At this point, it's pretty impossible to get regular dates penciled into your calendar without at least a
little help from a dating app or two. Since meeting people online has become pretty standard, it can be easy to go into the situation without thinking twice. When thinking of things to do before a first date, especially when you haven't met the person IRL yet, it never hurts to be a bit cautious, just because you don't know what to expect!
Living in a world where almost any tidbit of info is just a Google search away, it can be super easy to verify information about people. But the downside to meeting someone online is that it can also be much easier for someone to be dishonest and get away with it, as opposed to back in the day when most of one's dates came from within their circle, plus the occasional coffee shop stranger here and there.
As someone who enjoyed my fair share of dates thanks to a handful of different dating apps, I can think back on several first dates that ranged from bad to downright scary. In hindsight, most of the not-so-great situations could have been avoided if I had been a bit more prepared, done my homework, and trusted my gut. Before going on your next date with someone you met online, consider doing these four things first.
An Amateur Background Check
I know there are people who feel like doing extensive online research on a perspective date can taint the experience of "organically getting to know someone," but the truth is, you're meeting a total stranger that might very well turn out to be sketchy. Look them up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and do a quick Google search of their name. It's totally OK to ask for a last name, or even just an Insta handle where you can often find it yourself.
And while you may have to fake surprise when they tell you stuff you already know thanks to your researching skills, that's so much better than ending up on a date with someone that might not be the person they say they are.
Ask Plenty Of Questions
While it can be super tempting to chat with someone for a day and jump at the opportunity to meet up in person, it's never a bad idea to spend a few days having some back-and-forth exchanges. The more you know, the easier it will be to suss out if anything's weird.
Obvi, if they say they were born and raised in the south and you meet up with them and they have no accent,
and they don't have a logical answer as to why, this could be a reason to hold off on going back to their place. Taking it slow to give them some time to prove they have good intentions might sound like mom advice, but again, better to be “paranoid” than in a potentially uncomfortable situation. 03
Have An Excuse Prepared For The Worst Case Scenario
Sometimes it’s not even that the person is clearly acting suspicious. You don't even have to be in danger to feel uncomfortable! Maybe they just lied about something they had no idea was a total deal-breaker for you. This one time, I ended up on a date with a guy that was legitimately five inches shorter then what was on his profile. And even though he tried to acknowledge it in a light-hearted,
gotcha!, kind of way, I certainly wasn’t amused and needed a way out, fast. Thankfully I had an exit story that I had told more times than I'm proud to say, and it rolled off my tongue so easily, I almost believed it myself.
Having a prepared excuse to leave early might seem mean, but in my opinion, you don't need to sit through anything you don't want to. Letting someone know that you’re not into them and don’t want to see them again after a first date is something that is best kept via text, so shoot them a message once the date is over.
I also suggest telling a friend where you're going on your date and what your date's name is. Turn on your location if it makes you feel better! That way, someone always knows where you are in case of an emergency.
Be Extra Sensitive To Anything That Seems Off
Back when I used to think cyberstalking was creepy, I decided to break my own rule and did some pre-date snooping. Something about a comment he made just made me think,
"Hmmmm, that was a little strange." Low and behold, that little voice inside my head that was like, was totally on point. After some heavy research, I came to find out this dude had a warrant out for his arrest! While there’s no need to move through the dating sphere completely paranoid, listening to your intuition is totally valuable if you ask me. "Alert! Alert!"
Before meeting up with someone you met on a dating app, being a bit more cautious than you would normally be is totally fine and definitely doesn't mean you’re being too worrisome. And while the majority of the people online are genuinely just looking to meet someone, being a bit more attentive could increase the odds that your Friday night out is with someone that might end up being a better match for you.
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