Going on a first date with someone you know very little or nothing about can get anyone jittery. One key thing you must consider on any first is dating safety. When you combine that with recent reports of persons killed by psychopaths they met in online dating sites, it becomes glaring that dating in our fast-paced world has a new component: safety.

Consider these 5 ways to stay safe next time you are on a date with someone new.

 It is so easy to project an image of who you wish to be rather than a more accurate picture of who you are as a person on social media. If you can fake a smile for the ‘grams’ despite feeling crappy on the inside, it is safe to at least suspect that the person you are going out on a date with, has also mastered the ‘art of wearing a mask’.

You have more serious issues to worry about, apart from issues like your date’s online dating profile being doctored by his/her friend who is a marketing genius. More serious issues like ‘what if the person i am going out on a date with is wearing a mask that hides a psychopath’. The kind of psychopathic serial killer that would make the joker and batman, cry for their mummies?

What can you do to make sure this date and the next (and the next), is safe for you?
Here are 5 ways to make sure no psychopath has the chance to stick a knife up your throat.

1. Thou shall not meet in a lonely place
It’s your first date! Don’t meet in lonely places. Don’t meet at your date’s apartment. Be mindful of dating safety! Have your first date in a neutral location, preferably one that is not close to either of your places of residence. If you are a girl, a guy might want to insist on having a date that’s close to his place of residence. Insist on a neutral location.

The next thing you want to do at this stage is to research the location you have both agreed on. Let’s assume that you both agreed to meet in a restaurant. You would want to research the road networks around the meeting spot. Where are the quickest exit routes located at? In the advent of a dangerous situation, which route provides the easiest escape route to a pre-determined place of safety (e.g a police station)? Which routes have less traffic around the time you are having your date? You have to know the answers to these questions.

2. Thou shall have a safety accountability partner
After you have agreed on a mutually beneficial neutral location, it is now time to tell someone you trust about where and when you will be meeting your date.  This person should preferably be someone that’s part of your inner circle. Person(s)  who can detect subtle changes in your tone of speech or your mood and correctly interpret what such changes could mean.

For instance, my closest friends know me extremely well. If there is a rumor that i did something wrong and i am absent, they can tell whether the rumor is true. If the rumor is true, they can tell what could have been the motivation behind my actions. You need to notify such persons about your first date, its location and the time of the date. If you don’t have friends as observant and caring as mine (winks), still tell someone about your date.

Create short word codes that are understood by both you and your sidekick. There should be a code for ‘danger, call the police’, or ‘danger come get me out of here asap’. There should also be a code for ‘i feel safe, date is going smoothly’. There should also be one for ‘sudden change in meeting place’it is also very important that the friend you chose to check up on you, is not going to be busy during the time of the date, in case of any emergency.

If sudden changes occur during your first date, changes like a change in location, your accountability friend must be notified. I usually do this by excusing myself and going to the bathroom. Think dating safety everytime.

Alternatively, you can arrange to have your safety accountability partner call you at certain predetermined times. Even safety comes first before smooching (and sex) in the dictionary.

3. Thou shall think like a navy seal
At this stage, you want to look at your first date through the eyes of navy seal. You will imagine yourself to be a master chief, digging up hidden information about your prospective date. You are dealing with safety here so be objective. Don’t allow sentiments to becloud your judgment, especially if you come across any information or hints that gives you a gut check. If you have such gut checks, investigate it.

In case you suck at unleashing your inner Sherlock Holmes, you can ask your friend to join you in playing good cop-bad cop. Alternatively, you could hire a company that is more capable in investigating people, for some bucks.

Dating safety: meeting outside

4. One is not a number
Always have predetermined alternatives! Just thinking a little more about alternatives can be the difference between a first date gone terribly wrong and a safe first date. For example, if the first date doesn’t go as planned, what is your plan for leaving?  I am not asking you to hurt someone’s feelings, but where the occasion demands it, do you have a predetermined script for leaving that is smooth and not brash?

Some of the tricks you can pull out in order to execute leaving smoothly from your date include coming a little earlier than usual, so you could ask the waiter to keep an eye on you, just in case you want to leave quietly. You can arrange some bodily signs with the waiter that would serve as the signal for the waiter to assist you to slip out unnoticed.

Another trick is to set an alarm, with your ring tone serving as the alarm tone. When the alarm rings, you could simply tell your date that you just got a phone call, notifying you of an emergency you need to attend to. Having a worried look on your face and leaving in a hurry will complete your heist. 

5. You don’t owe your first date anything
If steps 1 to 4 fails, always remember that you can at any point during the date decide that you want to leave. It’s just a first date. There are no commitments yet. Even when there are commitments, you always have the right to act in ways that honor your sense of safety.
It is your right. It doesn’t mater why you want to leave. It could be that you are the problem; you are feeling off. It might also be that your date IS the problem; he has no sense of pacing and timing a date and you are feeling pressured. You can just grab your stuff and leave.  Always remember the two words: dating safety. You really do not have a reason to leave.

If you decide to leave because you don’t feel safe with your date, don’t allow your date to take you home. End the date in an open place and politely asked not to be escorted.

When it comes to dates, its always safety first. It’s also nice to note that putting this level of thought into your first date can go a long way to making you feel relaxed during the date.

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