These days, one of the most common ways that people find romantic connections is through an online dating site for singles. Out of the 54 million American adults who are single and looking for mate, 49 million have used at least one online dating websites as a resource for meeting new people, with a high degree of success. In the last year, 17% of all new marriages began through an online dating service.
Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of an online dating site for singles creates a golden opportunity for predators and people who have poor intentions. The demographic of predators is a tiny fraction of the online dating population; it’s safe to say that 99% of people who use an online dating site for singles are there for the right reasons. However, to make sure you are safe from the 1% of users who may have ill-intentions, it’s important to take these simple safety precautions:
- Only use safe dating sites. While some sites have a reputation for being a good source for one night stands and sleezy users, some sites specialize in creating a safe environment to meet people. Some sites even offer background checks so that you are guaranteed that you will never be matched with one of the 10% of sex offenders who use online dating sites to meet new people.
- Restrict your first date to a public place. Meet at a coffee shop, a restaurant, the movies, any place that is well populated so that you’d be protected if the date headed south. By all means, never meet your suitor for the first time at their home, or invite them to yours without knowing them first.
- Drive yourself to and from your first date. If you drive yourself, you have control to leave if your brain starts getting alarm bells about your date (or even, if you just aren’t feeling it). If your date picks you up, you are dependent on them and can only leave when they want. Not to mention, this violates our previous rule regarding not letting your date know where you live. In the worst case scenario, if your date has really terrible intentions, the moment you get in their car, you are entirely at their mercy.
- Tell a friend about your plans. Make sure someone knows where you’re going and with who. It’s not a bad idea to have them check on you at a designated time during the date. If you do not answer, your friend will know where you are (or should be) and can get help. This is also handy if the date really isn’t shaping up well and you just want to make a break for it. You can make your end of the phone conversation sound something to the effect of, “Oh no, your appendix just burst? Okay I’m coming to get you right this second!” and then hit the road.
- Stay sober. Having a drink or two might ease the nerves you inevitably feel when meeting a date for the first time, but it also leads to bad judgement. Your ability to recognize when your circumstances are not safe is entirely dependent on having access to your keen sense of awareness.