Online dating, like any dating, can be scary. As a woman, I feel very vulnerable when going to meet a man I’ve not met, or even someone I don’t know that well. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way thanks to the #metoo movement, which sees women sharing their experiences, stories of when they’ve felt unsafe or been attacked by a man. That’s not great, and it almost makes me want to not date at all, so I’m safe-but I refuse to live my life differently because of fear. I do, however, have certain things I ALWAYS do when I’m going to meet someone, to make myself more safe. If you’re looking to start online dating there are lots of free dating sites you can use.
Meet in public
It goes without saying that you’re far safer meeting a stranger in a public place than going back to their house or somewhere deserted. If you’re in a busy pub, a cinema, a restaurant or somewhere else with lots of people, there’s people you can ask for help if you need it. Any decent person is going to be quite happy to meet in a public place at first, if they don’t want to that would ring alarm bells for me.
Check in with friends
If I’m meeting someone, for a date or even a female friend I don’t know well, I let a couple of trusted, close friends know where I’m going. I check in regularly with them (letting my date know I’m doing so, too) and I send them my live location for 24 hours on Whatsapp. This means that if I move to a different bar and forget to tell them, they can check and find that out. This won’t actually stop something happening to me, truthfully, but it will mean the police would know where I’d been, if it ever came to that.
Ask for Angela
Lots of bars have a phrase ‘is Angela in tonight?’ which actually means ‘I need help getting out of this situation’. Asking for Angela alerts them to the fact you don’t feel safe and it means someone stays with you until you are safely in a taxi or back to your car. It’s worth noting though that you can actually just say to bar staff ‘I don’t feel safe, please help me leave here safely’ and they will do so-even if you can be overheard, still say it. Risking offending your date is far better than risking your own safety if you’re worried.
Have an exit strategy
When I’m meeting someone, I always make it clear beforehand that I can only stay for an hour because I have to be somewhere. It’s always somewhere people would notice if I was late-like a family meal or babysitting for a friend. I’ve frequently pretended to text my friend to say I’m going to be later than planned if the date is going well, but I’ve had dates where it’s been very useful to leave after a short time without staying so as not to cause offence. Nothing sinister, just a clash of personalities.
It’s important to remember that all men are not predators, 99% of people you meet are normal, genuine people who wouldn’t dream of making you feel unsafe, and this post isn’t meant to scare anyone. It’s simply to say that decent men expect you to take safety precautions, dodgy men hope you won’t. Make sure you do.
What safety precautions do you take when going on a date?