15 Tips to Stay Safe in the World of Online Dating

Yesterday I heard the terrible news about a local woman, Ingrid Lyne, whose remains were found in a recycling bin shortly after going on a date to a Mariners game with the suspect, whom she had reportedly been dating for a month. She was a nurse at Swedish First Hill (where I delivered my son) and a single mother of three young daughters. I did not know her, but my heart just breaks for her family.

Let me preface my advice by saying I don’t believe she did anything wrong. I’m sure there will be more information and details to be revealed soon that may shed a different light on the story, (which you can read more about online)  but she had every right to go on a date with anyone she wished. Yes she was a mother and had responsibilities, but she also deserved every happiness as we all do.

It is impossible to be 100% safe when dating, as it is impossible to be fully protected from harm in everyday life. You can avoid risk, and choose to not meet strangers or even date at all - or you can manage the risk and protect yourself as much as possible. Here are some tips I’ve pulled together to help you be a safer dater:

 

BEFORE THE DATE

Image: Pexels / stockpic.com

Image: Pexels / stockpic.com

1 - Don't publish personal information on dating websites.

.Like your last name, phone number, or email address), and consider keeping social media accounts private. Don't feel pressured to connect with anyone on social media before meeting them in person. 

2 - Consider taking self-defense classes or workshops.

Even if you don't feel like a physically strong person, with the few moves you can get yourself out of danger. Here's one I just learned recently: if someone comes up behind you with a strong hold around you, step to the side then reach back and punch the groin!  

3 - Carry personal protection. 

You can also carry protection, like pepper spray, as long as you know how to use it and it is legal to do so in your area (in Seattle it is if you are over 18), but may not be allowed in certain arenas or clubs. Learn before you go. 

You can find pepper spray at most sporting good stores, or online at Amazon. 

4 - When you connect with someone, talk on the phone before meeting.

This one seems the scariest for an introvert like me, but I know it's also a quick way to see if your personalities click together, or if there is something a little off about your date. 

Image: Pexels.com

Image: Pexels.com

5 - Tell a friend.

When you are ready for the date, tell a friend your plans - including who you are going out with, where you are going, and when you should be home. 



ON THE DATE + GETTING HOME

Image: Seattle Date Night 

Image: Seattle Date Night 

6 - Meet in a public place.

It is common knowledge to choose a public place to meet the first time, not your home, but remember this includes your place of work even if it is a busy office building downtown. You don't want a creep to know where you go everyday!

7 - STAY in a public place. 

Don't follow them back to their house or get in their car if you don't feel safe. Don't be afraid to say no if they ask for a ride home in your car. If they decide to take a bus home with you and you'd rather they not know where you live, get off before your stop and catch a different bus. 

 

8 - Learn to read people and look for red flags. 

Learn how to become a good judge of character, and to look for signs that something may not be quite right. Some things to watch for: 

  • Are they filled with sudden, irrational anger at times like being mean to the waiter for no reason?
  • Do they blame others for all of their problems or past failures?
  • Are they becoming too attached too fast, emotionally (using words like soulmate or confessing their love, saying how perfect you are for each other after just one date) or physically?
  • Do they only talk about themselves or exhibit narcissistic behavior?
  • Are they too controlling, choosing where to go and what to order without asking you?
  • Are they manipulative with your self-esteem, mixing compliments with insults?
  • Do they over communicate, with numerous texts, phone calls, or social media messages per day, and get upset that you may be ignoring them?
  • Are they almost too charming, confident, and intimate, while not showing any anxiety or fear? 

These red flags could be signs of emotional immaturity, or even worse - psychopathic behavior. Be careful!

9 - Trust your instincts.

If you feel creeped out, don't be afraid to leave at any time. Put your own safety above being polite, and trust your gut. If something tells you things are not right then get out of there. 

10 - Have an excuse ready.

You don't need to give excuses to end any date, but you're more likely to use them if you have a few handy like these basics: 

  • I don't feel well and need to go home
  • I have a headache / migraine
  • I have plans to meet up with a friend
  • I have a very demanding job and need to get things done
  • You remind me too much of my ex
  • I don't think we are right for each other

11 - Check in with a friend. 

If possible, keep a friend updated on how the night is going or have a plan with them before hand. For example, tell them if they don't hear from you at a certain time then something is wrong. Or the classic, have them call or text with a reason for you to leave if needed. 

12 - Don't leave your drink unattended.

It may seem paranoid, but people still get drugged. Finish your drink before you use the restroom, or ask for a new one when you return. 

13 - Avoid dangerous situations as much as possible.

After your date, don't walk down a dark alley at 3 am alone because your apartment is right around the corner, and don't cut through a park because it's faster to get to your car.  Be smart and aware of your surroundings. 

Image: unsplash.com

Image: unsplash.com

14 - Say goodbye in a crowded place. 

 If you don't feel comfortable with them walking you to your car or your door, just say no thanks. Say goodbyes in a public place, and if you can find a security guard to escort you to your vehicle. 

15 - Find help when you need it. 

Don't hesitate to call 911 if you feel threatened. Find help from those in authority positions like officers, security guards, bouncers, or even bartenders by simply telling them you are on a date and don't feel safe. Even tell a stranger in a crowded public restroom (just don't let your date follow you to an empty one). 

 

Good luck out there in the dating world, my friends

If you have any more tips please share them with everyone in the comments.