CLEVELAND, Ohio – I do all my best shopping online – shoes, purses, my puppy and even my amazing boyfriend.
I met my boyfriend on Bumble and my ex on eharmony, so I’m a fan of online dating. It’s convenient and makes it easier to get to know someone before actually meeting. But it does come with a whole slew of issues and concerns. Ghosting. Catfishing. Murder.
Which is why I devised a list of safety precautions for each and every Bumble date I went on.
What’s it like for women to live with fear of being attacked
Guys can be super creepy and aggressive online, making crude remarks and sending unsolicited penis pictures. And when you do think you have finally found a decent guy, you have to worry about safety when meeting up because, after all, he’s a stranger.
He could be like this guy, accused of murder and rape after using dating websites to find victims in California and New York, police said. Or maybe this guy, accused of smothering a woman he met on Plenty of Fish, and trying to burn down the house. More than 50 crimes in Denver in 2018 were linked to online dating.
When I started online dating, I got bombarded by questions from my family. Isn’t it weird you met online? How do you know it’s safe? Why would you meet a stranger? What if he’s a murderer?
Sure, online dating may seem dubious. But it’s normal now. About 40 million Americans use online dating sites, according to eharmony.
It’s not any different than if I met a guy at a bar or grocery store. He’s still a stranger, and I’m still a short girl who probably couldn’t defend herself. So I did something about it. I took Krav Maga and kickboxing to learn self defense.
Before I met my boyfriend in person, I circled the parking lot to make sure he looked the same as his profile picture. (He totally caught me doing this.)
And I followed this safety list for every date.
- Don’t give out personal information (work place, address, maybe even last name)
- Have your own transportation to and from the date
- Google him AND yourself (to see what information of yours is public)
- Meet in public
- Meet in daylight
- Have a friend do a background check/ social media sweep
- Tell at least three people the date location and date’s name
- Send those people the date’s picture
- Have a “safe word” you can text friends if you need to leave
- Have friends check in after the date
I recently learned my little checklist is actually pretty standard among my millennial friends and coworkers. We all adhere to similar “rules” in an effort to feel safer.
Experts echo the advice, and give a few tips of their own: Talk on the phone before you meet in person, and ask hard questions. Limit alcohol consumption, so you can think clearly. Check in with a friend if you go to a second location. Choose an activity in a crowded spot (not, for example, hiking). Go home alone.
Googling is not only allowed, it’s smart.
Here’s why we need to be cautious.
My friend met a guy on Tinder. They talked for about two weeks before she decided it was time to officially meet. She said the date was great and he was super cute. She seemed so excited and happy.
She was planning on seeing him again the next night for drinks. But that day after work she opened her mail and saw one of those sex-offender post cards, warning that a registered sex offender had moved nearby. The photo on the card was of her “super cute” Tinder date. Only it had a different name and age.
She texted him to ask about it and never heard back.
This experience didn’t deter her from online dating but it did change how she went about it.
The song below went viral for its eerily relatable lyrics.