Picture this: You’ve been swiping left and right on a dating app, and you might have found your perfect match. You’ve been safely messaging back and forth, and you’re ready to meet in person. It’s exciting. It’s nerve-wracking. It can also be unsafe—after all, you did meet this person on an online dating app.
Meeting someone for a first date should be a fun experience, but you also want to be safe and protect yourself. Follow these online dating safety tips to keep yourself safe the next time you meet a potential partner from a dating app in real life.
#1. Meet at the restaurant, bar, or coffee shop
When you're getting to know someone or meeting for the first time, it’s safer to keep your personal information, like where you live, private. While it may seem romantic if your date offers to pick you up or call you an Uber home, it can leave you vulnerable to an unsafe situation. The best practice is to meet at your public place of choice and take yourself home at the end of the night.
#2. Set a time limit
In other words, choose to meet up with your date before another activity you already have planned. For example, if you’re going to dinner with friends on a Saturday night, meet your date an hour beforehand for drinks. The world of online dating almost always includes a few bad dates and having somewhere to be afterwards gives you an easy way to leave if you’re not having a good time or feel unsafe.
#3. Carry a personal safety device
While it’s always a good idea to carry a personal safety device like a pepper spray, personal alarm, or stun gun for an added layer of protection, it’s definitely a good idea to take one with you on a first date. It will make you feel more empowered and help keep you safe if a threatening situation arises.
SABRE’s Mighty Discreet and Lipstick pepper sprays are small enough to fit in a purse or clutch, and SMART Pepper Spray uses geo-tracking technology in the SABRE Personal Safety App to alert your trusted contacts if it is sprayed.
#4. Use the bartender or waiter to your advantage
If you think you may have found yourself in an unsafe situation, you can use the people around you for assistance. Excuse yourself and discreetly find an employee to let them know that you might need help getting out of the situation. Ask them to come back and visit your table, keep an eye out, or if needed, they can call the police.
#5. Be mindful of your drinking habits
Having a drink can help calm your nerves on a first date with an online match. If you choose to have a drink (or two), keep it close, or better yet, order it at the bar yourself. This allows you to watch as the drink is made and make sure it’s not spiked. You can also opt for a drink in a bottle or can instead of a glass. Since the top of a bottle or can is smaller, it’s harder to sneak substances into them.
#6. Trust Your Gut
Your intuition has gotten you this far, and it's pretty good at letting you know if something feels off. Trust it! Don’t hesitate to leave if something doesn’t feel right and remember that “no” is a complete sentence.
If you haven’t matched with a potential partner that you want to meet in real life, there are still ways you can be safe on dating apps. Check out these tips to keep in mind when you’re still swiping left and right.