Approaching first dates safely

Approaching first dates safely

As the excitement and nerves set in when a first date approaches, it is also vital to ensure personal safety when meeting someone for the first time. 

Dating can be a fun and exciting time, and a roller coaster of emotions and questions,” wrote Allison Riser, director of Survivor Advocacy Services and co-director of Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Education at Oregon State University, in an email. 

The landscape of dating is unique for everyone, whether someone is seeking long-term commitment or casual encounters. Within the spectrum of dating, creating mutual respect and a fun consensual environment can look like many different things. 

Riser offered a few suggestions for precautions one can take when meeting up with someone for the first time. 

  1. Inform a trusted friend: Sharing your whereabouts and details about the person you’re meeting can help ensure that someone knows where you are and can check in on you and your safety.
  2. Choose a public place: Opt for locations with other people around where people are frequently passing through. 
  3. Use your own transportation: Try to avoid relying on your date for transportation. Plan your trip ahead of time, whether using public transit, a driving service or your own car.
  4. Prioritize comfort: Stick to what makes you feel most comfortable and at ease regarding the location, activities or whether or not to have drinks. It is also a good idea to not share any personal information to your date that you are uncomfortable disclosing.
  5. Seek assistance: If you are on your date in a public place, enlist the support of staff at the location if you feel uncomfortable. “Your responsibility is to your own safety and well-being” Riser wrote. “It is okay to end things early and exit the situation to help create safety.”
  6. Trust your gut:“It’s okay to be unsure about wanting to see the person again and to take your time to make that decision,” Riser wrote. 

While ensuring the safety of oneself, it is important to make sure your date feels comfortable and safe. 

“Healthy interactions in a relationship are rooted in consent and respect for the other person,” Riser wrote. 

Riser suggests Initiating discussions with your date beforehand to establish comfort levels and boundaries, considering dietary preferences or sensory sensitivities and approaching your first date with respect.

Throughout the date, maintaining open communication and check-ins can create a space that is respectful of each other’s needs and boundaries.  

“Find folks that you trust to talk through what you are feeling and ultimately, you know you better than anyone else, listen to your instincts and trust your gut,” Riser wrote.

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