Let’s face it; many of us have tried online dating or hook-up apps like Tinder or Grinder at some point in the last few years. It might have started as a joke but chances are you got sucked in (or off!). In February 2014 Tinder was doing 750 million “swipes” per day that led to 10 million introductions. As of Grindr’s fifth anniversary on 25 March 2014 it had more than 10 million downloads and had more than five million active monthly users worldwide. There is clearly a lot of people finding a lot of people on these apps, so what do you need to know if you want to give it a go?
- Don’t be a fool, cover your tool. Chances are if you are hooking up with someone, you are going to be meeting someone who potential- ly has had many different sex partners. Not everyone is safe so make sure you are! There are many ways to cover up: condoms, gloves and dental dams can all be useful depending on what you’re into.
- Get checked regularly. Our friends at Student Health are worried by the number of people coming through who regularly use hook-up apps and then don’t get checked until they have symptoms. Remember, basically any sexual contact can make you vulnerable to catching an STI and so make sure you are getting regular check-ups whether or not it is itchy!
- Negotiate consent throughout. You must make sure that you and your sexual partner(s) are enjoying and consenting to what is happen- ing. Initially this means negotiating what you are keen for, then you should be asking questions such as, “is this ok” or “do you like this,” right throughout your encounter.
- Practice using stop and no. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, say so! This seems simple but many people endure unpleasant things during sex because they are too embarrassed to say stop or perhaps because they don’t want to look inexperienced. You should never feel pressured into doing things that hurt or that
you don’t enjoy.
- Tell your mates. It is useful to have someone who you can text the details of what you are up to in case anything goes wrong. So if you are hooking up, text a mate the address, their name, and what time you expect to arrive and leave. You should avoid getting into strangers’ cars, but if they offer to pick you up at least text the registration plate number to a mate.
- Meet in RL first. Meeting for a coffee or a drink in public before jumping into bed with them is not just the safe thing to do but is also polite! For some of you this might not be possible as you aren’t “out” yet, so try and figure out someone’s weird factor in other ways first, like check out their Facebook profile or Skype them.
- Have fun!