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Dating new people can be fun and exciting but your safety and well-being should always be at the forefront.

If you’re single right now, you might be feeling the need to find a cuddle buddy. Did you know that this is an actual phenomenon known as “cuffing season”? Cuffing season happens when single folks begin searching for a partner to accompany them through the cold winter months.

Considering the pandemic and current remote situation, you might be considering diving into the online dating scene. Online dating is a great way to e-meet new people, but it’s also a way you might find yourself in potentially uncomfortable situations with strangers. 

Red Flags in Online Dating

1. They Only Use Group Pictures  

Have you ever wondered whom you’re swiping for when you come across a group photo? Exactly. If someone is only using group pics, it might mean they’re hiding something. It’s easy to take a few selfies, so be wary. Are they using vacation photos from ten years ago? Are they in a relationship and don’t want to divulge who they are in the photo? If a person’s profile is only using group photos to identify themselves, then consider this a red flag. 

2. They Use Inconsistent Photos

Black hair, blonde hair, piercings and no piercings – styles can change quickly, but faces can’t. If you notice inconsistent pictures on someone’s page, move along! Could be a catfish, and it’s a red flag that they aren’t being honest about who they are.

 3. They Have Nothing to Say About Themselves 

Blank profile? People actively seeking new connections will put effort into their profile because that’s how you attract others. If you come across someone with no text or information listed, this is a red flag. While not everyone is comfortable with writing – or writing paragraphs – no text at all demonstrates a person’s seriousness with online dating.

4. They Are Angry and Negative 

We all have our opinions and experiences from online dating, but the sole purpose of a profile is to represent who you are and what you want in order to attract others.

“NO MORE OF THIS”, or “NOT LOOKING FOR THAT” – if a person only writes negative things about their experience with online dating or using the app or website, this is a red flag. If that person is trying to attract others through this kind of negativity, it’s a great indicator of how they probably are in real life so it’s good to keep your overall well-being in mind as you seek.

5. They Send Unsolicited Photos or Ask You for Nudes 

It would be socially awkward to send a nude photo to a friend out of the blue, so consider this as a red flag when it comes to online dating. If they are sending you unsolicited photos or are asking you for inappropriate pics, they aren’t serious about forming a relationship in real life and they probably don’t want to get to know you. 

The Stats

  • 20% of currently committed couples met online

  • 53% of online dating users admitted to lying on their dating profiles

  • 20% of women admitted to using old photos that no longer accurately represented them

  • 40% of men admitted to lying about their occupation to appear more successful

  • 60% of online dating users are either already in a relationship or are married.

  • Physical looks and common interests are reportedly the 2 main factors users consider

When participating in online dating, there is also the risk of experiencing sexual violence. According to a 2016 survey, 21% of LGBTQ+ folk claimed that they have experienced meeting someone online who did not respect their sexual boundaries. 

Meeting Up Safely

After online chatting for a while, the next step might be to meet in person. Right now, BC health officials have lots of recommendations to consider when dating during a pandemic, like limiting your social interactions along with other preventative methods, but if you choose to meet up here is where to do so safely:  

1. Meet in a Public Place

Coffee shops, bowling alleys, museums, restaurant patios – most of these are still open to the public with COVID-19 health and safety measures in place, including some places requiring reservations in advance (heads up!). Having an activity like bowling can foster teamwork in a goal-oriented setting, and a trip to the museum can provide stimulating conversations. If you do choose to meet indoors, follow health authorities’ recommendations and remain physically distant until you both decide you want to become part of each other’s close social circle. Another option is to go to a restaurant or bar and enjoy a meal or drink together outdoors on a patio. All of these options are in public spaces so you can engage in an activity and get to know each other more.

2. Tell Someone 

Once you’ve decided where to meet, let a friend or family member know whom you’re going with and details for what you have organized.

3. Plan a Safe Ride Home

Being in control of your transportation allows you to leave at any point if you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe during the date. It may be best to drive yourself or have someone close to you drop you off and pick you up.


As we continue to operate in remote environments during the pandemic, online dating will maintain its allure during “cuffing season”. With COVID-19, there are added health and safety layers to consider when it comes to social interactions/dating and safe sex so it’s important to be mindful of this as well. Dating new people can be fun and exciting but your safety and well-being should always be at the forefront.

Be sure to stay updated on the latest Health Peers events and outreaches to learn more about how to support your physical and mental wellbeing! 

Beyond the Blog

SFU Health and Counselling Services
Health Peer Educators
Health Peer Educators work with the Health Promotion team at SFU Health & Counselling Services to support student health and well-being on campus.
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Nov 2, 2020

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