University is a great place to meet new people and potentially start new romances. However, your safety should always come first. Here are some tips for protecting yourself in the world of dating.
We get it, you’ve just moved from your sleepy hometown where you already know every single potential suitor that exists within a 10-mile radius, and you’ve unpacked your life’s belongings in a new home in a brand new city. You’re excited, you’re nervous, you’re single. So the first point of call? Tinder, Hinge or Bumble (you choose your own stomping ground). It’s a brand new sea, with a whole lot of brand new, unknown fish, and you want to get socialising. We’re all for it; university is a time to find out who you are, who your people are, what you really want from life, and what you really don’t. And dating apps are a great way to do all these things and more. But it’s more important to be safe while doing so. No, we’re not talking about using condoms (although you definitely should), but how to ensure you’re not getting yourself in dangerous situations while on your quest to meet a new partner, or two.
Here are five ways to stay safe in the world of Online Dating:
1. Always tell at least one person where you’re going, and who you’re meeting.
No one can deny the excitement that comes from the mystery of when you first start dating, and no one really wants to ruin all that by telling their mates before you’ve even exchanged so much as a friendly hug. But before meeting any stranger (it doesn’t matter if you’re friends on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, they’re still a stranger), telling at least one person where you’re going, who you’re meeting and when you expect to be home is an absolute must.
2. Establish an “Abort Mission” emergency code with a nearby friend.
Trusting your gut is also a superpower that you need to hold onto. If you get a bad vibe, feel uncomfortable, or just don’t fancy it; don’t question it, trust that instinct. Establish with a friend beforehand a pre-made get out cause (“My parking ticket has run out”, “I’m meeting a friend at the cinema and I’m late”) or a codeword that you can text your housemate and they will ‘coincidentally swing by’ the restaurant you’re at and save you from your misery. There’s no shame in calling it a day.
3. Don’t leave your drink unattended.
While some may say this is overkill (and arguably expensive), the alternative is just not worth the risk: Don’t accept drinks from anyone you don’t know - and that includes the Tinder date you just started talking to late last night. If buying all your own drinks is off the table (we’re not judging, we had to try and survive off Student Finance too), then be at the bar when your drink is being poured, and finish off that last swig of G&T before heading to the bathroom. While a spiked drink really is the worst-case scenario, it does happen and is something you need to at least try and prevent.
4. If you go home with someone, Find your Friends is an easy way to update your whereabouts.
If the date happens to go swimmingly and you fancy carrying on the evening back at their place, update your friends on your developments. Don’t avoid doing so because you’re ashamed; own it, and make it known where you’re going. If you don’t really want to ask for your date’s house number and postcode though (we get that, it could be perceived as a bit weird), use the wonders of modern technology and share your location with your loved ones on Find your Friends.
5. ALWAYS CHARGE YOUR PHONE BEFOREHAND.
And on that note, it’s no good having Find your Friends set up or an emergency codeword at your disposal, if your battery is flat. Don’t leave for a date with anything less than 90%, and better yet carry a portable charger.
6. Know that ‘No’ is a card you can play at any given time.
If you take away just one thing from this (but please don’t, all six points are crackers) it is that you can say no. At any point, for absolutely no reason at all, just because you want to. Want a lift home? No. Want to go to another bar? No. Want to meet my friends? No, no and no. Do not ever feel pressured to do something because it’d be impolite or awkward to not. Use the tactics you’ve learnt in this for a more subtle approach. But damn, if you feel like it, push that chair back from the table, stand up, and walk the hell out of there. It’s up to you, but just remember you can say no.
There you have it, six ways to make sure you’re being as safe as you possibly can. Take university in your stride, try new things, challenge what you’ve always thought you should be, but just be careful and mindful.
Have you got any other advice you have that you wish more students knew about? Let us know at @studenthutuk.