Online dating is more popular than ever before. The pandemic has shown us that adults of all ages are happy to meet their dates, flings, and partners online for the first time, and video messaging is now a common way to go on early dates without putting yourself or someone in your life at risk. Even though these are great options when you’re getting to know someone, it’s important to take safety precautions when you’re ready to be in the same physical location for the first time.
When you go to meet your online date, always let someone you trust know where you’re going and with whom. If you have an estimate of when you’ll be home, let them know and follow up with them after the date so they know you’re safe. If you’re not sure if you’ll be going home, that’s okay too — you can take a private moment while your date’s in the bathroom or steps away for a moment to let the person you trust that that’s how you’ll be planning to spend your night. When your date comes back, be sure they know that you’re communicating about your plans with someone.
If your date does something that makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to leave. It’s totally okay to trust your gut on these things — it’s only a first date, and you don’t owe them anything. When it comes to leaving, it’s a good idea to arrive to and from the date with your own transportation, even if that’s public transport. You don’t want to have to rely on someone else to get where you need to be, especially if something time sensitive occurs.
It’s a good idea to meet for the first time in a public space, although that can sometimes be a frustrating and expensive option. If you’re hoping to save money on a casual date, meeting at a park or free museum is a good way to guarantee that others will be around in case you need extra support.If you’re meeting at a bar, you can casually mention to the bartender that you’re on a first date, and they may be willing to keep an eye on you in case things seem odd.
Dating of all kinds can be incredibly nerve wracking, but it’s important to find the balance between over-cautious and careful. If you’re feeling too anxious to meet up in person, perhaps a phone or video date beforehand can be a good next step, or maybe it’s even a sign that this isn’t a match for you. Remember, it’s okay to be selective with who you spend your time with — especially when your safety is involved.