Gone are the days when you dated someone who was introduced to you by another friend or family member. Today the “set up” of choice is through a mobile app or an online dating website. According to Staticsbrain.com, there are about 49 million people who have tried online dating. Combine that statistic with eHarmony.com who said about 53% of people lie on their online profile. Houston we have a problem! Thebittersweetlife.com stated in one of their articles that the online dating business is a $4 billion dollar business, making it bigger than adult sites. They went on to say that although there are more men than women online, about 10% of them are offenders. The last alarming dating safety statistic came from InternetPredatorstatistics.com that stated each year Internet predators commit more than 16,000 abductions and 100 murders. With all the information I found in my research, I came to the deduction that although analytics can figure out your perfect match, it can’t analyze your safety. That practice is still left to us humans. This article lists 15 ways to help you increase your safety while meeting your “perfect guy”, who is still a “perfect stranger” when you date online.
15 Before meeting, chat online...
When you first meet someone online, the first few questions to ask are his name, his likes and his profession. As you get to know him more, switch up your conversation to include his past relationships, likes and dislikes with his former girlfriend, job information, family stories, reason for the breakup, etc. There is a saying in the online dating world, “The more you chat, the more you can check facts.” The truth is that liars don’t remember lies, yet honest people will always tell the truth. Their story will never change. Granted a good liar will believe his lies so many times it becomes his truth, however digging deeper helps reveal which information is true or false. Waiting to meet also cancels out the people who are not sincerely interested. However, this doesn’t rule out the sex offender. They are called stalkers for a reason.
14 Never give out your personal info...
In today’s world, it’s awful to say but people are only concerned with themselves. And sadly, some of them won’t think twice about taking advantage of you. Many times, it’s the nurturing women who fall into the trap of trusting too easily when they should be cautious instead. Whenever someone you are chatting with asks for your personal information, don’t give it to them regardless of whatever pitiful situation they claim to be in. Sad to say, but that is their problem, not yours. Even when you meet them in person and feel that they are trustworthy, the rule should be unless they give you their personal information, then you shouldn’t give them yours. This is one way to test their honesty. The warning for any exchange is checking to make sure their card is real. The con-artist can always cancel a card or show you a card that is old/fake. The lesson here is to never hand out personal information. If you can, always run a background check on whoever it is that’s interested in you. There’s no harm in covering all your bases. Today there are plenty of websites that help you verify the information they supplied.
13 Before you meet, get his number...
When you exchange numbers, be certain to call him at different times of the day to confirm that this is, in fact, his contact number. Then share that number with two of your closest friends or your safety circle (Ideally, it should be a support group consisting of 5 people that you can contact at any time to help keep you safe). Although this seems sketchy, there’s a good reason why you should share his number to a select few: If someone else has the number and something happens to you, the police can track the phone and hopefully your location. Another strategy that women who have supportive and protective friends use is to ask one of their girlfriends call their date to let him know her safety is important and that she has his number. Although that is a little extreme, it does send an important message: He needs to take good care of their friend.
12 Tell someone the details of your first meeting/date...
How many times have you been told that it’s better to be safe than sorry? Letting others know the location and time when you are meeting your date for the first time is a great safety precaution. That’s because if, for any reason, something went wrong and you could only text for help, at least they know where you are and can send police immediately to your current location. Another tactic is for your friends to call the establishment and discretely notify the manager that their friend needs help because she is in a compromising situation. In addition, it is a good idea to let your friends know what you are wearing. Just in case there is a need for a physical description, they can give one as detailed as possible. If after meeting him you don't feel comfortable, but want to take time to meet him to rule out any suspicions, it's a good idea to let him know you told your friends you were meeting him. This is a polite way of letting him know that someone else knows your whereabouts. Predators tend to think twice knowing they can easily be identified and traced.
11 NEVER let him pick you up from your house.
Let’s be honest, if you met this person online, you really don’t know anything about him other than what he tells you, right? So why would you let a total stranger know where you live? Not only is it risky for you, he could also be a potential threat to other people who live with you. There’s also the matter of what if he isn’t your type? Do you really want him to know where you live? If he doesn't know your address, it decreases the chances of running into him whether by chance or on purpose. When planning your meeting, ALWAYS meet him at your wherever your date takes place. If he insists, let him know that your schedule is packed and you are not certain of your exact location at the time he wants to pick you up. If he still insists, have him pick you up at a public place far from your house. A 5-10 mile distance is a good rule. Let it also be an area you never frequent. Which brings us to the end of the night: After your night out, take a cab home. The point is NEVER take him home.
10 Text or call to let friends/safety circle know you arrived...
This is a good safety tip because in the case of an abduction, police have a time frame. That might sound worrisome, but the cold truth is criminals usually display patterns of behavior at certain periods, and that timetable lets the police determine your odds of survival. By knowing when he met you, they can estimate and figure out the perpetrator's next move. Letting your friends know when you arrive and how the date is going lets them know you're safe. It also serves as the starting point in the timetable. This way, they can bail you out when the date goes south. You know… the 20 minutes after I arrive just in case it’s a phish date call.. Or the 30 minute phone call in case it’s a boring date. The thing to remember is constant communication is key. Besides, doesn’t it feel great to know someone has your back? That’s one more reason to text your friends, even if it does turn out that your date is great and harmless.
9 Take a selfie of you with your date.
This might also seem a little extreme, but in today’s world you can never be too sure. By taking the picture, at least you have a record of his appearance (which makes it easier for the authorities to identify him), especially if he is a catfish. You then can send it to your girlfriends or your safety circle. Be certain that when you take the picture, the two of you are looking straight into the camera. Don't allow him to kiss you on the cheek or any other gestures that would potentially cover his face. Taking his picture is an effective safety measure for the quick “hook ups” that you met online. You know the type, the one that asks, “What you doing?”, or “Let’s hang out.” Then wants your phone number and where you live to pick you up. You know the type, the online booty calls. Or in some cases something else. Another idea is post your picture on social media. Creating an online footprint is one way of tracking you just in case it's necessary. However that method is strictly for the socialite. Keep in mind if you keep posting and it's only your first date, it might be a turn off to your companion. Instead, sending the picture to your friends discreetly is a good method to keep you safe and the date romantic at the same time. NOTE: Go to the ladies room to send the picture to your friends. Better to be safe privately than transparently sorry.
8 Create a safe word or emojis as code for your status.
When meeting someone that you don’t know for the first time, communication is key. The more you let your friends know you are safe, the more your date knows that you are protected. There are ways to send messages to your friends/safe circle that doesn't make think you are a little paranoid, but that is a matter for another article. As much as you want to be safe, you also don’t want to clue him in on your tactics. In order to seem less suspicious, establish a safe word so that when your friends call you to check on you, speaking the safe word will tell them how it’s going without revealing anything to your date. It’s also a great way to have them bail you out if it’s safe but still not going so well. Think about it. This is still a great way to bail out even if your date is perfectly harmless. Your friend’s phone call can always save the day.
7 Take a picture of his license plate and/or car...
OK, so you met him, he seems nice, and he may even be a great date. So you decide to go somewhere else to continue the date. Now this is a critical stage of the dating game, especially if you met him for the first time and you discovered him online. How do you let your friends know you are going someplace else? One option is to simply take a picture of his license plate. As you are walking by the front or back of his car, stand by the plate and take a picture. Or as a keepsake for the date, have someone take a picture of you and him in front of his car. Again, in case of an emergency, your friends/safety circle can report the model and make of the car to the police. That information is so important to save a life. The more the police know, the more they can effectively help you. It goes without saying that this only applies if your date has a car to begin with. If he doesn't, then text your next location and means of transportation.
6 If at a hotel, lock the deadbolt on the door yourself.
This rule is meant to protect you from anyone else coming in the room without you noticing. Some cases of abuse or worse occur after the first guy has been intimate with his victim. She may agree to go to bed with him, but in the middle of intercourse, the other guys use their copy of the room key to open the door. If the deadbolt on the door is locked, no one other than the individuals in the room can get into the room. If you are in the room and someone knocks on the door, tell your partner to get the door. As he gets the door, grab your things and your phone and lock yourself in the bathroom. Do not leave the bathroom until they do. In the event they don’t leave, you can call the hotel front desk for help or your friends/safety circle. Or if you think you are in immediate danger call the police.
5 Watch what you drink.
One of the most common ways predators get their victims is to slip drugs into their drinks. So how do you decrease the odds of being the next victim? First, always see how your drink is mixed at the bar. Always watch how the bartender makes your drink. Also, you should be there when the bartender hands over your drink. If you happen to be preoccupied while your drink is made, let one of your girlfriends hand your drink to you. If for any reason you are away from your drink, make sure you cover the glass with a napkin and poke a hole with your straw. This way, if anyone touches your drink, you can tell because the straw has been tampered with. However, the best piece of advice is to always take your drink with you. Never let it out of your sight. Lastly, if someone asks you to taste a drink, you tell them, “After you.” If they drugged the drink, many times they won’t want to pass out, so they won’t take a sip before you.
4 If you get tired or woozy, go home immediately.
If for some reason you suddenly feel drowsy or dizzy, it would be best and safe not to let anyone you don’t know help when you are in this state. There is a chance that something was slipped in your food or drink. Any form of help can hinder you from getting away because it could be the excuse of a captor. If for any reason you are not alert or don’t feel well, remove yourself from the situation. If you don’t have anyone to call, go to management. If you are in a hotel, dial the front desk and ask for a cab. This way, your companion in the room can't say they will take you home. Lastly, if all else fails and you don’t feel safe, dial 911. It also helps to take note of the time you started feeling unwell. This could help with your testimony and the doctors if you have to get medical help.
3 Take a group picture during the night while having fun.
This simple practice could definitely save you from being a potential victim. If your date and his group of friends don’t want to take a picture with you, get away as fast as you can. Even if there are only a few of them, take that as a warning sign. It could mean that those guys do not want to be implicated. Still, do your best to take a picture with them. When you do take a picture, send it to friends or people within your safety circle. This simple action can help you see which of your male companions have the best of intentions. Worst case scenario, if something did happen, that picture enables the police to identify possible suspects and question everyone in the picture, thereby giving them information they can use to help save you or bring justice. Another option, as mentioned earlier, is to create an online footprint that could help the authorities.
2 At end of date, let a friend pick you up or take a cab.
Ok, so the date went great. He was on his best behavior and now it’s time to go home. If you don’t know him, it’s best to take a cab home or have a friend pick you up. Until you are confident this is a person really interested in you (and not just for sex but for a relationship), there’s no harm in being cautious. Meaning the less he knows of your personal information, the more you can protect yourself from potential harm. Another important tip is when taking a cab, don’t let him jump in the car with you even when he has offered to pay. You can either refuse his offer or test how much of a gentleman he really is by letting him pay for the cab and you tell him you will call him when you get home. Then wait until the door is shut and the cab driver is pulling off to tell him your address. Ladies remember, at this point, you still don’t know a lot about him. Only time and patience will tell if he is who he says he is.
1 Text your friends/ safety circle when you get home.
It’s a good safety precaution that when you arrive home to text your friends you made it home. This lets them know you got there safe. If, however, you had a date and felt very unsure, the second precaution is for you to call them one hour after you arrive, following your arrival call. This let’s your friends and safety circle know you are fine. Yet, if you were being stalked and he returned to harm you, the unexpected phone call might just save your life. You should let him know that they will call the police you if you don’t answer. When you answer, use one of your safe words to let the caller know to call the police.
Ladies, the purpose of this article is not to make you scared of dating, but to make you aware of what could happen and hopefully keep you safe. The best advice is to try to meet people within your social circle because then you will have people that know him. The more information you have of him, the better. However, if you can’t and online is your only option, then remember this: He is a question mark until you know him. Only then can you to make him a statement. ENJOY YOUR DATE!