First dates should be fun and exciting. A time to meet someone who you like and want to know better. But data shows an alarming increase in date rapes due to online dating. How to stay on the safe side? There is a lot of ground to cover before even considering a first date.

Protect Your Personal Information

Dangers of online dating are not limited to the first in-person encounters. Always be mindful of what you share on dating sites, and never disclose personal information. Do not talk about where you live or go to school, don’t give away details of your daily schedule and beware of someone who asks you for financial stuff. You should even be careful of what you share with the apps or platforms. As much as possible, keep your personal details hidden.

Interact a Lot Before a First Date

While those first two days of texting might seem enough to know you found your soulmate, chances are, you need more time. Predators are excellent at first impressions, so take your time and find out more before a first date. Remain attentive to sudden shifts in tone, or excessive insistence to meet before you feel ready. If after a few weeks of interaction, you decide to move forward, it’s a good idea to start with a background check before a date.

Make Sure They are Who They Say

Blurry profile pictures or no pictures at all are red flags. But even with a clear picture, you could be talking to a completely different person. Have a first few telephone calls and when you feel ready, ask for a video chat. Prepare for the video chat by choosing a place where your location can not be guessed. If your potential date keeps postponing the video call or flat out refuse to have one, do not agree to meet in person.

Establish Clear Boundaries

Talk about what you expect and make sure to mention your boundaries before a first date. If, for example, someone insists on getting pictures that make you feel uncomfortable is definitely not a good idea to move forward with a date. Someone who does not respect your boundaries in the first interactions will most likely not respect your boundaries during an in-person meeting.

Be the One to Plan the First Date

A brief first encounter, like meeting for coffee, is the best way to go. Even when you might be safe having dinner, things may get awkward and you may not want to stay for a whole dinner. For the first few dates, let someone else know where you are and limit to public places. Having an exit plan if things go wrong is also advised.

Be Honest and Straightforward

From the very few interactions, let the other person know who you really are. Women are especially prone to agreeing with things they don’t like in order to make a good impression. One of the first things to clarify is your expectations. You may be thinking about a life-long partnership while the other party just wants to have fun. Avoid this by being clear about your dealbreakers, your beliefs, and your values. It is better to have someone dislike you than to deal with a relationship based on lies. One of the great benefits of online dating is that you have more information before a first date, so why waste your time with someone that’s not compatible?
Online dating can be a great experience if you are careful and have open conversations with your potential partners. Never agree to something that makes you feel uncomfortable or at risk, and remain attentive to every detail before a first date.