Lapping up all things true crime is my jam. My idea of relaxing is a bubble bath and pamper session whilst listening to a podcast detailing gruesome murder cases. I also can’t get enough of murder mystery novels. However with all that comes (obviously) cripping anxiety when it came to meeting up with complete strangers from dating apps for first dates.
Safety is absolute key and so important when it comes to app dating and so I wanted to write up a list of ways I stayed safe whilst going on first dates, because let’s face it, it is a bit of a weird concept and does put some of us in a vulnerable situation. With these tips and a bit of common sense I think we’ll be in the best position to avoid any bad situations.
1. Safety Alarms
I know this sounds quite dramatic but I think it’s always good to be extra cautious, just in case! My mum used to make me carry around a rape alarm when I was in my early teens but I repurchased one when I became single and first started app dating. They’re super discreet and easy to carry around (mine was disguised as a pink pom pom which I attached to my keys) and will sound a super loud alarm if you pull the cord to draw attention to a situation and alert people that you may be in need of help! They’re also super affordable and so I think it’s worth having just in case – the confidence it gave me even walking home late at night was worth it entirely!
Note: The alarm did actually set itself off on a first date once which was mortifying! It was in the middle of a crowded restuarant and everyone stopped what they were doing and starred whilst I exclaimed “sorry, it’s just my rape alarm, I’m okay” … thankfully my date saw the funny side to it!
2. Share details with friends and family
I got into the habit of screen grabbing my date’s profiles and sending the pictures to my close friends or mum and sister before I went on any first dates, as well as letting them know the venue my date and I had decided on. This is just a little extra precaution in case anything were to happen, which hopefully it wouldn’t.
3. Tracking apps
This again might seem a little excessive, but one I absolutely couldn’t live without now. My family and I use a little app called ‘Life 360’ to keep a track of each other’s location. Not only is this great for peace of mind (e.g. my mum sleeps better knowing I’m home safe and I like knowing that my parents have got to and from work safely each day) but it’s also great for seeing how far they are from meeting you so you can stick the kettle on for example.
This is great for dates as it means my location is always shared with them so they can keep tabs if worried.
I also use this app with my housemates too which is really useful, not only for knowing that they’re safe on dates but also so I know when to avoid walking around the house naked if I see they’re on their way home, haha!
4. Ask for Angela scheme
This tip really depends on the venue that you’re in, but some pubs and bars across the UK are part of the Ask for Angela scheme, with posters stuck on the back of ladies loo doors explaining the concept. If you feel unsafe or uneasy in any way about a situation you’re in at the venue, simply ask for Angela at the bar and the staff will help you find a way to leave discreetly or help you order a taxi out.
This scheme was set up by the Metropolitan police to help prevent and reduce sexual violence and vulnerability and although I haven’t had to use it myself, I think it’s a wonderful idea that should be more popular across venues. I’d love to know if you’ve ever used this as I think it’s such a great idea!
5. Never reveal personal details too soon
Bit of an obvious one, but don’t go sharing too many intimate details too soon. Keep your place of work, surname and the area you live in very vague until you know you can trust that person!
6. Be savvy
Another of my favourite tips and one I think is super important. Simply, if you get a weird vibe or a bad feeling about someone, listen to it! Your gut feeling can be such a good indication and we need to give it more credit and listen to it a little more. If you feel at all off about someone, whether it be over message or in real life, there is no harm in leaving the situation. I personally wish I’d listened to my natural instincts a little more in the past as I think it would have saved me a lot of hurt!
7. Meet in a busy spot
Choosing a popular or busy pub, bar or station to meet outside of is a much better idea than a park/random street/someone’s house, etc! Again, very obvious, but could save you from getting into a pickle, especially if the person who greets who doesn’t resemble their profile.
8. Don’t leave drinks unattended
This can be a hard one on dates but please ladies, try not to leave your drinks unattended whilst you pop to the loo. There are unfortunately some nasty people around who could take advantage and I’d never, ever want that to happen to any of you.
9. Plan your route home
Make sure you have a route home planned incase you get tipsy or save some money so you can get a taxi home safely. Citymapper is a great tool if you live in London to help plan your route home and apps such as Gett taxi can order you a black cab to your location.
10. Get a friend to help!
This is a bit of an old classic move, but if the bar you’re in doesn’t use the ask for Angela scheme, you can always ask a friend to call you at certain points in the evening so you can make an excuse to leave if you want to. It might be a good idea to even have a codeword you can text them if you need to, so they can either pop by to rescue you or call you with an excuse to leave.
I really think this blog post (and video to go along with it) are super important and if this helps at least one person stay safe then I’d be over the moon. I’d love to hear if you have any extra tips below too, please feel free to share them!
What are your top tips for staying safe on dates?