Getting back into dating can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t done it for a while. But keep in mind that many people go through dry spells now and again. As you’re getting back into dating, it’s important to make sure you’re being as safe as possible. So when you’re dipping your toes back into the dating pool, here are five safety tips to keep in mind.
1. Be Prepared for Anything
Even if you just scheduled a coffee to get to know one another, you never know where a date could end up going. If your date heats up faster than expected, you may move beyond getting-to-know-you questions and ask, “your place or mine?” A hookup can be fun and exciting, but those plans can quickly be derailed without necessary protection.
If you’re getting back out there and you plan on being intimate, it’s important to have contraceptives on hand. This could include buying condoms or starting birth control. It’s important to remember that while birth control pills, IUDs, the shot, or ring can help prevent pregnancy, they don’t combat STIs. With a new partner, it’s important to be safe. You might consider using a birth control method and condoms.
2. Stay On Your Toes
Dating can be an inherently risky activity. Even if you meet someone in person and have a good feeling about them, you never really know who they are. Learning who someone is takes time, experience, and trust. The inherent uncertainty of dating is only amplified when meeting someone online. Most people are well-intentioned, but just in case the person you’re meeting is a nefarious actor, it’s important to take precautions.
On your first date with someone, always make sure you meet up in a public place. Let a trusted contact like a friend or family member know where you’re meeting your date. Give them a time that if you don’t text or call by, they start making calls just in case. Some dating apps also have video chat features that you can use to connect with someone ahead of meeting them in person. And, if you ever have a bad feeling, trust your gut. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
3. Prepare Your Exit Strategy
Hopefully, all your dates are smooth, fine, and dandy. You’ve come prepared, you’ve met in person before and video chatted ahead of time, and you’re feeling good. But over the course of the night, your date makes a couple of off-color comments and the mood starts to change. After a while, for one reason or another, you’re just not feeling it anymore.
Prepare an exit strategy ahead of time on the off-chance that your date starts heading south. Ask a trusted friend or family member to call you if you text them a codeword. You can answer their call and have to leave for whatever fabricated emergency has come up. Or, if you’re feeling bold, straight up tell the person you’re not comfortable continuing as is. You don’t need to feel guilty about leaving a date early — you have no obligation to do anything with anyone for any reason.
4. Moderate Your Drinking
A common pitfall when dating is drinking too much. This can especially be the case if you haven’t been out drinking in a while. Your tolerance wanes over time, and you might not be able to drink as much as you used to. People often use alcohol to take the edge off social interaction and give themselves a boost in confidence. But when you’re vibing and schmoozing with someone, it’s easy to get lost in the drinks.
You don’t have to forgo alcohol entirely. But never let someone pressure you into drinking more than you’re comfortable with. Your liver metabolizes alcohol at a rate of about one drink per hour. So don’t have more than that if you want to keep your wits about you. Drink slow and enjoy your time — if the person is a good match, then they’ll enjoy being with you sober too.
5. Have Your Own Transportation
One way you can end up stuck with an unpleasant character is by letting them pick you up for a date. If they’re responsible for getting you to and from the date, you’re essentially putting yourself in their hands. It’s a big risk to take and one that you can likely avoid by planning ahead.
Firstly, pick a location you’re familiar with and know the route to and from. That way you’ll know exactly how to get there and back without help from anyone else. If you’re heading to a new spot for the first time, plan your route using a maps application to see if you can get there on your own. If you live in a rural area and don’t have a car, ask to borrow a friend’s or see if they can drive you. If you’re in an area where it’s available, Lyft or Uber can be a lifesaver.
Sink or Swim
Meeting up with a more or less complete stranger is an inherently risky proposition. When you describe it objectively, it seems odd that anyone would want to engage in such behavior. But, of course, despite their inherent risks, dates can be incredibly fun and may lead to finding love. No matter what you’re looking for as you get back into the dating scene, it’s important to prepare appropriately ahead of time. Make sure to dip your toe in the pool before you dive in head-first.
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