Online dating can be a whole new world, and it’s important to put your own safety at the forefront of your love life.
A woman has told gardai that she thought she was going to die, after she was abducted and raped by a man she met on dating app Tinder.
The shocking ordeal happened to the woman, who is in her 30s, last Thursday after the pair had been chatting online for a number of days.
As investigations into the incident continue, it’s important to remember to put your safety first in the dating world so here are some tips for that all important first encounter to make sure that danger doesn’t come your way.
1. Meeting place
Safety is paramount – ensure that you meet your date in a public place.
Rena Maycock-Harrington, Director of Intro Matchmaking said: “Never go to someone’s house in the interests of safety.
“A restaurant or cafe is a great option for a first date – it’s public and if it doesn’t go so well or you get a bad feeling, a cappuccino meeting can be a short one or go on for hours if you hit it off.”
Don’t get collected from your own house – arrange your own separate transport to and from the date.
Letting a friend or family member know where you are is no harm and then dropping that into the conversation with your date casually will reinforce the fact.
Rena says: “It may seem over the top but you never know and you are meeting someone for the first time and someone you don’t know that well, if at all.”
And most importantly, don’t go over board on alcohol.
Ms Maycock-Harrington warns: “Keep your drink and personal belongings within sight at all times, and if you have a mobile phone, always take it with you. Most mobiles can make emergency calls even when locked, or out of credit.”
Long-distance meet-ups can be another concern – you might think you’ve met your soulmate online but be careful when travelling.
Always stay in a hotel or stay at home.
Rena said: “Under no circumstances should you stay with your date and don’t allow a person you’re meeting for the first time to collect you – opt for taxis instead and don’t let on your hotel destination until you know the person a little better.”
5. Take it slow
Especially with meeting someone online, they can easily build up an online persona that is far removed from their real self.
Rena’s advice is: “Don’t rush your date into going on another date – wait for him or her to suggest it or if you think the signals are there, then suggest a date without being pushy.”
6. Trust your instincts
If you have a funny feeling about someone, do not pursue the possibility of a relationship.
Be mindful of your own common sense and go with it.
Rena suggests going with your gut: “Even if they appear to be the nicest person in the world, if they ask you for money, warning signals should ring.
“Watch out for scams – if someone tells you they love you on a first date, be wary. If you suspect dangerous behaviour, walk away from the situation.” If you’re being asked to foot the bill on a few dates, be wary.
7. Do your research
If something is unsettling you, it’s easy to do a quick background check by googling your date or searching them on Facebook.
Rena says: “If your relationship seems to be solely based on emails, text messages and phone calls, consider ceasing contact and focusing on other potential matches instead.
“Be wary if your date doesn’t want to show you their home and only sees you when they’re ‘up’ for the weekend – they are likely married/attached. Once a relationship has taken off you should be worried if he’s out with your friends but seems to have none himself…”