‘I was stalked by someone I met on Tinder’
He found out where she lived and came to her house nearly every day
In a world of dating apps, young people are more connected to those around them than ever. Sharing your location is something many of us do – whether with actual friends on Find My Friends, sort of friends on Facebook or not actually friends on Tinder. Most of us wouldn’t think twice when an app pops up with a request to share your location, not seeing any issue with it using this to find people that you might like who live vaguely close. However there is a darker side to this story, as Chloe* tells us.
So how did it start?
I actually originally matched with this guy on Tinder. He seemed normal enough, we had a few distant mutual friends off my uni course, and I liked the dog in his profile picture. We chatted for a bit about general stuff, family and friends, hobbies and similar, but I slowly began to feel slightly uncomfortable talking to him. He would ask things that were bordering on too personal, and it occurred to me that maybe I had told him a few things I shouldn’t have.
What did you do about it?
Initially I blocked him on Tinder – I’ve done that with weird guys before and thought that would be the end of it. I felt much better knowing he could no longer see anything about me.
But this wasn’t the end of it?
No. About a day later I got a Facebook request, and logged in to find it was from him. I ignored the request, hoping this would send the right message, but he messaged me on Facebook the next day. It wasn’t a particularly threatening message but it scared me a bit. He just said he had found me on here and I was suggested as a friend to him, asked if I had deleted my Tinder and why when we had been getting on so well.
An hour or two later he was back again, saying he knew I was online. I quickly blocked him on Facebook too, and made sure my settings were private so he couldn’t see anything else about me unless he was my friend.
That seems pretty sensible. How did he find you again?
I was feeling pretty worried by this, so I basically went on a social media blackout. I continued every other aspect of my life as normal, but stopped sharing it on Facebook or anything else. What I didn’t think about though was even if I wasn’t tagged he would still be able to find me. I regularly go to the same two club nights every week, and sometimes I get a club photo when I’m there. I usually don’t even get tagged in it but he didn’t need that to be able to find me.
Somehow he came across my photo and must have made the connection that I go to the same club nights every week. Because I wasn’t tagged in those photos I didn’t get notifications but when I looked at them later he had liked every one I had basically ever been in.
What happened next?
I was out with my sports team on a social, and I felt a tap on my shoulder. I assumed it would be someone from the team or someone else I knew, but I whirled around to find a stranger standing there. It took me a few seconds to work out who he was. He didn’t actually say anything but once I worked it out I was completely freaked and hurried to get out of there with some friends. Once I got home I felt better but now he knew where I went I didn’t feel safe going there. This was the first time it had impacted on my normal life – now I didn’t feel safe going to clubs.
Did you tell anyone?
I told the friends who I had been with on the night we saw him. The next couple of weeks when they went out they told me they saw him alone at the edge of the club. One of the girls even said he had approached her and asked her where her friend was.
Did it escalate at all?
Yeah, badly. I had deleted Tinder, hoping that would be the end of it, but hidden in a folder on my phone was another dating app, called Happn. Happn is an app that when you walk past someone who also has the app it gives you a notification that shows who you passed and from there you can contact them.
I never check the app as I only downloaded it as a matter of interest, but clearly this guy did. I don’t know exactly how he found where I lived but slowly the number of times I passed him increased until he was passing me every single day. My road is far away from anything useful and a dead end, so you would only go down it if you lived on it. I also live two houses from the end, so unless he lived next door to me he would have no reason to come down the road.
What happened next?
It was a Sunday afternoon in mid-May when I was sat outside in our garden. Our doorbell rang, and because two of my flatmates had gone home and another was at a society meeting, I went to answer it. I opened the door to find him standing there, smiling directly at me. It took me a few seconds to work out what was going on, but the second I did I slammed the door shut. He rang the bell again and again, but I went and hid in my room with the door locked. When my flatmate came back from her meeting I told her everything in tears.
Was that the end of it?
No. From that moment onwards he came to our house nearly every day. I felt so embarrassed about it and like it was my fault that I couldn’t even tell my parents, the university or the police what was going on. Eventually I was so stressed by it that I was hiding in my room all the time, never going to anything I was invited to, and my whole life started to suffer. But every day at some point he would be there staring at the house. It reached the point where I felt unsafe living at my house so had to move in with some friends who lived the other side of university where he couldn’t find me.
How are you now?
I’m better, but I don’t think I will ever truly recover from this experience. I feel a lot safer as he’s moved away from the area and joined the army, though it’s worrying to think he is someone who is supposed to be protecting others. I have found it virtually impossible to consider dating since then, and I don’t know if I will ever try and meet someone via the internet again.
I spend a lot of time warning others about the dangers of dating applications, but most people seem to shrug it off as something that won’t happen to them. I would like everyone to know that it can be dangerous, and to be careful when you consider giving out details. It doesn’t take much for someone who knows your first name and has a picture to find you.
*Name has been changed to protect her identity.