Healthy Relationships: Swiping Safely

If you’re one of the 49 million Americans seeking love online, you’ve probably considered the many ways that a first meeting can go wrong. No one wants to end up with a date who looks nothing like their profile picture or at a bar where you can’t even hear yourself think. But have you considered best practices for ensuring you get home safe? All daters can benefit from taking a few concrete steps to keep themselves protected.

  1. Stay private. You’d never share your social security number or bank routing number, but there are likely a few things that come up in casual pre-date conversation that can put you in a vulnerable position. Never share your last name, home address, workplace, or details of your daily schedule until you’ve gotten to know the other person.
  2. Google away. You don’t need to go overboard (using reverse Google image search may be a little much), but a quick online search of their name and any identifying information can help weed out potential risks.
  3. Spill the details. With the stigma of online dating a thing of the past, most daters plan to tell someone when they’re going out with a Tinder or Bumble match. If things go wrong, however, friends who have specific information about your whereabouts could be your saving grace. Tell at least one person a) the exact location of your date, b) what time you expect to be home, and c) the name and contact information of your date.
  4. Meet in public. This has become a golden rule for a reason, but it applies to more than just the first date. Wait until you’ve spent a significant amount of time with the other person before suggesting you “Netflix and chill.”
  5. Make your own way. Just like your parents told you as a kid — don’t get in cars with strangers. Uber, Lyft, public transportation, or a good old-fashioned taxi are great ways to ensure you’re in control.
  6. Consume responsibly. You may have stalked their Facebook and Twitter presence, but the reality is that you do not know the person sitting across from you. Staying sober will help you make wiser game-time decisions. Keep your food and drink in sight at all times and pass on the second round.
  7. Trust your gut. Some of the most dangerous criminals seem charming. That’s not to scare you, but rather to point out that red flags can be subtle. If something feels wrong, listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hurt your date’s feelings by saying you’re uncomfortable and have to leave. If you ever feel unsafe, let the bartender/waiter/barista/manager know as soon as possible.

If you’re already doing the steps listed above, you’re a savvy dater and it’s time to take your safety game up a notch. Consider these additional steps as a way to refine your safety plan.

  1. Carry pepper spray. Chances are you will never have to use it, but it’s an added level of security. Check your state regulations before purchasing pepper spray, and make sure you learn how to properly spray an attacker (YouTube is filled with instructional videos).
  2. Share your location. The Google Maps app allows you to share your real-time location with any contact in your phone. You can decide how long to share this information, and you can change it at any time. It’s not a bad idea to share your location with a few key friends while you’re on a date. Just make sure to keep your charged phone with you at all times.
  3. Get a sideline. The free Sideline app allows you to choose an alternative — but real — phone number that you can share with prospective dates. It will ring through to your cell phone, and you can do all of the typical functions (text, call, voicemail) without having to reveal the phone number you’ve had since you were 14 years old. If your would-be date becomes inappropriate or bothersome, you can cancel the alternative phone line without having to buy a new phone or wait on hold with Verizon.

About the Author: Aviva Ariel-Donges, M.S.

Aviva Ariel-Donges, M.S., is an intern at SRAHEC.  She is currently finishing a master’s in public health and a doctorate in clinical health psychology at the University of Florida.
By |2018-02-07T19:55:02-05:00February 17th, 2018|Categories: Education|Comments Off on Healthy Relationships: Swiping Safely
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