Ten Safety Strategies While Dating
Part 1: Strategies
10 x 10 Rules for Safer Dating
Violent acts perpetrated by people with whom we are familiar occur more frequently than crimes committed by strangers. Women wanting to avoid sexual assault and involvement with an abusive personality will benefit from the following ten safety tips for safer dating.
Ten Proactive Safety Strategies While on a Date
- Be decisive and sincere regarding your sexual comfort level when dating.
- During initial dates meet and remain in public places.
- Watch your date’s reactions for changes in demeanor and inattentiveness.
- Find out more about your date.
- Pay attention to what is happening around you.
- Be cautious his sudden change in plans.
- Break away from an uncomfortable situation.
- Be aware of set ups for sexual assault and exploitation.
- Introduce your date to different friends and family, and ask for their feedback.
- Assess his actions in between dates.
These ten preemptive dating strategies are listed in a likely order of occurrence during courtship. These dating crime prevention tips help prevent date rape and avoid involvement with abusive intimate partners.
Ten Proactive Safety Tips While on a Date
1. Be decisive and sincere regarding your sexual comfort level when dating.
Desirability can be an overwhelmingly powerful distraction from recognizing predatory behaviors. Individuals with abusive personalities also want companionship, but they are too selfish to reciprocate that prevents a mutually healthy relationship. How fast they press for sexual activity is an indicator of how they value spending time with you.
While dating, sexual expression is a natural desire of both partners, but Intimate (sexual) communication may be awkward and actually discussing sex and intimacy can be an uncomfortable topic. Men do not want to be viewed presumptuous and have their amorous advances rejected. Women do not want to appear promiscuous or be disrespected.
Setting forthright boundaries from the beginning may appear abrupt or socially awkward, “Dinner, a movie or dancing is OK, but I don’t want to have sex.” However, honest dialogue clearly establishes and asserts your boundaries, especially with potential sexually aggressive males. Establishing intimate personal boundaries may be more comfortable after kissing, “I want to kiss you but I do not want to have sex.”
Solid self-identity and clear communication will also help you to distinguish sexually aggressive males from date rapists, because date rapists discount assertiveness and disregard personal boundaries. Discussing sexual topics easily transitions into establishment of personal boundary setting and limits of personal and sexual intimacy. Review suggestions for safe dating communication.
Establishing strong boundaries will better preempt sexual threats while dating. Ahead of time, decide your comfort level for sexual activity in your new relationship. Study the Ten Preparations Before Dating to assist in developing more self-confidence that will preclude the need for physical self-defense skills. Acknowledge your initial feelings before and during the date according to your self-definition and personal values. Listen to your intuition and do not succumb to passionate or confusing emotions.
Survivors of prior sexualized trauma are more vulnerable to manipulation tactics by abusive personalities. Self-definition is helpful if you are a survivor of childhood sexual trauma, sexual assault, and or intimate partner violence. Decisiveness in sincere sexual comfort level requires conscious self-awareness.
2. During initial dates meet and remain in public places.
Public places are locations where sex is not socially condoned where a date rapist would have more difficulty claiming sex was consensual such as residences (personal and parties), vehicles, beaches, and parks. Going for a stroll, especially at night, is not staying in a public place. Your date may form expectations of participating in sexual activity if you agree to park in a secluded location, go inside his residence, or invite him into your residence.
If you do not want to become sexually intimate, do not move to an isolated location. Moving to a place of consensual isolation may be interpreted as your desire to engage in sexual activities by those who are sexually aggressive, and especially date rapists.
At the beginning of a relationship, consider dating during daytime. Meet your date at a theater, coffee shop, restaurant, student lounge or mall. Select a location with a restaurant, coffee shop, theater, and other venues in the same parking lot so you will not feel obligated to get in the car with him or make other movements where isolation may occur.
Bars and parties imply an expectation to consume alcohol, which increases the danger of sexual assault. On first dates, it is safer to avoid parties where alcohol is prevalent. For average size women, consuming more than two alcoholic drinks within two hours impairs motor skills and judgment whereby personal safety skills and option selection deteriorate drastically.
Double date with one of your friends allows you to get a second opinion, especially if you date someone you met online. “Blind dates” are safer when you double date. When double dating, get a commitment ahead of time from your friend that she won’t leave you alone with the date unless you communicate your wish using a code or verbal statement. However, double dating has a number of flaws:
Coordinating schedules with other three other people can be more difficult because of last minute cancellations due to work, school, or family obligations.
- Your date may not like the other couple or vice versa.
- Your dating buddy may want to be intimate with their partner and leave you alone.
- The other couple may decide to drink or use drugs, which places you in a compromising position. You may feel more obligated to protect your buddy than she is toward you.
- Your dating buddy may be more impulsive and less safety conscious creating situational conflict that pressures you to enter more vulnerable situations.
- Your dating buddy may pressure you to leave the premises in someone else’s car. Do not feel obligated to get in the car to go to an isolated venue.
3. Watch your date’s reactions.
Watch for nonverbal clues in your date’s demeanor. Does he listen to you? Inattentiveness may indicate that his mind is concentrating on how to isolate you, and then pressure or force you into sexual activities. Become aware of acquaintance rapist behaviors that may appear, which indicates that you should maneuver to a safe distance away from him.
Sensitive topics for discussion include family, politics, religion, prior relationships, and sexuality. Don’t shy away from conversing about these topics as you look for compatibility. Discussing family, religion and politics sheds light on values, work performance, goals, family upbringing, habits, and attitudes. Discussing prior relationships may disclose information about how he views and treats women. Similarly, he is learning whether your beliefs, values, and attitude toward men are compatible with him. These dialogue topics provide opportunities to learn more about personal characteristics and qualities that may match with yours. If it becomes overly argumentative, initially it may seem like a loss, but it is a blessing that saves time and avoids future frustration.
We connect with people with whom we share common beliefs and core values. Synchronizing interpersonal relationships with common values will help avoid many future conflicts in a long term relationship.
4. Find out more about your date.
A date is a mutual interview. How he answers questions are as important as the word themselves. When deciphering levels of safety with the person you are getting to know, pay attention to eye contact and body language. Over time, both good and bad traits, and behaviors become more obvious.
- Are there contradictions in his statements and mismatching or missing information that do not accurately add up?
- Does he make eye contact when he answers questions?
- Does he fidget and appear distracted?
- Does he text or check his phone in the middle of conversation?
- Does he aggressively touch you in inappropriate places?
- Does he continuously interrupt your sentences?
- Does he discount your opinion?
Someone with abusive tendencies might demonstrate the following:
- Consistently breaks social rules.
- Appears knowledgeable about most things, but changes the subject when his knowledge thins, especially regarding his own background and experience.
- Inconsistencies about his history or other stories.
- Seems to have a mysterious history or avoids discussing his past.
- Exaggerates or tells “little lies” to make himself seem grandiose.
- Expects you to pay for things, and asks to borrow your car or money. Many swindlers manipulators claim they have resources and their funds are “tied up.” Their promise of repayment is untruthful or small in amount as token repayments to gain trust to steal more. They will not accept your “no” whether sexual or financial.
- Demonstrates an inordinate amount of jealousy if other men look and especially if they talk to you.
You may be dealing with an abusive personality if he displays most of the above characteristics. He may be setting you up for financial exploitation, emotional and physical mistreatment, sexploitation, future heartbreak or a suffocating, and painful relationship. If you have doubt, investigate and confirm his stories by verifying accuracy through friends, acquaintances or other third party sources. Pay attention to signs pointing to traits of an abusive personality.
5. Pay attention to what is happening around you.
Some situational assessments include:
- Do not allow yourself to be maneuvered into isolated and vulnerable situations. Situational awareness and safety assessments that include:
- Look at who is around you.
- Locate exits and decide how you can quickly reach them.
- Are you being isolated as the only female present, are other women leaving, and without new arrivals?
- How much and what are people drinking?
- Are people using drugs?
- Are people becoming unruly, loud, and aggressive?
- Are intoxicated women seeking male attention that is developing into a disrespectful atmosphere, such as wet T-shirts, striptease dancing, or overt sexualized displays?
Criminally minded individuals at social events may authoritatively influence or bully others into obeying them. Do not rely upon others to keep you safe, even other women. If they do not recognize danger, that cannot offer protection in time. If you feel uncomfortable, immediately leave the venue.
6. Be cautious about his sudden change in plans.
Most rapists engage in some degree of planning before their rapes. One of the most obvious and common signs of sexual predatory dating behavior is a sudden “change in plans” ruse after the date has begun. Do NOT go anywhere with him if he suddenly brings up a reason to go to his home to let the dog out, drop off or pick something up from a friend, give you the book, picture, clothing, or other item that interests you. He may offer assistance for a task at your home. Rapists have developed cognitive distortions, especially about women. He may distort your acceptance as wanting to be alone with him and justify his belief that you want to engage in sexual relations. Beware of a set up to go with him into consensual isolation.
Many acquaintance rapists manipulate travel arrangements so they can be alone with their soon-to-be victim. A trick predators use to lure potential victims into isolation is claiming they have car trouble. Do not offer to drive him home at the end of a date even if he claims that someone else dropped him off. As harsh as it may seem after a nice evening, let him find his own way home. Others will manipulate social situations when in groups to give their victim a ride. Many others will offer to give you a ride if you have been drinking.
7. Break away from an uncomfortable situation.
Trust your intuition. If the “creepy uncomfortable” and unsafe feeling arises, you are better off ending the date sooner than later. You may have to implement your contingency plan for getting home that you made in your pre-dating preparations.
Assert your desire to end the date. If you feel that doing so may escalate the situation, discretely remove yourself from the situation by excusing yourself to use the bathroom and leave through back a back exit for your vehicle or taxi. If you feel ending the date prematurely may not go well, “ditching” him can also create anger and put him in a highly agitated state further fueling his desire to retaliate.
If leaving out a back exit is impractical or you fear he may follow, ask security to escort you to your car or secure a taxi for you. Even if you drove, taking a taxi to leave the area in order to return to your car later provides a cushion of distance and time to disappear without being followed or accosted when you want to avoid having your date find you at your car. As a last resort, call police for safe escort, but their availability due to call volume dictates how long you may need to wait, especially on a weekend evening when calls for service increase. Calling an available trusted friend might be more expedient in some cases, or implementing your contingency plan to get home.
End an uncomfortable situation sooner than later. If a date makes you feel uncomfortable you are better off ending the date quickly. Trust your intuition.
Break away and evasive options:
- State that you need to leave, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet, I feel that we are not a good match.” If he insists on walking you to your car or transit area, affirm, “No thank you.” Watch for anger in his eyes and body language emitting anger and hostile energy. Beware that he may trail you. When concluding a social engagement at a restaurant, party or other event, do not agree to be escorted or get into a vehicle with someone whom you do not feel uncomfortable.
- If you feel asserting your desire to end the date may escalate the situation, you may want to remove yourself discretely from the situation. However “ditching” him may also create anger and a desire to retaliate in some individuals.
- Potential break away or evasion options include going to the bathroom and using a cell phone to call someone for pick up or just disappear back to your vehicle. If leaving out an exit is not practical for fear he may follow, ask for security to escort you to your vehicle or secure a taxi for you. If you did drive, getting in a taxi and leaving the area to return to your car may allow you the distance needed to leave without being followed or accosted at your car. As a last resort, you may call police for safe escort. Depending on their availability due to their volume of calls for service may dictate how long you may need to wait.
- If you state you need to leave and he insists on walking you to your car or the transit area, say, “Thank you for the opportunity to meet you, I feel we are not a right match.” Watch for an angry change in his eyes or energy emitting from his body. When you leave, beware that he may still trail behind you to the bathroom or out of the location.
Many acquaintance rapists manipulate travel arrangements so they can be alone with their soon-to-be victim. Too often victims do not assert their discomfort. Refuse to get in the vehicle or be escorted alone. You may have to implement your contingency plans for getting home that you made in the pre-dating preparations.
8. Be aware of set ups for sexual assault and exploitation.
Eventually you will travel different places with a date. Upon arrival at a new location beware if your date, or one of his friends, insistently presses you for sexual activities or obstructs your exit. For some women, what transpires next is the beginning of psycho-physical-sexual subjugation into sexual trafficking or prostitution.
Assess how your date gets along with others, especially his friends, associates, or and roommates. Associate warning signs may become more prevalent when you have developed a relationship and you do visit his residence.
Separate yourself from a situation if your date has a friend or associate who:
- Sets off the “creepy-guy” alarm inside of you.
- Gives you a lingering look of lust that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Flirts with you in front of your date, but your date shows indifference.
- Makes sexualized comments about your attire or body.
- Makes other lewd, sexual comments.
- Makes crude statements and sexual jokes to get your reaction.
- Expresses innuendos about sexual activities, especially group sex.
- Hands you a drink in an open container of any type of liquid.
- Insists that you drink alcohol, try a new drink, smoke marijuana, or ingest other drugs.
Under the lure of a date, victims are obtained for group sexual activities, sex trafficking or prostitution. A date that procures victims may or may not engage in the assault(s) that is to follow. Although human trafficking is a contemporary term that has recently received significant media attention, procuring women for prostitution under the lure of “entering into a relationship”, has been used by sexual predators for thousands of years.
9. Introduce your date to different friends and family, and ask for their feedback.
Meeting someone only once may not be enough for accurate feedback, because dates usually want to make a good first impression, so initially the “creepy alarm” may not sound. Even abusive personality types can make good first impressions.
On second and subsequent dates, introduce him to your friends. Later, ask for their feedback. Over time, family and friends may notice subtle behavioral characteristics of the abusive personality. Take heed of their opinions. Compare their perspective to your self-definition, which you previously established in pre-date preparations. When asking for others’ opinions, be open to their feedback. Increased emotional investment often leads to the victims’ denial about dates’ or partners’ abusive behavioral tendencies.
If you are going out with someone who is abusive, your friends and family my notice changes in you. Victims of intimate partner violence do not readily admit to changes in their behavior. Admitting to a lapse of sound judgment is not easy. If you receive negative feedback from family or friends, seriously consider terminating the relationship before getting more emotionally invested. Abusive personalities make it difficult to end relationships, because they frequently use guilt, manipulative language and threats to keep their partners emotionally and physically trapped. You may require outside intervention and assistance when ending a relationship with an abusive personality. Many survivors of intimate partner violence admit that their friends and family warned them and advised them to terminate the relationship earlier. Too often victims regrettably and shamefully wish that they had listened to insightful recommendations. How to end a dating relationship is another topic.
When you like someone, it is natural to want one on one time together. If you do not want to have sex, do not go to an isolated location. If you have not defined your boundaries, you are likely to have more awkward situations arise, undesirable sexual activity, or dating violence. Before consenting to be alone, get to know him well.
10. Assess his actions in between dates.
Do not be deceived by someone who is exceptionally charming or overly attentive. Calling once or twice between dates may be appropriate, but sending voice mails every couple of hours or inundating your phone with text messages is inappropriate. Sending a card or flowers following a date may be appropriate, but sending cards every day or large quantities of flowers is inappropriate behavior demonstrate potential obsessional behavior. Obsession is a characteristic of an attachment dysfunction that indicates a propensity for stalking when you want to end the relationship. The more emotional attachment he develops, the higher likelihood he will cultivate stalking behaviors in the future.
Date rapists do not always rape on the first or second date. Some are more patient than others. Without realistic self-defense training, most women freeze in acquaintance and date rape situations.
Graduates of the Model Mugging Self-Defense Basic course develop increased confidence to implement these ten dating strategies and ten dating precautions.
The 10 by 10 rules for safer dating also include the Ten Dont’s for Safe Dating Precautions while on a date.
Dating Safety also involves the following topics:
Safe Dating Communication
Precautions Before a Date
Acquaintance Rapist Behaviors
Abusive Personality Behaviors
Dating Safety – 10 x 10 Rules for Safe Dating
Safety Precautions While on a Date
Crime Prevention Updates
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