Scammers, cheaters and even sex workers - are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of people you’ll find on dating apps like Tinder.

While some people are looking for casual hook-ups (no judgies), others are looking for long and meaningful relationships (rare). Whatever you’re looking for, I'm pretty sure it's not the following new trend...

It’s a new phenomenon that’s best described as ‘freeloading’ where a certain type of person uses a platform like Tinder in search of free accommodation.

What!?

Yup, that’s right. Over the past two months I’ve come across a number of these freeloaders and while managing to avoid falling into the trap of having an unwanted housemate (see tips below) I’m beginning to notice a pattern in their tactics…

Let me use Jeff, an Imaginary Tinder Freeloader, as an example. (I’m sure there are women who do this too, but since I’m a hetero woman, my experience so far has been with men.)

So you and Jeff match on Tinder and start chatting. You chat for long enough to want to meet up and after hitting it off and a few rounds of drinks, Jeff (who has no car) manages to flatter and charm the pants off you and gets into the Uber with you.

You end up back at your place for what quickly progresses to an adult sleepover.

You go to sleep together, cuddling like a pair of meerkats and when you wake up the next morning he’s still there…asleep.

Before you met Jeff, perhaps your general self confidence had always been a bit low, but now… you’re as comfortable as Lady Gaga in a meat suit because he’s managed to make you feel ‘like the only girl in the world’ (worst song ever).

You go to sleep together, cuddling like a pair of meerkats and when you wake up the next morning he’s still there… asleep. You decide to leave him in his slumber and you head off for work.

But when you return nine hours later, Jeff is still happily chilling on your couch.

Jeff never leaves. Jeff has nominated himself as your new non-paying housemate and you can NEVER get rid of him.

Days turn into weeks and eventually you start making up all sorts of bullshit (“My lease is about to end so I’m going to be moving out”) because you cannot stand him in your space any longer.

Jeff insists that he’s looking for work and a stable job to be able to afford a place of his own, but Jeff never leaves your couch. Jeff is clearly not going anywhere unless forcefully and physically removed from you premises.

And so the next women falls for it because we’re that insecure and wrapped up in a fake moment of flattery that we’re happy to let our new sleepover friend camp out for a couple of days

Read more: I fell for the same Tinder scam twice

Okay, so the above example is just ONE of the MANY stories I’ve heard from friends and family in the modern dating pool.

But there are many of these freeloaders and they’re legitimately scouting for potential girls to ‘crash with’ indefinitely because the last one finally had the balls to lock him out of her house. Or because he’s tired of living with his parents. Or because his friends won’t put him up with his general laziness anymore.

And so the next woman falls for it because we’re that insecure and vulnerable to fake flattery that we’re happy to let our new sleepover friend camp out for a couple of days.

As a Tinder user I’ve also found myself in arbitrary conversations with the Jeffs of the Tinder-world who send messages like “Hey, what are you up to today,” at 9am on a working Monday or who tell you all about their search for a new place before asking if you’re looking for a roommate.

Nine times out of ten potential dates/hook-ups/partners who are vague about their living arrangements are either married with kids, or backpacking through life with no sense of purpose.

So how do you stop a freeloader from living with you?

You need to look out for those tell-tale signs and be a big girl about setting very clear boundaries if you don’t want someone taking advantage of you.

1. Use your brain

As mundane as getting to know someone online before meeting them in person is, you could be saving yourself a lot of time and trouble. Try establish their level of stability. Nine times out of ten potential dates/hook-ups/partners who are vague about their living arrangements are either married with kids, or backpacking through life with no sense of purpose.

2. Boundaries

If you do get to meeting in person, set boundaries. Taking someone home with you on the same day you meet is your choice, but it’s a good idea to clarify that they’ll have to leave the next morning. You have work to do, you're meeting someone for breakfast, whatever.

3. Set the tone 

If you get the feeling that your sleepover friend isn’t going to be leaving any time soon, don’t be fake about it. Let them know that they’ve overstayed their welcome. Do NOT keep sleeping with said freeloader unless you’re happy to justify that with another month of obligatory rent-free house-share.

4. Stop being nice 

Make your living space as unpleasant as possible for your freeloader: Invite your friends’ kids and family members over, disconnect your wifi and TV, get rid of the couch, change your locks, do what you must but stop being nice. Freeloaders will extend their welcome if you’re friendly and accommodating.