How to stay safe when meeting up in real life

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Regardless of how much of a rapport you’ve built up online, your first meeting should take place somewhere public

The internet is a fabulous resource for finding people to date, but it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when chatting to someone online, and forget that this person is a total stranger. Whilst the vast majority of people you talk to are who they say they are and are looking for a genuine connection, there may be some who aren’t. Follow these few simple steps to keep yourself safe.

1. Meet in a public place at first

Regardless of how much of a rapport you’ve built up online, your first meeting should take place somewhere public like a cafe or bar. Never agree to go to a stranger’s house for dinner and never agree to being picked up from your home, either in a car or on foot.

2. Consider a day date

Dates don’t have to happen in the evening, so consider meeting for a coffee or lunch rather than after work drinks. This presents you with the opportunity to tell them you plans later in the day, meaning you have the perfect excuse for a quick getaway if necessary.

3. Be careful with alcohol

A drink or two will help if you’re feeling nervous, but too many could leave you in a vulnerable position. Be very aware of how much you’re drinking and stop if you’re starting to feel out of control. Warning bells should ring if you feel your date is pressuring you into drinking too much, so don’t be afraid to swiftly end the date and call a taxi.

4. Do your research

Pretty much everyone has some sort of online presence now, so have a look at social media and find out a bit more about them. If you see anything you don’t like or that concerns you, it isn’t too late to bail.

5. Tell a friend what you’re doing

Make sure someone knows what you’re doing, where you’re meeting and any details you know about your date. It’s sensible to check in with them once or twice during the date, especially if you change venues. You don’t need to make a big thing of it - it’s easy to send a quick text when your date nips to the loo - but it will make your dating experience much safer.

6. Have an exit strategy

If your date isn’t going well, it’s good to have a pre-planned reason for leaving. The best way to do this is keep your first date purposefully short: agree to a coffee rather than a sit down lunch, or a quick drink rather than dinner. Telling your date before you meet that you have plans later makes it easy for you to leave, and if the date goes well you can make plans to meet up again soon. However, if you’re not feeling good about the date you have every right to politely but firmly tell them, and leave with no excuses.

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