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Keeping Safe When Online Dating Moves Offline

September 28, 2018

​In a recent article we talked about the privacy risks of online dating and some ways to protect your identity while looking for love. The risks change when you find a potential sweetheart and the dating moves offline. That’s when you also need to think about physical safety.

​As with social media or any other aspect of online life, people aren’t always who they say they are. Those charming profiles could be fake, hiding potential robbers or other predators. And even if the profiles are legit, potential abusers can come across charming at first. Before you meet face-to-face, consider meeting phone-to-phone to see if you’re as compatible as you seem online.

​If you’re ready to take the next step and date in person, here are eight tips to keep you safe:

  1. Don’t have your date pick you up or vice versa. Provide your own transportation to the date and home.
  2. ​Meet in a public place like a restaurant, coffee shop, or concert where there will be plenty of people around.
  3. Let friends or family know where you’ll be and when you expect to be home. You could even set a check-in time to have a friend call or text to confirm that you’re all right.
  4. ​Pay your own way, so you won’t feel guilty or obligated if the date doesn’t work out.
  5. Have emergency cash in a pocket in the unlikely event that your purse or wallet is stolen.
  6. ​If you drink alcohol, drink sparingly, so you can enjoy your date’s company but, also, so you can be alert and exercise good judgement. Sadly, we also have to be wary of date rape drugs, so always keep an eye on your drink.
  7. Just as in the online phase of your dating, think twice before sharing your place of work, your address, or other information that could be used to follow or stalk you. You can talk about what you do, your nice home, or your interests without getting too specific.
  8. ​If something doesn’t feel right, excuse yourself and leave. You can pre-arrange an urgent text message from a friend, if that makes it easier to exit. Either way, don’t put manners before safety. And if you feel seriously threatened, enlist the help of a security person or call 911 if you need to.

​Most of us know at least one happy couple who met through an online dating site, so don’t let the risks discourage you. A safely handled meet-and-greet might be the start of your own love story.

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