Ladies, how many of you out there push back meeting that special someone you’ve met online because you’re afraid for your safety? Asking yourself questions like:
What if he’s not who he says he is?
What if I think he’s dangerous?
If he makes me uncomfortable, what do I do?
How safe is meeting in a public place, really?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve even set up precautionary measures: Texting your friend the location of your date. Asking her to call you 2 hours in and having a code phrase for “get me out of here”. Checking in with her later to say you’re okay. Or sneaking away to the bathroom to send an SOS text message.
Like first dates aren’t stressful enough!! With 53% of Americans lying on their online dating profiles (that’s right…53%!!!) you just never really know what or who to expect.
Ever had to sit through a bad date trying to hold that fake smile so you don’t set off the creeper sitting across from you?
And now that our “emergency phone call” tactic for leaving a date early has been outed (thanks Rom-Coms), whenever I pull my phone out, my date will always joke about what I’m telling my friend:
“Are you checking in to let them know I’m not a creep?”
“What? You’re not having fun? Trying to figure out a way to leave?
Yeah, that totally isn’t uncomfortable at all…definitely makes the rest of the night super fun.
Not Just Another Online Dating Horror Story
In the UK, crimes linked to dating apps increased seven-fold in 2016 with over 400 offenses being reported, primarily of violent and sexual crimes.
Government agencies, like the FBI, are warning the 40 million Americans using online dating sites and apps to beware of criminals, even going as far to suggest that if someone professes instant feelings of love, that it could be a sign that they are a scam artist.
So, now you can’t even worry about just the normal first date stresses. You have to make sure that you’re practicing safe online dating.
The National Crime Prevention Council has a step-by-step guide for utilizing online dating services safely, which includes telling users when they meet in person for the first time to “keep your cell phone on and with you at all times”.
Even The Match Group, which includes Match.com and Tinder, understands the potential dangers and has an entire webpage dedicated to tips for online and offline dating safety. In addition, they work closely with The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and its STOP.THINK.CONNECT. campaign to ensure their users are educated on how to stay safe.
Businesses are now starting to understand the importance of dating safety and are taking proactive steps.
Recently, I went to a bar and in the women’s restroom, I saw the following sign:
ARE YOU ON A DATE THAT ISN’T GOING WELL?
Is your Tinder or Plenty of Fish date not who they said they were on their profile?
Do you feel unsafe, or even just a bit weird?
We’re here to help. Just go to the bar and order an “Angel Shot”:
Neat: Your bartender will escort you to your vehicle.
With Ice: Your bartender will call an Uber or Lyft for you.
With Lime: Your bartender will call the police.
We’ll handle things discreetly, and without a lot of fuss (we’ve been there, and we want you to know that you’re in good hands).
These establishments understand that meeting someone publicly only ensures initial safety, but that sometimes, extra steps need to be taken to get you out of an unsafe situation.
So, at this point, you’re thinking…well, I guess I’m never going to date online again. And the truth is, although it can be stressful and scary, as long as you have the right tools to keep you safe, online dating is totally doable.
Wearable safety devices, like tinySOS, have really made a big entrance into the safety market for women. The tinySOS system is composed of a small discreet button and a free smartphone app. Together, they can send your location and alerts to your friends and family. Also, this system is unique because it even gives you the option to call 911 by simply clicking the button.
Adding tinySOS into your online dating safety regimen gives you an extra layer of easily accessible security.
Right now, I use tinySOS to tell my friends where I’m going on my date; I let them know that I’m meeting someone and, when I get to the designated meeting place, I click my button twice so they know where I am. It’s so much faster than saying, “I’m meeting him at this bar, whose address is 123 Main St.”
Once I meet my date, if he is who he says he is, I feel comfortable and want to continue the date, I click my button twice again and my friend now knows that all is good. If I’m a bit unsure, I send a precautionary “help” message by clicking my button 3 times. This is to give her the heads up that I might need help later on.
And, depending on the situation, we’ve got more detailed plans in place for getting me out the heck outta there!!
Having this simple way of calling for help has made online dating so much easier! tinySOS gives me peace of mind so that I can go ahead and be nervous about all of the other normal first date things!! I click for safe dating!!