Dating is meant to be fun. However, especially in today's world of online dating apps, it can also open you up to new risks and dangers.
Research shows that the lifetime prevalence of date rape (or acquaintance rape) ranges from 13% to 27% of college-age women and 20% to 68% of adolescents. Another report notes that one in four women in the US has been assaulted or raped with the assistance of a date rape drug.
This isn't to say that all dates end up like this because they don't. And without a doubt, the victim is not at fault. Instead, let's focus on ways that you (or your loved ones) can protect yourself when you're out on a date.
Read through these seven dating safety tips to learn more.
7 Dating Tips to Stay Safe and Protected
1. Keep watch of your food and drinks.
One simple way to protect yourself is to pay attention to what you're drinking and eating.
Avoid accepting drinks that have been brought to you. If someone offers to get you a drink, go with them as they order. Make sure you also watch as your drink is being poured by the bartender and carry it back yourself. When possible, open your drink yourself and keep control of it at all times.
Be wary of common containers, such as punch bowls, which can be spiked easily. If anything looks, smells, or tastes strange, don't take it. Some unknown substances may be bitter or salty, but many are also odorless and tasteless.
Ultimately, you need to stay alert, keep control, and never leave your food and drinks unattended.
2. Limit your alcohol consumption.
Over-consumption of alcohol plays a big role in reported sexual assaults. Alcohol affects your decision-making processes and lowers your inhibitions, making you vulnerable to different risks.
It's best to limit your alcoholic beverages while out with someone you don't know very well yet. Remember, your awareness and control of your alcohol consumption could help you safely enjoy your date — and protect you, should things take a negative turn.
3. Make sure your phone is fully charged.
Another important dating safety tip is to keep your cell phone charged and close by when you're out. If you can, bring a power bank charger so you can recharge at any time or as needed during your date. You should always have a way to contact other people.
4. Keep at least one close person in the loop.
Make sure at least one person — a roommate, friend, family member — knows when you plan to go out on a date.
Be sure to include all important information like:
- Where you are going.
- Who you're going with (name, phone number, and photo, if you have one).
- How you're getting there.
- What time you expect to be home.
If anything changes during the course of your date, inform them right away. Additionally, be sure to call and check in with them once you get home.
5. Avoid secluded places.
It's important to only go on dates in places that you feel comfortable and safe in, especially if you don't know your date very well.
Opt to meet in a public place at a time when there are other people around. This can be a local coffee shop or a restaurant where there will be other customers present.
Doing this will help decrease the chances of putting yourself in an unsafe situation.
6. Consider going on group dates.
If you're going out with someone for the first time (or if you don't know each other that well yet), you may want to go on a group or double date. This is a good way to date safely and comfortably.
When out as a group, be sure to stick with your friends. You can even create a buddy system to prevent anyone from getting separated from the group during the evening.
If a big group is not available, you can have at least one friend with you nearby.
7. Know basic self-protection measures.
When going on dates, especially a first date or blind date, it's helpful to bring self-defense tools like pepper spray. While they're obviously for an emergency only, it's good to have them nearby.
Similarly, it can be beneficial to learn basic self-defense techniques. These help you better protect yourself in the event of a physical threat. There are numerous courses online, or you might want to check your school or community centers.
Lastly, be sure you know the locations and have the contact details of your local emergency stations (police station, hospital, etc). Having these on hand will help you quickly find them in case of emergency.
When going out and meeting new people, it's important that you take into consideration your well-being. These seven dating safety tips can help ensure that you're protecting yourself from any untoward incidents.
Unfortunately, there will always be some potential risks and dangers involved when you go out on dates. If you (or someone you know) have any suspicions that you've been drugged and taken advantage of, it's important to come forward immediately as time is of the essence.
At US Drug Test Centers, we offer date rape drug test panels that test for GHB, ketamine, and rohypnol. We also have different club drug testing panels that test for cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, opiates (heroin), and PCP.Contact us today for more help, or order a test online.