Safe Dating in the Age of Tinder

**Author’s note: the information provided below is in no way intended to victim-blame. Men need to understand boundaries, know that ‘No’ means “NO!” and recognize that they are ultimately responsible for their personal behavior towards the women in their social circles. We all bear personal responsibility for our safety, but no woman asks to be raped. Ever. Not in what they wear. Not in what they say. Not in what they drink. So men, be gentlemanly all the time under all circumstances.

The other day on social media, I came across this interesting approach to getting out of a bad date. It’s not the first time I’ve seen such a graphic; previous iterations that I’d seen centered around getting help at a typical bar. This was the first time I had seen the graphic associated with a mainstream restaurant:

Do you know about the Angel Shot? When your date is going south, ask for your guardian angel.

After placing a call and talking with Madison, a server at our local Hooters restaurant, she confirmed that the “Angel Shot” tactic for getting out of a bad date is in fact known by their bartenders (though they’ve never had to use it before). In fact, the practice is widely known in bartending circles. So, at least from my anecdotal investigation of the validity of this graphic, the Angel Shot is a thing.

Dating in the internet age is a hit or miss affair. While the pool of potential partners does expand widely when using Tinder, Match, or Plenty of Fish, the likelihood of meeting a total creeper or predator also goes way up.

In November 2020, Brittany Correri went on a date with a man she met earlier that day on the dating app Hinge. Later that night, as they were riding in his car, he pulled over and began beating her about the head and torso. Luckily, Correri was able to escape and find help. Other women haven’t been as lucky. Ingrid Lyne was dismembered in her own home by a man she met on a dating app.

For the record, men are not immune from the dangers of online dating. Adam Hilarie and Kevin Bacon (a Michigan man, not the actor) were both killed after their online dates went terribly wrong.

So what can we do to assure that the person we’re meeting for our date doesn’t turn around and become our stalker, rapist, or killer? Read on for some very practical and potentially life-saving ideas that will increase the likelihood that you will safely see a new day after accidentally meeting an online predator.

Personal Information

From the very beginning, it’s important that you maintain a degree of anonymity, even when you are setting up that first meeting. Honestly, the only thing your online date needs to know about you is your name and where the date is happening. Anything more than that coming out of the gate just opens the door for future trouble. Unless you want a stalker or someone who constantly blows up your phone, provide the least amount of information necessary to facilitate finding one another in a public setting.

Prior to going out, let your date know what you’ll be wearing so (s)he can identify you at the meeting location. Wear something that you know will stand out – a bright-colored shirt, a unique hat, a patterned scarf. Also know what your date will be wearing to make identifying one another easier.

The person you are meeting doesn’t need your phone number. That information can be shared later once you determine that your date isn’t a total creeper. A poor soul in Arizona learned the hard way that giving his number to his online date was a bad idea. Ten months and 159,000 texts later, the woman was finally arrested.

Likewise, your new online date doesn’t need your address. The last thing you want is the creeper you ditched in the middle of your date doing random drive-bys and parking in front of your home. It’s also wise to keep your specific place of employment out of the conversation. It’s OK to let your date know you’re a teacher, for example, but telling them the exact school where you work isn’t necessary.

Similarly, your date doesn’t need to know your online ‘address’ beyond the app on which you met. Adding your date on social media before the third or fourth date can give away a bit more personal information than he or she needs to know.

Meeting Up

Since your date doesn’t know where you live, you’re not getting picked up. The safest approach is meeting your date in a very public place and getting to that place on your own. Whether it’s the restaurant where you’ll be dining or a public shopping center, the more people (and light) the better. Show up in a cab, metro, or rideshare. If you drive, park at a short distance from your destination and walk to your meeting place.

Never let yourself be in need of transportation from your date. If you meet in one location and decide to travel to another place, do not become the passenger in your date’s car. When you cede control over your ability to shape the outcome of the trip, you could be in serious danger. You don’t know for certain if that ride is going to end at the movie theater or at some remote location where bad things can possibly happen.

When going from place to place, take a cab or rideshare. The target address is openly known to everyone, and if the ride ends up somewhere that you don’t want to be, you don’t have to get out.

The Date

Smart preparation for your date can assure a happy outcome – no matter how the date goes.
Photo Courtesy of wayhomestudio – http://www.freepik.comWayHomeStudio

First things first. You need to know beforehand what you expect from the date. What is permissible? What is out of bounds? The parameters need to be clear to you before they can be clear to your date. Refuse to allow your date to press beyond the boundaries you have set.

It’s always good practice to let your friends or family know where you will be going on your date. Allowing one close friend to track your phone is another safety precaution you can take. If the date is going well and you decide to deviate from your original plan, let your friends/family know about the change.

There are several safety apps that you can download to your phone to help with keeping you safe on your date. Circleof6, bSafe, and uSafeUS will provided that added layer of security with little effort on your part.

The date should end where it began so you can get yourself home. Again, your date should not be the one to take you home or to your car. Say your good-byes in the same place you said your hellos and go your separate ways. If you want to schedule a second date, do so through your original dating app. Save the personal information sharing for later when a few dates have proven that (s)he is not weird.

Final Thoughts

Communication is key. Before you ever meet, your date should know where you stand as far as limitations and expectations. When everyone knows the rules of the game, it’s easier to have a good time without the awkwardness of mixed signals.

With each date, as you feel more and more comfortable with a person who is becoming less and less of a stranger, you can share slightly more personal information with your partner. The modern information age sometimes makes us apt to open up a little too quickly. Deny that urge as a matter of safety. Instead, trickle the information over time.

For date ideas, check out this list of 9 Safe Date Ideas for Meeting Someone from a Dating App for the First Time.

Online dating has the potential to be dangerous, but if you use common sense and trust your gut, you can come through pretty much any date – bad or good – with ease.

Be safe.

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