The whole idea of dating is a scary adventure. You are entrusting your physical and social well-being to a virtual stranger. You will most often be travelling alone with this person in a vehicle from which it will not be easy to escape—unless you leap from moving vehicles better than I do! You will be together in relative seclusion for several hours. You will be going to a place that may not be familiar to you. Given the realities of rape, murder, drugs and assaults it is amazing that more dates don’t end badly. You think I am exaggerating? Read the newspapers! Talk to the police. Discuss first dates with your friends. There is no such thing as safe dating. That’s actually called non-dating. However, unless you wish to become a hermit or a nun, there are ways to minimize the dangers of that first date.
It is important to protect yourself physically, emotionally, and sexually from repercussions of a date gone bad. Bad dates can result in financial, professional, social, emotional or physical ruin for either or both dating partners.
Here are some ways to change a dangerous date into a safer situation.
1. Don’t Opt for Intimate Corners
It is beyond dangerous to put yourself with a virtual stranger in an isolated location. Do not opt for a cozy at-home date. There will be lots of time down the road for those occasions if this works out. If not, you don’t even want him to know where you live let alone know the layout and security of your home. Build comfort and trust before you let him know where you hang your hat! For a first encounter choose somewhere where there are others around. You might select: a coffee shop, a gymnasium, a park, a library, a well-travelled walking path, a group bird-watching, a movie theater, a restaurant, an Internet Café, a public hiking trail, or other occupied place you are familiar with.
2. Say, “I’ll Meet You There!”
Instead of being picked up, offer to meet your date at the location. That way, you avoid being trapped in a vehicle with a date gone bad and that potentially-embarrassing good-bye kiss and the pressure to invite your date in. (There’s lots of time later for those things if this turns out to be a date worth repeating.)
3. Watch what you Drink
It’s a new situation. Your nerves are on edge. It would be nice to have something to calm those nerves and even to keep your hands busy. You’re caught up in the excitement of the moment. These are all reasons to be tempted to have a drink. You don’t want to seem prim and proper but all that said: Drinking on the first date oh so not a good idea. Here’s why: Alcohol impairs judgement. You want your wits about you. Besides, you drove yourself (I hope!) and you need to be sober for that drive home. If you over imbibe, you end up looking like a lush. This is not the first-date impression you want to give—unless you don’t want a second date. You do not know this man well enough to be sure something might not end up in your drink. Date rape drugs are easily available and you are dating a complete stranger. Make yours Coke or orange juice!
3. Technology is Your Friend
In this techno-era, maintaining continuous communication is a reality. That said: It is rude to text, make cell phone calls, or receive calls during a date, a meeting, or a dinner. However use your communication device as a monitor. During your date, have someone close to you check in with you from time to time during your date. Call or text when you arrive at your date location. Provide the address where you are. Ask someone you trust to text or call you fifteen minutes into your date. That way you will be able to provide assurance that you are okay and your date will know someone is checking on you.
4. Don’t Make this a Covert Operation!
Make sure close friends or relatives know where you live know where you are on your date and your cell phone number. You might unobtrusively inform the wait staff that you are on a first date.
5. Keep some Mystery in the Relationship!
If you want this guy to call again, give him your cell phone number. Landline numbers can easily provide home addresses through reverse directory search. You’re not yet ready to give him a home address. Play it safe.
6. Keep things General:
If this is a date worth repeating, there’s lots of time later for sharing more personal information. On the first date, avoid information about your relationships and living arrangements. Keep the conversation light. Focus on shared interests, hobbies, activities, people you have in common.
7. Be on the Lookout for Red Flags.
Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel or sound right, it probably isn’t. Err on the side of being too careful even if it makes you seem paranoid. Terminate immediately any date that just makes you feel uncomfortable.
8. Less is More
First dates should not be like church services which test your stamina. In the wise words of Mary Kay: Less is more. First date should merely test the waters. They should be low key, in public places and short. An hour is lots. At the end of an hour, thank him for the lovely time, inform him that you have another activity, and exit smoothly. When you drive yourself, you avoid prolonged good-byes and difficult departures.
9. Mom’s not the Word!
If you have kids, that is a conversation for down the road. At this point, your kids and your dating life do not mix. Later you may begin to integrate the two.
10. Get the Facts!
In this electronic age, no one’s life is a secret. Go to your date informed. Knowledge is power. While it may seem a little drastic, one of my friends who is a police officer runs criminal and business check on his daughter’s dates. You would not believe the number of guys who never got a first date with her!
11. What to Wear
This is a date, not a costume party. If you know the venue, dress neatly and sensibly. Don’t send out “come hither” vibes.
Minimizing the potential dangers of a first date just makes sense. As Miguel de Cervantes put it: Forewarned is forearmed.
DateHookup. Dating Safety: A Self Defense Resource Guide for Women. http://www.datehookup.com/content-dating-safety-a-self-defense-resource-guide-for-women.htm
Global Love. Twelve Safe Dating Tips for Women. http://www.globallove.com.au/index/articles-1/
Single Minded Women. Online Dating: Great Safety Tips. http://singlemindedwomen.com/women-relationships/online-dating-safety-tips/