Some Not-So-Obvious Online Dating Safety Tips

I am hardly the most cautious person, as evidenced by my blind-double-date at a stranger’s apartment and approximately 70% of all of the drunken decisions I made in college (no, YOU totally hitchhiked on Spring Break in Panama City Beach to the Waffle House…) Of course, with age and experience comes wisdom, so I’ve taken to a few tips and tricks that help me at least feel safer when I go on dates.

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Probably my most favorite and totally doable thanks to technological advances, I share my iPhone location with a few friends. Two local friends of mine can always check in on my GPS location (well, wherever my phone is) any time… which means that if I tell them I’m going on a date downtown and at 4am my phone locates me in the Central Florida swamp, they can alert the authorities. Obviously this isn’t fool-proof, and it’s completely reliant on my friends actually checking in on me, but I feel safer knowing that if they don’t hear from me or have cause for concern, they have a quick way to get a location update.

Of course, the iPhone trick is 10x more effective when you actually tell those friends where you’re going, and who you’ll be with. Is it creepy to send them the bar address, along with the guy’s photo, address, and any other key basic information? Yes. Is being creepy better than being dead? Absolutely yes. He doesn’t need to know you’re doing this… unless you’re me and tell guys your roommate knows exactly where he is.

One of the biggest gripes about online/app dating is that you can find out so much about a person before you even go out with them… it takes away from the getting-to-know-you process. So, what about a compromise? Instead of ending up 72 weeks back on his Instagram account and accidentally liking that photo of him and his ex girlfriend… Google your date. A simple search for a person’s name, city, and the words “mug shot” or “record” will quickly tell you if you’re about to get drinks with a felon. Does this sound extreme? Yep. Have I also found this 15-second precaution extremely helpful in multiple situations with men? Survey says… YEP.

Sidebar, because I feel the need to explain: I Googled a Tinder match before meeting up with him, and his name returned results for a guy with a sexual assault conviction. Upon further research (like comparing their photos and ages) I was relieved to find out it was a different person with the same name. In another instance, an old friend tried to reconnect with me, but his story since we’d lost touch didn’t quite add up. Goog’s informed me that a couple weeks prior, a Bumble date had pressed sexual assault charges on him. Boy, bye

Know your boundaries and stick up for yourself. If you’re uncomfortable in a situation, say so and remove yourself. I usually confront initial discomfort with sarcasm and humor… if I don’t want to go back to a guy’s house or take things any further, I’ll come up with a quip that let’s us both laugh it off and move on. Usually, that works. When it doesn’t… well, my safety and comfort is more valuable to me than some pushy dude’s ego. Sorry not sorry.

The smartphones we carry around in our purses can be so helpful… but they’re useless if they’re dead. I like to carry a portable charger, so that if an awkward situation arises, I have enough battery to request an Uber or let my friends know I’m safe.

And, of course, there’s all the usual suggestions – get your own drinks, meet in public, transport yourself, trust your gut, wear a condom, don’t drink and drive, and remember… only you can prevent forest fires.

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