Online Dating from A to Z: HELP!

Welcome to the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. This month I’ll be working my way through the alphabet, one day at a time, on the subject of Online Dating. If you’ve never visited my blog before, I’m happy you’re here! Be sure to check out my previous A to Z Challenge posts and the books that were inspired by them for more alphabetical fun.

H is for HELP!

When online dating goes wrong, it can go really, really wrong. Here’s a link to just one bad example from Canada (TW: sexual assault).

While I aim to share mainly happy, fun stories about the benefits of online dating, it’s also important to be realistic and remember that anyone you’re meeting for the first time is still a stranger – no matter how much you may have Google stalked them beforehand.

So, how do you stay safe when meeting someone for the first time?

For me, the most important thing is to have a plan in place before meeting up with anyone. Here are some of the best ways to make sure your dates go smoothly:

  1. Tell a friend. Most women tend to do this anyway, whether for gossip purposes or simply to watch out for one another, but everyone should make sure they have a buddy (or two!) who knows exactly where you’re going on your date. Even if you’re just meeting for coffee, let someone know where you’ll be, approximately what time you think you’ll be home, and whether or not they should call or text you afterwards.
  2. Bring a wingman or woman. If you’re getting weird vibes, but still want to meet this person, another trick is to bring a wingman or woman to help you out of potentially sticky situations. Whether you prefer to introduce this person directly to your date, have them stationed in another corner of the café for visual observation, or simply have them on speed dial during the meetup is totally up to you. Having a buddy physically on the premises can really help if you’re not sure about your potential date’s intentions, since they’ll be more lkely to pick up on any red flags you’ve been ignoring.
  3. Memorize a fake number. You never have to give your number out to anyone, and you certainly don’t owe a crappy date any more time. But, when cornered, you may find yourself inadvertently giving out your real number. To avoid this fatal misstep (made, thankfully, less onerous by modern cell phones’ BLOCK feature), have a fake number memorized for whenever someone you’re just not that interested in talking to demands your digits. Some popular wrong numbers include the number of your favorite local pizza joint, the Empire Carpet phone number (which is likely stuck in your head for life if you’ve ever lived in the Chicago area), or the Mary Sue Rejection Hotline.
  4. Order a special drink. If you’ve decided to meet at a bar, and your date is being particularly creepy, you can actually call upon your bartender or server for backup. As even TIME Magazine has detailed, most servers have a special code where you can order an “Angel” shot to signal that you need help getting rid of your date. Alternately, you can ask for Angela with the same result.
  5. Know your boundaries. Whether you’ve decided you like your date or not, it’s important to set boundaries with this person as you go. If you ever feel like your boundaries are being pushed, tested, or downright disrespected, walk away and don’t look back. There’s no sense in getting involved with someone who won’t listen to you from the start, and if you are getting a bad feeling about this person, it’s likely for a good reason – even if your conscious mind can’t quite figure it out. Trust your intuition, and always err on the side of caution until you really get to know someone.

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