Man and woman meeting on city street


Five tips to keep yourself clear of creeps

Penelope James   |   Fri, 2 Sep 2022

As someone who’s been on too many dicey dates to count, I decided it was high time I map out a formal dating safety plan ... one that applies to my online dating life as well as IRL meet-ups. And, since I’m such a swell gal, I figured I’d share the plan publicly in case it’s useful for my fellow Couplers and Vibe readers. 👊

Though I happen to be a cishet woman, I think these tips are relevant to anyone who’s single and mingling. Creeps come in all varieties, so wherever you fall on the human spectrum, take pains to keep safe out there.

Since this is by no means an exhaustive list, feel free to send me tips of your own. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post down the line. Gotta look out for each other, amirite?

Limit the personal information you share with new partners

No matter how or where I meet someone, my first "date safely" rule is to embrace the filter.

It’s way too easy to overshare when an initial convo or first date is going well … playing ping-pong with personal anecdotes is what connection is all about! But just like I wouldn’t reveal my SSN to a stranger, I also won’t share too many biographical details with a potential partner until I’ve had time to size them up.

The good news is that you don’t have to act standoffish to stay safe. The trick is to remain what I call “evasively engaged”: give thoughtful responses that are short on specifics but full of personality.

For example, say you’re on a Couple speed date with someone from your city. Instead of sharing that you work at Maple Street Coffee, you could tell them, “I’m a barista, and eventually I hope to roast my own beans and open a cafe.” And rather than answering the “where do you live?” question with your exact cross-streets, you could reply with generic locations: “I’m in the north part of town now, but who knows where I’ll be in a month – I’m always up for an adventure!”

Also, don’t only filter your conversations, especially when dating online. Your profile info, pics, or videos might include tell-tale clues about where you live, work or hang out … which the most aggressive of creeps will spot in a sec.

Woman looking at cell phone incredulously

DM your match (lots) before meeting in person

Another dating safety habit I’ve embraced applies to people I meet online. Before I’ll give a match my digits or agree to meet them in person, I engage in at least one full week of chatting over the app’s messaging platform. I feel more comfortable when our initial interactions occur in a neutral space, and 5-7 days is typically enough time for me to get a good peek at their personality.

And look, I get it … nobody wants to come off as a buzzkill or seem super paranoid by refusing to take the convo off-platform until an arbitrary date on the calendar, especially when it's often easier to text or FaceTime.

But it’s SO worth doing a brief stint in dating-app purgatory. You’d be surprised how many people can manage only a few days of decent exchanges before flying aaaaall the red flags. Better to spot these flags from far away, and remember: any match that pushes you to move faster than you’d like has at least one they wave proudly. 🚩

Google your dates before you go out

Before you judge me for this one, know that I’m not talking about running a full background check before you agree to date someone new. But I do admit to visiting Ye Olde Temple of Google before getting more intimate with a match, and I encourage you to do the same.

While chances are you won’t find much that’s scathing or celebratory, performing a quick search of your partner’s name is simply part of doing your dating due diligence. At the very least, you'll score some fun intel from their socials.

And since this is a two-way street, I’d recommend Googling yourself occasionally to see what your dates can learn about you. Perhaps your address pops up on the first page of results, or the IG account you thought was private isn’t. Better to know what’s out there and react proactively versus defensively.

Meet new people in public, and let a friend know your location

When I meet someone in-person for the first time, I insist that we do so in a public place and I make sure a pal or family member knows where I’m at. Additionally, if I move to a new locale, I send a quick text to update my whereabouts. (You might even consider sharing your location through a GPS app, but I haven’t gone that route yet myself.)

Obviously, most times location-sharing will be an act of pure paranoia, but what’s there to lose? Just do it and earn yourself some free peace of mind. In the unlikely event that things go south, having someone who knows where ya been? HUGE.

Woman and man clinking glasses

Stay sober (enough) and follow your gut

I love a good cocktail or nice glass of wine, and I'm a sucker for a beer flight. However, I also know that if I have too much hooch too quickly, I’ll completely lose my wits.

About 99% of the time, getting wasted on a date is more likely to leave me sick than unsafe, but since I have zero interest in experiencing either scenario, I consciously monitor how much I’m drinking when out with a new person.

My first-date rule is to have two drinks max or no more than one drink per hour ... whichever option best fits the situation. For me, it's a pace that lets me enjoy a slight buzz while simultaneously remaining aware and in control of my actions. I can pick up on subtleties in my date's behavior, and I remain in touch with my own intuition. (Side note: always, always pay attention to your Spidey-sense, and take a beat when it tells you something’s off.)

If you drink alcohol or partake in some other kind of mind-altering substance, I highly recommend that you identify your own equation for enjoying yourself safely. It’s NEVER your fault should something happen regardless of your sobriety status, but it can’t hurt to have a plan in place in case you get paired with a total pariah.

On that happy note (cheers), I’m off to check my DMs and engage evasively. Here’s to lots of fun, safe dates for us all! 🥂


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