Preparations Before A Date

Ten Preparations Before Dating

Avoiding dating violence begins before a date. Dating is the process of finding someone with mutually beneficial compatibility. An objective of an intimate relationship is to find happiness with a partner that leads to a more joyful life. “Settling” is not truthful compatibility, nor does it provide mutual happiness for either partner. Worse, dating an abusive person can be dangerous and result in sexual assault, long term abuse, and/or stalking when trying to end an abusive relationship.

Education and self-definition can provide recognition of danger to prevent dating violence. There are no absolute rules that conclusively and immediately identify potential date rapists, or prevent involvement in abusive relationships.

As part of Model Mugging’s series about preventing dating violence, the following ten preparations can assist women of all ages. Techniques for how to prevent teenage dating violence may also be applied to women who may have ended a long term relationship, divorced, or widowed. Elderly women have also been victimized by “date” rapists.

These techniques are written from the perspective of female prevention against a male perpetrator of interpersonal violence. However, preventing sexual assault and abuse within homosexual dating situations may apply similarly. Men, too, can apply many of these dating preparations to better avoid getting involved with women who have abusive personalities.

How to Prepare Before Date

1. Develop your self-definition prior to dating.
2. Know your boundaries and limitations prior to dating.
3. Set firm ground rules.
4. Assess your perception of power.
5. Avoid Pity Dates.
6. Let someone else know about your plans and destination.
7. Select a safe meeting location.
8. Devise a contingency plan to get home.
9. Take responsibility for your safety.
10. If you feel uncomfortable do not accept the date.

1. Develop your self-definition prior to dating.
When you have an identified self-definition and recognizable boundaries you can better navigate and avoid being involved with manipulative and abusive individuals. Unfortunately, someone who has been victimized from an abusive relationship and/or date is more likely to acknowledge the worthwhile effort of assessing these precautionary techniques.

Self-definition is the process of establishing tangibly and understandable boundaries. There are several steps to developing a defined definition for dating. This will involve learning your boundaries, setting firm ground rules, and assessing power in a relationship.

Relationships are about the joy of giving and the comfort of receiving. There is a balance and when one side is taking more than giving, there is conflict. Every relationship is different and must be defined by both partners.

Dating often evolves from a sexual dynamic that is often at the forefront of interaction for both participants. Date rapists are sexual predators who focus on the sexual dynamic rather than the relationship. They use dating as social context from which to isolate their victims. Abusive intimate partners use dating as a means of hunting for a victim in order to satisfy specific deficiencies in their personality, which too may involve sexual assault among other forms of victimization.

Though individual emotions and goals constantly change, studying acquaintance rapist and abusive intimate partner behavior patterns helps discern common characteristics of most abusers. Most abusers eventually show their true colors. Working on your self-definition and dating boundaries can better offer protection from abusive personalities.

Your self-definition creates a picture of what you want in a relationship. Your picture is likely to change as you develop life experience and meet different people. When it does change, the change should feel right, safe, and mutually expressed. Avoiding dating violence begins with first recognizing your definition of compatibility.

2.  Know your boundaries and limitations prior to dating.
Write down the characteristics that you prefer in a partner. Writing down your expectations is a powerful exercise, which helps define your preferences and makes them real or more concrete. Without defined expectations, your desires and expectations are likely to become emotionally allusive making you vulnerable. Knowing that no one is perfect, the expectations or descriptions you define can help you recognize the qualities you find attractive and compatible with someone.

Naturally, predators look for and can quickly recognize weakness in others, so acknowledging your own vulnerabilities allows you to better recognize if someone is targeting you for harmful purposes. Separately, list your personal limitations and vulnerabilities. For example of some traits listed in italics may be used to lure you into psychologically into a predators web:

  • Loneliness and a lack self-confidence allows an abusive personality to toy with your emotions like a yo-yo building up your self-doubt only to tear you back down.
  • Trauma survivor, or come from a family involving abusive dynamics creates a simultaneous dislike and comfort in conflict.
  • Abandonment fears, or need for attachment makes it difficult to break off a relationship despite its abusiveness.
  • Have difficulty saying no, or fear of embarrassment allows the predator to sexually victimize or use you.
  • Critical and condescending or negative attitude can push people away from you.
  • Argumentative and need to be right can escalate conflict and abusive tendencies.
  • Prone to depression, or anxiety reduces assertiveness.
  • Aggressive or impatience increases conflict and stress within relationships.
  • Prone to addictions is a road map to all types of self-destructive behaviors while allowing a predator and abusive personality to abuse you.

Introspection as to why you feel these are limitations or vulnerabilities should be assessed. Failure to assess the negative impact of these traits may make you vulnerable to manipulation and intimate partner violence.

If you have low self-esteem, a survivor of trauma and abuse, especially during child hood, it may be good to seek counseling from a qualified therapist. Having someone with whom you can share your feelings and bounce off ideas helps guide better decision-making, especially while dating. Working through your traumatic experiences becomes important before you can realistically provide healthy companionship to others. Navigating it alone can result in emotional distortion, which can be dangerous. If you have not dealt with how traumatic events have affected you can escalate the risk of vulnerability from predators.

The help of counselors or other confidants may point out things that you do not want to hear. You must be open to contrary feedback about your date or issues they may see. You may not like hearing it, but family and friends may recognize your date’s unfavorable characteristics before you do. They may help you avoid making a long-term miserable mistake. Listening can be difficult and emotionally painful.

Distinguishing your personal comfort zone(s) allows you to better assert your boundaries. If your date respects your wishes, it prefigures well for ultimate compatibility. Develop statements to say if a situation makes you feel uncomfortable. Poor or indecisive communication often leads to a path of dating violence when comfort zones are not established. Saying “No”, pushing his hands away, but really desiring him to continue is not good communication.

Identify things that you feel comfortable doing with your date.

  • Do you want to be alone with this person?
  • Do you kiss on the first date?
  • What areas are acceptable for touching?
  • Do sexual activities feel safe?

While on a date, it is natural to be sexually aroused by someone you find very attractive. It is also appropriate to refrain from making love with that person until you are emotionally and physically prepared. It is NOT obligatory for you to acquiesce if your date pressures you for sex; especially if he makes you feel guilty for “rejecting him.” If he loses interest, because you wish to abstain, by abstaining you are probably avoiding future coercion and possible emotional or physical pain.

Your boundaries will change depending upon whom you date, what you do, where you go, and how your feelings evolve. Similarly, neither are relationships static, so altering boundaries within relationships is also normal. Sometimes biological drive conflicts with rational assessment, goals, family responsibilities, financial conditions, or moral values. A decision to engage in sexual activity should be a mutual decision that is communicated with respect and appreciation of one another. It should not be impulsive, based upon physical arousal, fear, hesitation, or apprehension, and especially not coercion or physical force.

3.  Set firm ground rules.
You cannot control others, especially narcissistic, selfish, manipulative, and ruthless people. The establishment of ground rules is meant for you, and not him. Writing down your ground rules helps clarify what is permissible that builds a foundation for self-confidence within your interpersonal relationships and social interactions. Solidifying what is comfortable for you also facilitates quicker recognition when someone infringes upon your ground rules, which are also boundaries. Be alert for signs signaling that someone is violating your ground rules.

  • When you feel uncomfortable, you have a reference point to judge whether you are veering away from your goals, needs, and wants. Listen closely to the answers of your assessment of discomfort. If you find contradiction from your stated list, dig deeper to evaluate whether the contrast is a healthy. Sometimes adjusting established habits and perspective is good, but if you feel you are negatively compromising yourself, stay true to your goals, needs, desires, and boundaries. Periodically review your list of expectations.
  • Make a list of behaviors that you will not tolerate in others. Review the list often. What can you (reasonably) do if another person confronts you with unacceptable behavior? If you are verbally abused, will you walk away? If you are beaten, what are your options? Can you immediately terminate the relationship or are you frightened of retaliation?
  • Do not make quick decisions based solely on emotion. Try waiting three days; especially if potentially the outcome will have significant negative impact on your life. Compose a column of pros and cons, which can create more clarity defining a situation.

4.  Assess your perception of power.
Are you drawn to the challenge of changing your partner? If so, honestly evaluate why you are attracted to the challenge to change or “control” someone. Assess whether you are drawn toward men who are emotionally unavailable, hard to get, married, need help, or “fixing”. Why do you argue or excuse poor behavior as acceptable or believe you can work through it? Is it due to the excitement he represents and the danger involved, or do you believe you can fix the behavior?

Power quests may become physically, mentally, and emotionally harmful. Often, “bad-boy” attractions result in disempowering pain. The allure of the challenge or the “rush” from danger does not necessarily translate into a “powerful connection.” Are you drawn to lack his lack of availability because you are disparate socio-economically, the novelty of a very different culture or religious beliefs, lonely, in need of attention, or find his “fast ways” dangerous and a challenge for how much power you have to influence him?

Assess the humorous proverb, “Women get married, because they think they can change him, men get married because they think she will never change.” Women have immense emotional influence over males’ thoughts, emotions, and actions, but setting out to change someone into the person you want him to be is unhealthy and can have harmful consequences, such as resentment, retaliation and disrespect. If he lacks pro-social goals or aspirations, beware! Your attraction to this type of challenge toward the “bad boy” can become a trap of a potentially abusive personality, which can become a miserable mistake.

5.  Avoid Pity Dates.
Dating someone out of pity, sometimes called a “pity date”, frequently leads to misinterpretation. Your friendliness may be mistaken for mutual attraction or sexual desire that may further perpetuate his potential cognitive distortions. When future dates and expectations are rebuffed, his distorted beliefs may trigger abusive tactics and stalking behaviors.

Do not give your phone number simply because you feel sorry for him, accepting or “friending” him into your social media may create other problems. Be selective. There is nothing wrong with asking for his number and using *67 before dialing keeps your number concealed. Then if you decide not to continue the relationship, it prevents unwanted calls and texts.

6.  Let someone else know about your plans and destination.
Before leaving on a date, let someone know where you are going and your estimated return time. If you revise plans or the arrival time, alert your family or friend.

If you are with friends and do not feel comfortable going to a new location, be vocal about your discomfort, because some of them may also feel uncomfortable. Some might bully or chastise you, hoping that you will change your mind. They may not want to go alone, or may have malicious plans. Hold firm to your feelings and do not concede. If these are true friends, they will honor your decision. If they don’t, consider making new friends. Staying out late and departing from your comfort zone, increases the risk of danger and sexual assault.

7.  Select a safe meeting location.
If you do not know your date very well, it is preferable not to have dates pick you up at your home. It is safer to meet at a public location. If that is not possible, ask someone else to be at your house when he arrives and drops you off, because the presence of others usually deters assault. If your date doesn’t know where you live, it is harder for him to stalk you or to arrive uninvited at inappropriate times.

8.  Devise a contingency plan to get home.
In case the date goes poorly or he suddenly gives you a “creepy” feeling, have a contingency in place. If he is driving ask a trusted friend to be “on call” or a head of time, develop an alternate plan to get home. Having a cell phone is not a contingency plan for safety. The battery may deplete, you may be in an unserviceable area or your phone may be lost, stolen, dropped during the evening, or he takes it from you preventing you from using it.

Avoid relying on having him to provide your ride home. Many women are coerced into sexual activity, because they are dependent upon their date for a ride home.

Some contingency considerations when going on a date or socializing:

  • Arrange for emergency pickup with someone if required to gain distance from your date of if you consume alcohol or other drugs.
  • Before leaving, know your date’s plans and the general area where it is planned. Ensure that you have enough money or credit card for a taxi, subway, Uber Cab or LYFT (separate topics for safety precautions) in case separate transportation is required to get home safely.
  • If both your date and you decide to go somewhere else, drive separately, so, you have a separate and safe method of transportation.
  • Even when going out with female friends or platonic acquaintances, be prepared to leave when you want. Do not worry about waiting until others are ready to take you home. Politely express your feelings, and then deploy your contingency plan for getting home (cab, “on call” friend or subway).
  • Never accept a ride with someone with whom you are uncomfortable or feel “weird” about. Many women have reported leaving a social function with a “friend of a friend” who drove them to an isolated location then raped them before dropping them off.
  • Taking out of town trips complicates backup plans for returning home. Be wary about remaining with him, because a ride home is necessitated. It provides him with leverage to isolate, and then coerce you into sexual activities.

9.  Take responsibility for your safety.
Your safety is ultimately up to you. When engaging in amorous contact, if you do not want to be touched in specific locations, partake in sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. It is important to clearly communicate your boundaries to your partner. For both genders, when emotions are heated, rational behavior and reasonable decisions become clouded and impulsiveness increases.

Never trust a man to control his desires. All men have the potential to rape. However, few actually commit the act. Those who do are constantly seeking new victims, as the assault many women. Sexual predators lack self-restraint, especially during sexual arousal. Abusive individuals have a tendency to displace responsibility for their behavior. They will blame their behavior on victims’ seductiveness, tantalizing teasing, alcohol consumption, suggestive clothing or comments. They will also influence their victims to make excuses for their abhorrent behavior such as: “I shouldn’t have worn that short dress.” “It is my fault …I should have been clearer about saying no.” Self-definition can become empowering and counter destructive excuse making and more assertive countermeasures to stop potential dating violence.

10.  If you feel uncomfortable do not accept the date.
Feeling uncomfortable with someone, but going out to be polite can become dangerous. Trust your intuition. No matter how flattering or persistent, the attention from a potentially abusive partner is not worth the thrill of feeling special and desired. This is a repeated them of survivors of abusive relationships who look back wishing they never accepted the first date. Breaking up may not be the end of the relationship, as survivors may often have to deal with stalker threats. If you do accept a date and then recognize abusive or destructive traits, immediately disengage.

However, politely declining his invitation is not always graciously received. When someone asks you out though you have repeatedly declined, his persistence may eventually wear down your resistance. Many young women do not want to alienate or anger the male, but disregarding your intuition can lead into traumatic results.

Never accept a date simply out of politeness, and especially if pressured:

  • “You think I’m not good enough for you?” (Yes, he is not good enough!)
  • “You won’t go out with me because you’re racist?” (He is the racist!)
  • “You do not understand my religion?” (He does not understand the beliefs of his religion!)
  • “You don’t understand me yet! My culture! What I have been through.” (He doesn’t understand himself.)

You need only tell someone to leave you alone one time. If he does not take “no” for an answer, be firmer in your assertion. If you do give in, an overly persistent person may turn into a stalker when you decide to stop seeing him. So do not worry about hurting his feelings. In those cases, reach out for assistance. There are others who can assist you in discouraging his behavior such as a social circle, school officials, your employer’s human resources, and in some cases police involvement may be necessary.

Don’t interact with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. If you meet someone who has “weird vibes” and you feel uncomfortable, immediately create distance. Trust that your intuition has accurately assessed the situation that has classified him into the “creepy guy” category.

If someone in your work environment presses you to attend noncompulsory social activity or engage in intimacy, your best defense is firm assertiveness. You may need to seek additional help from human resources, others within the company or mutual friends to stop the harassment.

If you are at a bar, concert, club or party and meet someone that makes you feel uncomfortable, immediately terminate the encounter. Use the excuse, “I want to talk to my friend” or assertively tell him, “I want to be left alone”, then walk away. If he doesn’t acknowledge your assertion, go to the bouncer, security guard, manager, or host for help. If those options are not available, attract attention to his inappropriate, harassing behavior by making “a scene.” Raise the volume of your verbal assertion and assertiveness techniques.

If you needed to assert your boundaries take additional precautions at the conclusion of the social function, or when exiting a bar or nightclub. Ask a trusted man or several girlfriends to escort you to the car or wait with you until you can get into a cab. Be alert to someone following you home, which is a separate safety topic.

Do not allow unwanted intrusions into your personal life. Don’t stay in uncomfortable situations. Uncomfortable encounters have a higher likelihood of escalating his expectations perpetuated by his cognitive distortions. There is a righteous reason you are in discomfort. Listen to your intuition.


Preventing dating violence often requires self-confidence. The Model Mugging’s Basic Course develops confidence in women by teaching students how to set personal boundaries and de-escalate situations through positive assertion skills.


Safety Summary for How to Prepare Before Date

1. Develop your self-definition prior to dating.
2. Know your boundaries and limitations prior to dating.
3. Set firm ground rules.
4. Assess your perception of power.
5. Avoid Pity Dates.
6. Let someone else know about your plans and destination.
7. Select a safe meeting location.
8. Devise a contingency plan to get home.
9. Take responsibility for your safety.
10. If you feel uncomfortable do not accept the date.


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