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If you’ve been to Uninspired before, you probably know how passionate I am about online dating. I talk about it a lot because I think it’s really important that we use this advance in technology to our advantage rather than our detriment. Normally, I do that by writing about etiquette in messages. Today, I’m going to tell you my rules for staying safe on an online date. They’re the rules I personally follow, and since I’m still here to tell you about them, you can trust me!
Staying Safe on an Online Date
For me, saying safe on a online date involves following five rules. They are 1) tell a trusted person where you’ll be 2) tell someone at your date location you’re meeting an online date 3) don’t let him pick you up 4) go somewhere familiar and 5) be honest with yourself. I’ll explain each below.
1. Keep a trusted friend or family member in the loop.
This is important for staying safe on an online date because, duh, if something goes wrong, someone can find you. In addition to telling someone where you’ll be, you may also want to come up with a safe word or text. For example, sending a quick “!” could alert the person to come get you, call the police, etc. Or something that looks innocuous like “did you feed the dog?”
You should also give them a time to expect you to check in, so that if you don’t, they know to check on you or get help.
2. Tell the bartender or hostess your situation.
Many bars have a system specifically for situations like this. Ordering an “angel shot” for example could really be a signal for the bartender to get security or call police. Try to arrive early so you can speak with someone about this before your date gets there.
If your date location doesn’t have it’s own system, you should still ask for someone to keep an eye on you. You can even set up your own code! For example, Starbucks probably doesn’t have anything in place, but you should ask your barista if they can call police if you come up and ask for more almond milk. It might seem extra, and of course chances are slim the guy is actually a serial killer, but this is a classic case where you should rather be safe than sorry.
3. Don’t let him pick you up, especially not where you live.
While all these rules are important for staying safe on an online date, I think this one’s the most important. I’ve seen so many women not follow it. Ladies, never get in the car with an internet stranger. Just do yourself a favor and take control of your fate in that tiny way. Even if you trust him completely, which you shouldn’t if you’ve never met him. Even if he’s just trying to show off his chivalry. Real chivalry means respecting your need to feel safe. Once you’re in his car, he could take you anywhere.
Part II: if you’re going to ignore me and let him pick you up, at least be at a neutral location. For the love of God, don’t give an internet stranger your address. Again, if he respects you and/or understands women’s safety concerns, this won’t be a problem. If you’re afraid it will be, that’s a big red flag that you shouldn’t go. As a matter of fact, he should respect you more for sticking to your boundaries and morals.
4. Go somewhere you’ve been before.
Sure, it seems really romantic for him to suggest that trendy bar you’ve been meaning to try. Or adventurous to go to dinner in a new neighborhood. Until he’s driving you there (which he shouldn’t be!) and you don’t know you’re not headed in the right direction until you’re at a poker game in an abandoned insane asylum. Or until he turns out to be a total creep and you don’t know where you are to get yourself out. Again, just save the adventure and chivalry for the second date. If you’re afraid you won’t get to the second date, you probably shouldn’t go on the first one.
5. Listen to your gut and be honest with yourself.
Let me put it this way: if you get red flags from someone’s online dating profile, where they have every opportunity to showcase themselves as positively as possible, it’s in your best interest to heed the warning. I don’t care how cute he is, or how long you’ve been single. This risk is not worth the reward.
Just a few weeks ago, I came across a very cute guy on OKCupid. Red flag #1. Just kidding. (Am I?) But I ignored my better judgement and messaged him. We shared quite a bit of witty banter, then it abruptly stopped. I checked his bio, and there was a whole new section listing things he didn’t want his matches to do, and I’d done all of them. It was like he wrote it out of frustration with specifically me. Red flag #2. Then after two days, he continued our conversation like nothing happened, and those things all disappeared from his bio. Red flag #3. I still decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, until this:
So seriously, listen to and be honest with yourself. It’ll keep you out of remote cabins in the woods.
Staying safe on an online date is so important!
For real. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but for women, not following these rules can be the difference between life and death. And honestly, it only requires a little common sense and self-control on your part. Nothing you don’t already have! So, next time you’re on Tinder and you stumble upon someone you’d love to hang out with, keep this list in mind and staying safe on an online date will be as easy as swiping right!