Online Dating Safety Tips to Consider Before the First Date
In today’s world, the “stranger danger” message our parents and teachers instilled in us no longer applies when it comes to dating. Online dating and dating apps are the new norm for meeting potential partners, so it’s important to remember some key takeaways of staying safe when meeting new people for the first time.
Here are some first date safety tips and reminders for your potential dates!
How long should you wait to see someone in person that you met online?
Online dating is a unique experience for everyone who participates, so there is no set timeline on when you should expect to meet in person for the first time.
Some people prefer to have a brief introductory conversation online and then plan the first date to get to know each other in person better, and others prefer to establish a rapport online for a longer period of time first.
Be wary of anyone who pressures you into meeting in person too soon, too quickly, as well as people who avoid meeting in person altogether.
Is it okay to Google/research someone before agreeing to a first date?
Yes! It is normal to do a bit of “digging” on your date before you go on your first date together. A lot of people don’t like to admit that they do a bit of “stalking” on their date to get a deeper glimpse into their life before meeting in person. That being said, you might not want to go decades back on their timeline without sounding a little creepy.
Keep in mind that what they choose to share or not share online is a very personal decision—some people choose not to participate in social media at all for various reasons.
So, if you can’t find any information about your date online, it’s not something that should be considered “bad” or “undesirable.” Instead, you can make it an opportunity to ask them about it when you do decide to meet in person for the first time.
What precautions should you take before meeting someone on a date for the first time?
No matter how comfortable you feel about meeting your date for the first time, there are a few tried-and-true ways to keep yourself as safe as possible.
Before meeting your date in person for the first time, be sure to:
- tell someone you trust about your plans
- keep your phone fully charged
- meet in a public space
- avoid meeting at your home or workplace
- arrange your own transportation (to and from)
A quick phone call to a friend, roommate, or neighbor about your plans is a great safety precaution. A great safety feature with newer smartphones is the ability to share your location with your contacts. Along with telling your friends or people you trust about your date, it’s also a good idea to share your location with them.
What are some of the best locations for first dates with someone you met online?
One of the cooler things about online dating and dating sites is that your date can introduce you to new places you’ve never been before.
Here are some ideas for the best places to go on your first date:
- art galleries
- comedy shows
- coffee shops or restaurants
- farmer’s markets
- bowling, miniature golf, or arcade bars
- painting/cooking classes
Safety tips to consider during a first date
Once you’ve established your online safety boundaries, it’s time to consider your physical safety in preparation for the first date. It’s always a good idea to refresh on dating safety practices before going on any dates.
Safety tips to consider when going on a first date include:
- don’t leave food/drink/personal items unattended
- stay in public, well-lit areas around other people
- monitor alcohol consumption
- bring enough cash/credit card in case of emergency
No matter how awesome your date is going, there’s always the unfortunate chance that something could go awry. Never leave your items unattended and always make sure you watch drinks being poured for you from the bartender. Trust your gut, and trust your instincts. Text a friend a code word if you ever feel unsafe.
How can you safely leave a date if you feel uncomfortable?
If you’re feeling uneasy or uncomfortable on your date, you can always let the staff at the establishment call you a taxi or a rideshare discreetly. Consider creating a safe word or phrase with your friends if you feel uncomfortable speaking openly about the situation with your date. You can always have your friend meet you there so you can leave together.
If it is dark out and you don’t feel safe alone with your date, look for any emergency blue light stations. These stations are common on college campuses and public parks that connect you to emergency services.
Safety considerations after a first date
Some online dating apps will ask you to comment whether you’ve met your matches in person or not after some time has passed. This is typically a survey to help improve their algorithm and collect research on users’ experiences.
This is your chance to report any suspicious or offensive behavior, and to have honest and open communication with your date.