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Dating Safety Tips

If you’re doing everything you can to meet men and to get married, then no doubt you are going on the occasional (or regular) blind date.  It could be with someone you’ve been set up with through a friend, someone you met at a coffee shop or bar, or someone you’ve met online.  Technically, on a blind date neither of you has ever seen the other person, but with social media and the internet, it’s pretty unlikely that you haven’t at least tracked down a pic.  Either way, you don’t know the guy from a bar of soap, and you’re going out together for a date. 

Unless you’ve been moving in the same friendship or work circles, it’s highly likely that any man you go on a date with at this stage of your life is going to be someone you don’t know.  You’ve probably done the rounds of the men in your circle, and so your only option is to try with guys you don’t know.  That’s ok.  If you’re waiting for the type of guy who can be your friend or colleague for a few months (or years) so you can get to know him, and then ask you out – you’re going to be waiting a long time.  At this stage of the game, you don’t have time to waste waiting for Mr Right to stumble upon you in your work cubicle – it’s not going to happen.  Get out there and get dating! 

No one, and I mean no one, really likes the idea of a blind date.  It’s awkward and potentially terrifying/horrible.  But it’s what you’ve got to do.  And when you do, here are some tips to follow to make sure you don’t become a victim of the various awful things that can (but probably won’t!) happen when you go on a blind date.  This is a sobering post, not a fun one, but vital.  Read on. 

First of all, remember this: YOU DO NOT KNOW THIS PERSON.  Until you can trust that he is who he says he is, that he is a decent person, and has your best interests at heart, you simply can’t give yourself over to him.  It’s not safe.  Follow these guidelines to ensure you get home alive. 

1.     Meet him at a pre-arranged, public location, such as a restaurant or bar.  Don’t give him your home or work address or get him to pick you up.  Even if the date is going well, don’t tell him these details yet.  Wait for a few dates.

2.     Tell a conscientious friend, family member or flatmate that you are going on a blind date, and give them the details: his name and some info about him, the name of the restaurant, the time you’ll meet, and the time you’ll check in with them afterwards.  Ask them to call you or come and find you if you don’t touch base at the pre-arranged time.

3.     Get as much info about the man as possible prior to the date.  He should give you at least his full name, phone number, and some other identifying detail such as where he works, what church he goes to, or where he lives. (If he won’t give you that info, that’s a red flag.  And no, it doesn’t go both ways.  You are not a danger to him and you are not obliged to give him your identifying info.  But he should.)

4.     Try hard to gather at least some insight into whether the man is who he says he is, prior to the date.  Look him up on Google and Facebook.  Search up his work website.  Find him in old university records or church newsletters.  Sure, it feels like you’re a double agent when you do this – but you literally have no evidence that anything he is telling you is true, until you do. 

5.     Ideally, you will be able to track down a mutual acquaintance.  If you can, contact the person to ask if the guy is legit.  You might find this awkward and embarrassing, but it’s actually totally smart and what a normal, sensible girl would do. 

6.     On the date, trust your gut instinct.  If something seems ‘off’ about the man, and you just don’t feel good about it, give yourself permission to cut the date short and leave, or at least don’t agree to a second date.  Here are some lines you could use:

·      ‘I’m sorry; I’m just not feeling well at the moment.  I really appreciate you meeting me, but I’m going to have to go.’  (Do not accept his offer to walk you to your car or take you home.)

·      ‘Look, it’s nice of you to come and meet me, but I don’t feel comfortable about this.  I’m going to go.’

If you say something like this and he gets angry, controlling, manipulative or possessive, you need to stand up for yourself.  Don’t negotiate, just repeat your statement in a firm tone.  ‘I’m not comfortable, and I’m going to go.’  Then stand up and leave. 

If you can sense that the guy is a liar, a legit psycho or feels in any way dangerous, you are allowed to do a runner.  Excuse yourself to the bathroom and make a quick exit.  Or go up to the head waiter or manager and discreetly explain your situation and ask for help.  If your date chases you out and gets angry or starts a sob story, just keep walking into a public area and approach someone for help if you need to.  You do NOT have to be polite to a dangerous man.

You may feel bad about cutting a date short and costing a man money, even if you can tell the man is dangerous, so if you want you can always put a $20 note on the table to cover your share. 

7.     Don’t drink too much.  You need to have your wits about you.  For some of you, this may be one drink.  For others, none.  This is really important.  This man may not be safe.  You need to be alert.

8.     Make sure your phone is charged before the date, and keep it (or your clutch purse) close to you.  Definitely take it with you if you go to the bathroom.  Prior to the date, think about who you will call if you need help, and give them a heads up beforehand.  Try to have a $20 note or some cash you can use if necessary.  And always carry cash or card to use for a taxi or to pay for your parking.

9.     If the man really is a complete stranger (BTW chatting intimately online with someone still doesn’t change that), when you finish the date, even if it went well, don’t let him walk you to your car.  Being near a car with a man is putting yourself in a vulnerable position, particularly if it’s in a dark street or in an underground carpark.  Men are stronger than women and he could push you into the car.  It’s best to just finish the date and wander into the crowd, or go into another shop for a browse or a drink, until he clears off.  Alternatively, you could arrange to have friends actually in the vicinity, who you could meet after the date and help you get home safely. 

10. If you can sense that the ‘public’ area where you met is starting to look deserted, and there’s no one around, particularly at night time, end the date quickly and get out of there.  You need to have other people around!

11. Use your body language to communicate ‘I’m a kind, respectful woman, and I value myself and won’t put up with any funny business’.  Stand up straight, shoulders back, smile, and make direct eye contact.  Although you want to flirt a little bit, your main goal for this first date is to communicate to the man: ‘I’m giving you a chance.  Prove to me who you are.  I’m not committing anything yet.’  Your first blind date is not to make him fall in love with you.  It’s to give him a chance to earn your trust.  He needs to do the work here!

12. Don’t kiss him on the mouth after one date.  I mean, this is up to you really, but…really?  You don’t know this guy from a bar of soap, remember?  You really don’t have any proof at all that anything he has told you is true.  You must communicate to him that you have a high standard for yourself and expect to be treated with respect and dignity.  Don’t communicate to him, ‘I don’t care if your name really is Matty – let’s make out!  I’m a good-time Sally so let’s go for it!’ 

13. Each ensuing date should corroborate more and more of what he has told you is true.  It’s not enough to just be wined and dined with someone in this category.  You must be able to learn if they are who they say they are.  You need to see evidence.  Here’s some easy ways he can show you the truth:

·      take you to a work function and introduce you to some colleagues

·      show you his staff page on his work website (make sure it’s a legit company!)

·      introduce you to his family members (particularly parents)

·      take you to his church and introduce you to his friends

·      show you his uni certificates, drivers licence, passport etc.

·      show you photos of where he grew up, family, etc.

 Obviously you don’t want to ask him outright on the first date, ‘Show me your licence!’  But you do need to be watching and listening closely to see if everything is adding up.  I may sound cynical, but everything he actually says out of his mouth is literally worthless until it’s corroborated with evidence.  So don’t get caught up in the romantic words and lovely sob stories – wait until you see the evidence.

14. Red flags: if you experience any of these, I would take two steps back:

·      He doesn’t want to meet your family and friends (he might say he does and then keep pulling out at the last minute)

·      He’s not that interested in your personal history, family photos, etc.

·      He doesn’t make an effort to come along to your work functions

·      He doesn’t give much personal info when he does meet your friends

·      He sidesteps important personal questions with humour or other distractions (often charm)

·      He doesn’t ever show you where he lives or let you see his room

·      He is very private with his phone and doesn’t let you look at it

·      He glosses over personal history and doesn’t give details

·      He’s all about being ‘in the moment’ and ‘looking towards the future’

·      He doesn’t introduce you to his family

·      He doesn’t introduce you to his friends, or when he does, they don’t seem to be particularly close friends.  Or, the friends look at you with pity and don’t bother to get to know you.  (That means he has a string of girls he parades through his life.)

Why am I so narky about these things?  Because everyone has a history.  Everyone has a name.  Everyone has come from somewhere.  And those truths are what make him who he is.  If he is hiding the truth, you have to ask yourself why.  And if he doesn’t care about your truth and your history, I would suggest he’s only looking for a good time. 

15. Absolutely do not make anything official until you have properly met and spent quality time with his family and friends (or at least that you have discovered some mutual friends who are very trustworthy, and give him the thumbs up). 

16. If he seems overly keen, consider the possibilities.  Is there a chance that he:

·      is just after a good time (easy sex with a stranger or at least someone in a different city – for that matter, why is he dating girls outside of his own city…?)

·      is just after a green card (citizenship in Australia is priceless, and worth anything to some people).  If so, will he dump you after the wedding?

·      is already married?  Maybe he just likes dating on the side, to spice up his life.  Maybe his wife is cold and distant and gives him no sex.  Maybe his wife is sick or an invalid, and can’t love him.  Maybe he likes the excitement and risk of illicit relationships.  Maybe he is looking for a genuine, long-term mistress.

Here’s a tip for the naïve: men lie all the time.  So if you ask a man outright, ‘You’re not just wanting a green card, are you?  Ha ha.’  He will say, ‘Of course not, silly!  You are just too beautiful not to date!  Here, have some more wine.’  Then he will go home and re-strategize, or won’t ever contact you again. 

 17. Remember this: a healthy relationship has nothing to hide.  If you start dating this man and get caught up in the emotions and romance, then realise a few months in that you only ever hang out together, have never seen his workplace, have never met his friends or family, and only went to his church once (and sat up the back and left straight away) – you REALLY need to step waaaaay back and invite some wise counsel into the situation.  Get your mum to lock you in your room for a week if necessary, and take away your phone.  Don’t get caught up with a deceiver. 

A final word.  I’ve done a lot of online dating, and been on a lot of blind dates.  I followed all these rules, most of the time.  When I didn’t, I regretted it.  These guidelines are not weird, silly or over the top.  They are smart and sensible.  There are a lot of men out there who are deceptive, weird, or quite evil – and you just can’t trust a man based on some good online chats and a few nice dinners.  You must have your wits about you and go in with your eyes wide open. 

With that all said, please, go on blind dates.  You will meet some nice guys in doing so – and one of them might be your future husband.  Just be sensible, and trust your gut.  You’ve got this!