Meeting people in person that you met online can be a fun and exciting way to make new friends and connections. 25 years ago I met a girl online. We met up at the local mall, got to know each other, started dating, and got married not too long after. Currently, we are still together. In retrospect, from a safety standpoint, our meeting probably broke a couple of “security rules”. But in this particular case, there were no ill intentions, just an innocent meet-up. I do not have any specific data as to the percentage of encounters that end badly compared to happily ever afters, but certain safety precautions should be taken every time an event like this occurs to protect yourself from potential harm.
Here are some tips for staying safe when meeting people in person that you met online:
- Plan your meeting in a public place. This could be a coffee shop, restaurant, or park. This will help to ensure that you are not in a secluded area where you could be easily attacked.
- Tell someone where you are going and who you are meeting. This could be a friend, family member, or coworker.
- Let your date know that you have told someone where you are going and who you are meeting.
- Bring a friend or family member with you. This is especially a good idea if you are meeting someone for the first time. They don’t have to sit with you, just close enough to keep an eye out.
- Bring your phone with you and keep it charged. This way, you can call for help if you need to.
- Trust your gut instinct, If you feel unsafe, leave. If you feel uncomfortable with someone, don’t be afraid to leave. Don’t feel obligated to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable.
- Don’t give out your personal information. This includes your address, phone number, or social media accounts.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to who is around you and what is going on.
- Carry a personal alarm or pepper spray. These can be helpful deterrents if you feel threatened.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. This can impair your judgment and make you more vulnerable to attack. Do not finish a drink that you left unattended.
- End the date early if you feel uncomfortable. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
- Go home with a friend or family member. Don’t walk home alone, especially at night.
- If you are attacked, scream and yell for help. This will attract attention and hopefully, someone will come to your rescue.
- If you can escape, go to a safe place and call the police immediately.
It is important to remember that there is no such thing as 100% safety. However, by following these tips, you can help to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of crime.
Online predators are often very good at what they do. They may be charming, manipulative, and even seem like the perfect partner. However, it is important to remember that you don’t really know who you are talking to until you meet them in person. So, by taking some simple safety precautions, you can help to protect yourself from becoming a victim of online predators.
As always, be safe and be prepared.