Dating safety tips should be read by all online daters to make sure they don’t fall prey to stalkers, scammers, or potential abusers. Whether are you just thinking about getting started with online dating or are a seasoned dating pro, follow these safety tips to make sure your dream date doesn’t turn into a nightmare.
Secure Your Computer
Treat online dating the same as you would online banking. Always use a secure computer. If you are using a computer with public access, remember to log completely out of your account at the end of each session. Select a clever user name that doesn’t reveal your true identity, and always choose a strong password. For an extra measure of caution, create an email account just for your online dating communications. Again, make sure others can’t deduce your real name from your email address.
Use Common Sense
Online dating provides the unique advantage of being able to message and phone people a few times before meeting in person. Take advantage of that to get a sense of how honest the person is. If there are any red flags that this person might not have the noblest of intentions, stop all communication politely but immediately. If they react poorly, you can feel even better about dodging a huge bullet. Relationship expert, Lisa Hayes, warns that people who withhold critical information or continually postpone first meetings usually have ulterior motives or are married.
Keep it Public
When you are ready to go on the first date, always meet in a public area during normal hours. Driving yourself protects you in two ways: you have control of getting to and from the date, and you don’t need to give your date any clues about where you live. Likewise, don’t offer to give your date a lift. It doesn’t matter who’s behind the wheel; a violent criminal only needs to get you alone in the car to abduct you. Always tell a trusted friend or family member who your date is and where you are going. Set up a call code to let them know you if you need immediate help. Be sure to let them know when you have returned home safely.
Once you’ve met up with your date, pay attention to your surroundings. Notice the little things about their behavior. Do they snap at the waitress? Get agitated waiting in line? Act possessive of your attention? Any of these things can be a warning sign of someone with the potential to be physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive. Domestic violence is not limited to any socioeconomic status or to marriage. Don’t allow someone to sweet talk you into an abusive relationship. Remember, abusers are very charming when they want something. If your date does something alarming, speak up. Let others know you are in trouble and wait there until you can leave safely.
Sane and Sober
Alcohol impairs judgment. Period. Drinking on a first date not only clouds your thoughts, you will become less inhibited and more likely to reveal too much about your life that a predator can later use to harm you. And don’t leave your coffee unattended either. You don’t want to become the next date rape statistic. On a similar note, you should always keep track of your belongings, too. A quick thief can skim a credit card from your wallet or find out where you live in the time it takes to go ask the hostess a question.
Yes, you want to trust this person you hope will be the one. But trust your instincts first and foremost. Protect yourself and your belongings. Guard your privacy like your life depends on it—because it just might.
Want to share a scary first date experience? Post your story here.