How To Stay Safe When Online Dating
First dates are not only scary because you’re putting yourself out there emotionally, but also because meeting a complete stranger you only know online is terrifying. There are things you can do to make yourself feel safer on dates. For the most part, dating apps and websites have given us a fun new way to connect with people—but online dating has introduced some new issues. Interacting with strangers through apps can put you at risk for identity theft, online harassment, and theft. And if you decide to meet up in the real world, there’s unfortunately also a chance you could find yourself in physical danger.
You’re never responsible for the disrespectful behaviour of others, but there are things you can do to protect yourself when you’re interacting with a stranger.
It’s important to look out for the following warning signs when online dating:
Claims that your introduction was meant to be, especially early in communication.
Asks for money, goods or any similar type of assistance, especially if you have never met in person.
Wants the relationship to progress faster than you are comfortable going.
Reports a sudden personal crisis and pressures you to provide assistance.
Asks inappropriate questions.
Requests your home or work address under the guise of sending gifts.
Gives vague answers to specific questions.
Insists on getting overly close, very fast.
Claims to be recently widowed.
Meeting in person is exciting. Have fun and explore the level of chemistry you share with your date, but don’t let high hopes cloud your ability to exercise reasonable caution.
Choose the time and place of your date wisely. Meet in a public place at a decent hour during which lots of people will be around. Lunch dates work especially well.
Arrange your own transportation. It’s smart to avoid letting someone know exactly where you live until you know them better. Drive yourself to the date or get a ride, but don’t have your date pick you up or take you home.
Stay aware and alert. You should be able to trust those around you to be respectful, safe, and kind, but unfortunately that’s not always reality. Take extra care of yourself when you’re out with a stranger. Don’t leave your drink unattended, drink less than you would if you were out with close friends, and avoid staying out until you’re really tired.
Keep some emergency cash on hand. Keep a little bit of cash somewhere on your person so that you have money if your bag or wallet gets lost or stolen.
Tell at least one friend or family member about your plans and when you will return. Arrange to check in with them after each of the first few dates. Install the Find My Friends app and keep it turned on on your phone so your friends can track where you are.
Carry a fully charged mobile phone with easily accessible emergency numbers.
Leave unattended personal belongings that may contain items that could reveal personal information about you unattended.
Meet at your house or place of work or give that information out until you have had a good opportunity to know the other person better.
Don’t ask tons of personal questions (even if you’re on a real date). The whole idea of talking online and meeting in real life is to get to know another person, but avoid asking a lot of questions that could make someone uncomfortable or suspicious of your intentions. Focus on talking about interests, hobbies, career, music taste, etc.—don’t grill them about specifics.
Incur large expenses on a date without first discussing how the cost will be divided.
Go home with someone, even if it feels like everything is going great. You have not spent enough time with them to assess whether your safety is at risk.
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