose.

Inappropriate online behavior:

While there are many benefits to dating online, it is helpful to be aware of some of the potential risks involved.

Sexual violence can occur both online and offline, and technology can play a role in both spaces. How people experience these behaviors varies significantly. For some, the behaviors might feel annoying and frustrating. For others, the behaviors might make them feel vulnerable and afraid. It is common for victims of online sexual violence to feel that that they are overreacting or somehow to blame. However, regardless of the circumstances, they are not to blame for the wrongful behaviors of the perpetrator. 

If you’ve experienced online sexual violence, it is not you fault and you are not alone. Know that you have options to report and/or seek confidential support. 

Reporting via dating apps: 

You have the right to report harassment or sexual violence caused by someone you met on a dating app, whether that behavior occurred on or offline. You may consider reporting to the app itself. 

Below are some of the behaviors that users may report to the dating app:

  • Sexual harassment sent over the app or after you’ve taken things offline.
  • Sexually explicit content sent without your consent, even once you’ve taken the conversation off the dating app.
  • Requests for money or your financial information. Or someone giving out their financial information.
  • Discrimination and identity-based hate, including any behavior or content advocating hatred or inciting violence.
  • Lewd, shaming, and/or hateful comments about your body.
  • Fake profiles/impersonation and catfishing
  • Individuals who have already been blocked from the app.
  • Anything else that violates the dating app’s specific guidelines.

What happens when I report someone on the dating app? 

Procedures differ between dating apps. Some apps may:

  • Restrict access between profiles 
  • Review in-app communication between the complainant the the other user
  • Take disciplinary action, including suspending or deleting the user.

See the reporting procedures at Hinge, Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble.

Reporting at Northeastern: 

You also have the right to report sexual violence to the Office for University Equity & Compliance (OUEC) and/or Northeastern University Police (NUPD). 

Northeastern policy prohibits all forms of harassment and discrimination.  This includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, domestic violence, sexual exploitation and stalking.

In particular, in an online context it may be helpful to understand how Northeastern defines sexual exploitation and stalking.

Northeastern defines sexual exploitation as:

When a person takes non-consensual sexual advantage of another person for any purpose. In an online context, this may include:

  • The intentional viewing, filming, photographing, and/or recording of any type of sexual acts, partial/full nudity, or related materials, sounds, or image of another person without their consent. 
  • The distribution of images, including video or photograph, or audio of another person’s sexual activity or intimate parts without the consent of the recorded individual. 
  • Intentionally observing, spying on, or listening to a person involved in sexual activity or in any state of undress without that person’s consent.


Northeastern defines stalking as:

A course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their own safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress. Behaviors may include monitoring, observing, surveilling, or threatening someone. Stalkers may or may not use digital technology.

Keep in mind that Northeastern’s definitions do not reflect the exact language that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts uses, nor any other state or jurisdiction. If you are wondering how sexual violence and consent are defined by each state in the U.S., please visit rainn.org/public-policy-action

Resources for information and support around online sexual violence:

Northeastern’s Sexual Violence Resource Center offers confidential support to Northeastern students. Staff can help you to explore your rights and available resources.

The One Love Foundation website provides educational videos and articles on how to spot and respond to digital dating abuse and establish better digital boundaries. It has an advice line which can be reached by text, live chat, or phone call.

The Love is Respect website provides information, support, and advocacy around healthy relationships for young people aged between 13 and 26 years old. It has a helpline that can be reached via text, live chat, or phone call.

The Safety Net Project website provides information and resources for survivors experiencing control via technology. They offer a Technology Safety Plan as well as Documentation Tips for Survivors of Technology Abuse and Stalking.