Dating allows you to get to know someone better, but in the initial stages of dating, it's impossible to know exactly what type of person you're dealing with. For this reason, it's important to take some precautions to make sure dating is an enjoyable -and safe- activity.
Before the First Date
There are steps you can take to increase the odds of safe dating encounters, especially before heading out for a first date with someone.
While some people suggest full-blown background checks before a first date, the problem with formal background checks is that they only list information that has been reported; these background checks don't really tell you much about what kind of person your date is. Instead, a simple Google search can yield impressive results.
The Huffington Post suggests that a Google search can help you decipher whether your date is the person he or she portrays to you. Pay attention to social media results too, and if you and your date have friends in common, reach out to those friends and ask a few questions. This should help you decide if there are red flags that should cause you to pause before your date.
If you are meeting with your date for the first time, especially if you have never met your date in person before, tell a friend where you are going and at what time. YourTango suggests that letting your friends know where you are going on your date is essential to dating safety.
It's not a bad idea to have a friend quietly eating at the same restaurant or watching the same movie, not interrupting your date but keeping an eye on the situation.
During the Date
One of the most important tips for staying safe while dating is to trust your instincts, according to the University of Birmingham Police Department. If you get a weird feeling while on the date, or even when chatting with your prospective date online or over the phone, it's likely a good sign that you shouldn't meet up.
Although having your date pick you up at your home may seem like the most chivalrous route, allowing someone else to control your ability to go home can put you at a disadvantage. That's why SheKnows advises both women and men to stay in charge of their own transportation when first getting to know someone else. This way, you are free to leave the date if you want to, without having to worry about how to get home or getting your date home if you're the one who drove.
Your first few dates with a new person should be in a public place with lots of people around. U.S. News and World Report says that meeting in a public place is particularly important when you meet someone for the first time.
Public place may not seem very romantic or intimate, but until you really get to know someone it's best to meet in places where, in a worst case scenario, you could get help from someone else.
Popular dating website eHarmony stresses the importance of staying sober when on a date with someone you don't know well. While it's true that alcohol can relax you, it can also cause you to not think clearly and may lead you to make bad decisions. You might also miss important cues from your date that would otherwise make you feel uncomfortable.
Keep an eye on your drink during your date too. It doesn't take much time at all for someone to slip something into your drink, resulting in you getting drugged without even realizing it.
If you're actively dating online, take specific precautions to protect you during the process of "meeting" people online before actually meeting in person.
Guard Identity Information
There is a fine line between revealing who you truly are and revealing too much information. Match.com reminds online daters that they need to be cautious about the information they provide within their profile and while chatting with other people online.
- Don't provide information that allows people to find you in person, such as your address, place of work, or the name of the school your kids attend.
- Never provide any information that might help someone steal your identity including (but not limited to) account numbers, Social security number, name of your financial institution, or your mother's maiden name.
- Do not tell people where you will be at a certain time unless you're ready to meet them. For example, don't tell someone that you have front row tickets to a specific symphony performance on a specific evening.
One of the great features of most dating websites is that they allow you to block members who you don't wish to have contact with. Don't feel apprehensive about using the block feature, says AARP. It may feel rude to block someone, but it's better to eliminate contact with people who give you a bad feeling than it is to keep allowing them contact.
There is a good chance that the people you date will generally be nice folks with no bad intentions, but it's best to take precautions to ensure you don't find yourself in a bad situation. Have the patience to get to know someone well and build up mutual trust, which can be a solid foundation of a successful relationship.