The Essential Guide To Safe And Healthy Dating
The excitement of the first date should be fun, but all too often we hear horror stories about dates going wrong. We can’t let this put us off dating, though. Most dates are safe and fun if a little bit awkward. If you’re planning a date soon, make sure you follow these top tips to ensure you have a safe and healthy experience and all the fun you want.
Talk on the phone first
If you’re meeting someone from an online dating site, make sure you speak to them on the phone before you meet them in real life. You’ll get a much better impression of their personality that way, and you’re more likely to hear if there’s something a bit weird about them.
Do your homework
At the very least you want to know his full name, his job and have a general idea about where he lives. And while you never have to admit it to him, it’s always worth doing a quick Google search of his name too. A quick look at his LinkedIn will tell you that he is being honest, and a Facebook stalk might reveal some mutual friends, who’ll hopefully be able to vouch for him.
Meet in public places
Just in case there is anything sinister about your date, it’s best to meet him in a public place the first couple of times while you get to know him. If he is worth it, he’ll understand that your safety has to come first. Try coffee shops, bars, restaurants, bowling, or even the park if the weather is good. Just make sure there are other people around, and you can leave easily if you want to. It’s a good idea to meet in the morning or at lunch time because you afternoon plans give a more organic and less awkward means of getting away if you’re just not feeling it.
Tell people where you are
Employ a buddy system, so your friend always knows where you are. Make sure you inform them if you move venue during your date, and give them an approximate time that you’ll be getting home. This just means that if anything untoward happens, someone’s always got your back. They could even come out on your first date with you – double dates tend to be less awkward, and it gives your buddy the chance to get to know your date too.
Take the essentials
You’ll want to have spare cash for a taxi, your bank card in case you get lumbered with the bill, and your mobile phone at the very least. It doesn’t hurt to carry mace too, just in case of an emergency. Making sure you’ve got everything you need means you can get away easily if your date starts to go south.
Don’t drink too much
It can be tempting to knock the drinks back to loosen your inhibitions and get over the awkwardness on the first date, but it can also inhibit your ability to read a situation. For the first couple of dates, try to avoid drinking much, or even stick to non-drinking activities. You’ll find that you get to know your date more thoroughly when you’re coherent the whole time too.
Don’t leave food or drink unattended
Some people are just plain horrible. While it’s unlikely you’ll meet anyone with an ulterior motive, it’s always best to be as safe (and suspicious) as you can. Leaving a drink or a meal unsupervised could allow someone to slip drugs into them, which could compromise your safety. Finish your food and drink before heading to the restroom during a meal or in a bar – the risk just isn’t worth it.
Don’t give too much away
Early on in your dates, try not to give too much information away about yourself. For example, let them know the area of town in which you live, but not your street address. They can know your profession, but not your place of employment. It just means that if they turn out to be weird and you cut them off, they have no way to contact you or find you.
If you’re worried, leave
Don’t second guess yourself as a judge of character – if someone seems a bit weird to you, or you’re just not enjoying the evening, you are entirely within your rights to leave. Trust your instincts – if they get over-familiar or inappropriate too quickly, or anything that they say leaves you feeling a bit uncomfortable, remember that you know best. And don’t compromise your safety or happiness for the sake of saving some random guy’s feelings. If you’re worried about just walking out, ask the staff to call you a taxi or call a friend to come and meet you.
If you’re dating online and it does go wrong, heaven forbid, make sure you report his profile to the dating site and give them an outline of your concerns. It means that other women will not have to face the same problems as you, so it’s all about looking out for each other.
Practice safe sex
This should go without saying, but it is all to easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. When you’re at that stage with your date, make sure you’re carrying condoms, as well as him. Don’t let him try to talk you out of safe sex – the risks just aren’t worth it.
Get regular check-ups
Even if you’re super careful, if you’re dating it’s important that you have regular sexual health check-ups, just to be on the safe side. Free std testing is available all over the country, so there’s no excuse not to.
Don’t get too caught up in the end-game, just enjoy the process of dating, getting to know people, and having fun. If you’re too focused on where you’d like to end up, you could miss vital red flags, or just lose out on the enjoyment of it all.
Dating is really fun and doesn’t have to be scary. Just remember to keep your wits about you, your friends on hand, and to take it slowly, and you’ll have a safe and fun time.
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