How to be Safe When Going on a Date
Online dating sites today have tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of users. While many platforms are working on improving their safety features, the sheer multitude of users ups the risk of meeting someone with less than stellar intentions.
Staying safe on a date begins with a Google search before meeting someone in person for the first time. https://unmask.com provides a wealth of information, all of which is publicly accessible. You need an idea of what kind of person you're meeting. If you can, search for pictures of your date and see what you can unearth beyond their social media.
While this is the best tip, it won't hurt to take the rest into account too.
Let Someone Know Where You Are
It will help if someone knows where you are in case things don't go as planned. Tell a friend or relative where you're going, with whom, and when you'll be home. Give them your date's name and number. Get in touch with them if something changes. A bit of paranoia is a healthy thing. Think about it: if no one knows where you are, they'll never find out if something goes wrong.
Video Chat Before Going Out
Daters today can choose from Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and many other video chat options. You need to see what your date looks like before you actually meet face to face. This reduces the risk of falling prey to a catfisher.
Use Google Voice
If your country supports Google Voice, it's a good idea to use one such number instead of your own. This will bring your safety a step further. The Google Voice app lets you check messages, calls, and voicemail without revealing your real number. You should keep your personal number safe and give it only to people you trust. The app also lets you block numbers.
Use Public Transport or Drive
Carpooling may be convenient and environmentally friendly, but it's best to forgo its benefits on the first date. If you agree to carpool, your date will know where you live right from the start. That might not be the information you want to give out since they'll then have more control over what you do and where you go. For the first date, choose a place that's accessible by public transport or drive yourself. If you take your own vehicle, you'll avoid awkward or dangerous situations as you will be the only one deciding where you go.
Chat by Phone Before Meeting
This traditional alternative to video chatting is a good way to reach out to someone before meeting them in person. Hearing someone's voice allows you to notice verbal cues that you can't pick up on with texting or instant messaging. It also helps get an impression of the person before meeting them.
Choose a Public Place for the First few Dates
There will be plenty of occasions to go on more private dates once you two hit it off and trust each other. In the beginning, however, isolated spots are best avoided. Meet in places where there are lots of people around, like a café, movie theater, or restaurant.
Run a Background Check
To follow up on our first point: while it's helpful, a simple Google search might miss important information like a criminal record. Background search services can pull up this info for you among other facts. Search sex offender registries as well. You absolutely need to know if the person you're planning to meet has a criminal record and cancel well in advance if that's the case.
Don't be Tempted to Overshare
If you're on the socially awkward side, you probably tend to talk about yourself when you first meet someone. We want to avoid awkward silence and we don't know what to talk about, so we start giving out personal information. It's very easy to overshare.
Here is yet another reason to do a search on your date: you might learn about things you have in common, like shared hobbies or other interests, and talk about that. Just don't give yourself away. While it's your right to search people you're meeting, they might not feel comfortable knowing that you did.
What information is off limits on a first date? That would be your birthday, where your family lives, and locations you normally visit. Save this info for when you know your date better.
Be Careful With the Booze
Another consequence of social anxiety is "overindulging" in alcohol on dates. Don't drink more than you can carry because your date might not be as well-meant as all that. You just don't know. Moreover, never leave drinks unattended. GHB is a colorless, odorless date rape drug that can cause severe disorientation. Unfortunately, these drugs - another one being Rohypnol - are still a thing.
If you want to be 100% safe, don't accept a drink unless you watched the bartender prepare it or opened it yourself. You could just not drink on the first date.
In sum, a background check is the single most effective safety measure when going on a date, but the rest are worth taking. You can have fun without compromising safety.