Once upon a time, I was naive and didn’t realize that there was anything wrong with giving a guy I met on Tinder my real phone number. Or Instagram handle, or full name. My very first Tinder date, I let the guy pick me up FROM MY HOUSE.
Oh, how things have changed in the almost two years since I’ve been single again!
I was involved in a discussion with a girlfriend last night about a man she met online STALKING her after she decided not to see him again – they’d had an awful, very creepy first date. He really stalked her. I am not talking about lurking on her Instagram or creeping her Snapchat…it escalated to the point where she had to go to the local police station and file a report.
DATING CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS.
I began keeping my last name, phone number and basically, my entire identity, a secret after I dated the first Army Guy last year.
But I digress. So I never gave Army Guy my last name or told him my blog info, and we didn’t exchange social media. But I did give him my phone number after chatting on Tinder for about an hour. This was before I knew better! We were dating for about a month, spending a ton of time together, when I finally told him my last name and he asked about following me on Instagram and Snapchat. He then told me that as soon as I gave him my number and we started texting, all of his social media apps asked him if he wanted to connect to me! I didn’t realize that this was an option, but it TOTALLY IS!
My friend in NYC advised that I use a Google Voice number, but then we realized that when you send pics through it, it reveals that it’s coming from an alternate number. Yeah, I know. Kinda defeats the purpose! So she began using a free app called Sideline, which allows for texts, photo sharing, phone calls – all from a phone number different than your own. When someone calls the Sideline number, it rings directly through to your phone and says “Incoming call from Sideline” and your texts from people will still pop up with a notification just like any other app, as long as you have notifications turned on.
Oh! And you can save their numbers and add to your contact list – it will even show up in your phone contacts. It’s that legit! PLUS, since you have their – what we will presume to be real number – you can totally go to Facebook and Instagram and stalk their social media profiles to try and make sure they aren’t married before you agree to a date.
Yes, this is a real thing we ladies have to do.
I’ve blocked out their nicknames to protect their privacy, but you can see I used the bee emoji to signify meeting them on Bumble, and the fire emoji to signify meeting them on Tinder. I also use nicknames like “Army Guy” or “Air Force Guy” or “The Brazilian” to help me keep track of who is who and not get anyone mixed up. I am actually only still speaking to one of those guys – this was from a month ago – and he has my real number now because because we’ve gone on two dates since we matched on Dec 27, and he is a total sweetheart.
I am super honest about using an alternate number, and once I get a feeling for how a guy really is, he gets the real phone number. It’s usually on a first date, because I am a pretty good judge of character and I can usually tell after spending a few hours with a guy.
Just him calling it that – clearly that is not the kind of dude I want to date. I kept talking to him for a few more days, but decided I wasn’t interested and declined a date and stopped speaking to him. So what happens when you decide you don’t want to pursue it? NOTHING. Because they can’t find out who you are and find alternate ways to contact you! Just block and DONE. It’s like you never existed.
And you’re safe.
If you live in a country that doesn’t work with Sideline – I am pretty sure this is only for the United States, I recommend using KIK, which is also a free messaging app and you can just use a random username so that it’s not your first and last name, etc. My ex husband and I used KIK to communicate over wifi when he worked in Trinidad and Barbados 50% of the month. That was before iMessaging really went into effect. Just be sure to turn off the feature that allows people to find you by your contact info – that makes me a little nervous.