Not too long ago I was single and trepidatiously trudging through dating websites, with good reason. Although it is easy to fear strangers, women are more likely to be raped or assaulted by someone they know. I remember doing my due diligence and google searching the person I was going to be meeting up with and even searching the pictures they used on their profile.
Unfortunately being targeted by scam artists, is a legitimate concern. If you are going into internet dating, you have to be prepared to filter through the scammers and NEVER give out your private information or fall for request for money.
When I was online dating, I was most afraid of being physically assaulted. In the beginning I would text a friend all the info I had on the person I was meeting, where I was going and what time I should be back. After a few dates, this started to feel tedious. I daydreamed about starting a business where I shadowed a client while they went on dates in public to act as an emergency intervention if things got weird.
There are a few safety apps out there, unfortunately the free versions are usually too basic to do much good. The Stay Safe app offers two pin numbers, one to enter when everything is ok, another to enter when things aren’t ok and someone is making you enter a code anyways (it appears to deactivate but actually calls the police or emergency contacts), college students the OnWatch app offers some assistance varying from calling friends, to campus police.
Some tips to remember:
- Do you research and get to know them a little bit first.
- Don’t give out too much information. This applies to information about where you live or work AND nude pictures of yourself. (Think of everyone as a potential stalker).
- Tell someone who you are going out with, where you are going and when you will check in.
- Meet in public, stay in public! (It’s surprising how many people feel that it is okay to invite someone over to their house or invite themselves over on a first or second date!)
- Trust your instincts, pay attention if your date ignores your requests or acts suspiciously.
- Cut your losses early. Don’t be afraid to fake a stomach ache, tiredness, or an emergency call from a friend.
- Have an exit strategy. Whether it’s driving separately, having money for a Uber, or having a friend come get you, do not go out without a back up plan.