All the hard work you’ve put in setting up your online dating profile has finally paid off! You’ve made several online connections and, after evaluating profiles, exchanging emails, making occasional cellular phone calls, and sending countless text messages, you’ve narrowed it all down to one person: MysteryDate123. And you’re now ready to finally meet this person offline.
Even though you’ve met in one of the more reputable internet dating sites, you still have to take every precaution when meeting MysteryDate123 for the first time. MysteryDate123 may project a dream-come-true persona online, but may turn out to be a living nightmare in real life. Here are some ways to make sure you are safe when you transition from online dating to dating in person.
Meet at a public place
Even if MysteryDate123 looks like an angel (at least the online photo does), and sounds polite, respectable and well behaved, it is still better that you meet in a public place. Meet in a nice coffee shop in the middle of the city, and ideally find a seat that isn’t secluded or away from the crowd. You can always have a nice dinner in a romantic restaurant later. It’s not appropriate to have first dates, especially online dating first personal dates, in such places.
Go out for coffee, not dinner
And why not dinner, you may ask. Simply put, a coffee date gives you just enough time to find out if you and MysteryDate123 to get along well. If the meeting turns out to be awkward, then you only “wasted” half an hour of your life (an hour tops) over coffee. And if the date turns out to be great, then schedule another coffee date, or extend that date to dinner.
Remember that by going out on a dinner date on your first meeting, you are committing yourself to spending at least 2 hours with MysteryDate123. It would be amazing if you both enjoyed the evening, but think about how uncomfortable it would be if you, or MysteryDate123 (or both) felt that this isn’t working. You’ll be counting the minutes until the evening ends.
Use your own mode of Transport
Even if you think that it’s polite / easier / convenient to pick up MysteryDate123 (or be picked up by MysteryDate123) for your first date, don’t do it. It’s best that you went to your meeting place on your own – either by public transport or your own wheels – even if it’s a bike! This way you don’t have to rely on a total stranger to bring you home. If the place that MysteryDate123 has chosen isn’t readily accessibly by public transport, or is unfamiliar to you, politely ask to meet in a different venue (or have a trusted friend drop you off and pick you up).
Tell someone, in fact, tell everyone!
Well, okay … maybe not everyone but do tell a friend and a family member the details of your date. Tell them who you’re meeting and give some basic information about MysteryDate123 (eg name, place of work, and send a photo – a snapshot of the one posted on the website would be a good start). Tell your friend and family what time you expect to return and organize a predetermined time to check in with them.
Alternatively, you can ask one of your friends to be in the same area you’re supposed to meet MysteryDate123. If things get uncomfortable, you can signal your friend to come and help you. You can also keep the phone number of a friend who lives nearby handy and send a text to ask for help.
If your coffee date goes well and you both find yourselves going out to dinner …
Stick to non-alcoholic drinks
It’s so not cool to show off that you can drink 10 cans of beer in one sitting and still not get sloshed – that’s too much information on a first date with MysteryDate123 who could potentially be the one for you. Alcohol, (too much of it anyway) will impair your judgement and you may inadvertently reveal your address, your ATM pin number, how much you have stashed away in your bank. It may seem corny but order juices or colas and keep your eye on your beverage!
Keep your personal belongings with you
Don’t leave your personal belongings unattended. Not saying that MysteryDate123 is a thief, but then – you don’t really know anything apart from what’s been revealed to you, right? Even if your mobile phone is password protected, and your wallet only contains a few dollars and an ID picture, keep these with you.
Walk Out or Walk Away
Finally, if the date with MysteryDate123 turns pear-shaped, if you feel threatened, intimidated, or feel uncomfortable with the sexual innuendos that keep popping in the conversation, just stand up and walk out or walk away. Don’t worry about how your actions will look in the eyes of others in the room, and don’t feel embarrassed about your behaviour. You should only be thinking about your safety, and what other people will think of you or your actions is inconsquential.
Last one … Promise!
While you’re out with MysteryDate123, be alert and listen carefully to what the other person is saying. It can be hard to pick up on lies, but there are ways many ways to tell if someone is lying. If you feel that MysteryDate123 is trying too hard to impress you by telling stories and fibs, then you know it’s time to move on, and perhaps start dating online again.
The editor of Discovery News Journal, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.