You’ve talked to your potential date for days, weeks, or sometimes months on the dating website. Maybe you exchanged numbers and spent time texting each other. Then, you get the invitation to lunch, dinner, or maybe just coffee. You’re a little apprehensive…and rightfully so. You set up your profile in the hopes of meeting that someone special who will become your soulmate. Yet now that it may be happening, many thoughts run through your mind. One of those thoughts is whether or not this person is who they say they are. You don’t want to be a missing person, but you don’t want to pass up meeting what may be your future spouse. The good news is that there are things you can do to increase your safety. Here some tips to have a safe date.
Have a safety call in place
At least one person needs to know that you are going out to meet someone. It really doesn’t matter that you met this person online. Even if you meet someone at the grocery store and agree to a date, someone needs to know where you will be, what time you will be there, and when you anticipate leaving. This person should know the name of your date.
Once you meet with your date, you can excuse yourself to the ladies room after a few minutes of polite conversation. Text or call the person who knows you are on your date to tell them what your date is wearing. While this may seem a little morbid, it could save your life.
Honestly, you don’t have to talk in code or leave the table. If your friend calls to check on you, you can answer your phone at the table and if you are fine, tell your safety call that things are fine. There should be no shame in your safety game, but it’s okay if you do feel like you should take or make a call away from your date.
Your appointed one should call you approximately half way through the date to check on you. When you leave, let them know…and let them know when you arrive home.
Meet in a public place
First dates should always be in a public place. In fact, until you really get to know your date you should make sure every date is in a public place. Private residences or private facilities can be dangerous. To quote a popular movie, “No one can hear you scream…” Public places offer a level of safety.
At the end of your date if you feel unsafe, ask the manager of the establishment (or security if available) to walk you to your car. Take an alternate route home. Always be aware of your surroundings.
Drive yourself to and from your date
Turn down any arrangement that involves your date picking you up from your work, home, or other location. You are not under any obligation to invite your date to your home on your first, second, or even tenth date. In a new relationship there is no reason why they should know your address.
Don’t leave your food or drink alone
Yes, this still happens. Don’t presume you’ll be able to taste the difference in your food or drink if tampering occurred. Be safe. Don’t leave your consumables unattended.
Don’t share your personal information
This is a first date. It’s not planning for your wedding. Your date does not need to know your middle name, address, mother’s maiden name, or any details about your living situation or about your children. The Internet allows people to be anyone they want to be. Never share personal information with someone you barely know. You may feel a connection with this person, but remember that people are able to scam and manipulate others because of their ability to produce a connection.
You are in control of your online dating and any relationships that result with or without it. You do not need to provide personal information until you feel ready. You can remain as anonymous as you want until you are ready. You do not have to provide your phone number, email, or instant messenger ID to anyone at any time.
Online dating can be a wonderful thing, but predators do exist. Always trust your gut and don’t be afraid to say no or even block someone. While you may feel like you know this person, remember that they are still a stranger. Like anyone that you would meet at any other venue, it is important that you take time to get to know them and not necessarily trust that they gave a true representation of who they are through their dating profile, emails and messages.