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Keeping Your Safety in Mind As You Date

        Health | Dating

Dating can be scary and fun and challenging, but you want it to be that way for all the right reasons — not because you haven't taken reasonable precautions about your own safety. Just as you look both ways before you cross the street, you should be wise enough to look both ways before you venture forth on a date. You'll feel better and safer if you've been sensible.

Tell somebody where you're going
Always let someone you trust know where you're going when you go out — and with whom. Unless you went to kindergarten with your date and every grade since, it makes sense to let someone know where you are, especially these days, when people meet through the personals and blind dates and online chat rooms. Even if you're both safe from each other, what if the car breaks down or there's a storm at the beach or your roller blades are hijacked? Not only is it smart to be safe rather than sorry, you'll feel more relaxed as well.

If your mom or your big brother is likely to grill you about your date for weeks afterward, pick someone else to tell — a friend who gives you the same kind of info. If you don't know a soul, the next best thing is to leave a detailed note of where you are and who you're with posted in an obvious spot in your home or apartment, such as on the refrigerator door. It just makes common sense. If you should stumble into trouble, speed and accuracy are essential.

Particularly if you're a single woman living alone, tell a friend what you're up to. While it may feel like a pinch on your freedom, sharing such information about your dates is a gift you and your single girlfriends can give to each other.

Name, rank, and serial number
During your rundown of phone numbers, pager numbers, and e-mail addresses, ask one simple question: Whereabouts do you live?

Your date-to-be may or may not want to give an exact address — which is okay — but if he or she is reluctant to give any clues, you may want to ask why. While you're at it, make sure you know your date's last name (and how to spell it). If that person hesitates to freely offer any of this information, consider it a red flag because there are precious few reasons why someone would withhold full disclosure:

  • They're married.
  • They live with their mother.
  • They are embarrassed by their neighborhood.
  • They live in a car.
Getting there can be fun
Depending on the part of the country in which you live and your age and economic situation, your date may offer to pick you up in a cab, a limo, a scooter, a wagon, a bus, or not at all. While a car may sound like a good idea, consider other, safer and potentially saner, alternatives.

Meeting there
Meeting there is a good option for several reasons:

  • You are in control of your arrival and departure time. There's no nail biting if your date's late, or frantic rushing around if they're early. Moreover, if the date turns out to be a dud, you're outta there in seconds flat.
  • Realistically, you may not be so comfortable giving a near stranger your address just yet. That's okay. If he or she insists on coming to your house, that's another red flag right there.
  • You don't have to count on your date staying sober when you drive your own car. You do, however, have to make sure you don't drink (unless you've been dropped off by a friend, parent, cab, bus, or so on).
  • Unless you invite your date to follow you home at the end of the evening, the sex question is definitely out of the question.
  • Meeting at the location lends a slightly businesslike air to the date — which can be ideal for a first meeting where you're still checking each other out.