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Swiping Securely: A Modern Woman’s Guide to Safe Online Dating

The ultimate guide to using technology to make online dating more safe and secure. Find tips, tricks and tools to help take the fear out of first dates.

One of the best parts of being a modern woman, for me, is dating – meeting new people, trying out new restaurants and bars, and learning about what your city has to offer are among the greatest thrills in life. But, as with all exciting things, there are certain risks involved. Sure, dating leaves us all vulnerable to having our hearts broken, but there are even scarier realities that we all have to be aware of as we make our way through the dating world   As apps and online dating are now the most common way couples meet, we all have new considerations  around personal safety and wellbeing as we go on first dates (and every date thereafter). In the pre-Internet era, we had the benefit of friends and family playing matchmaker for us, or meeting someone at our job. But now, in the Wild West that is online dating, we are all on our own to suss out just who we will be meeting up with, and then to protect ourselves at every step of the way.

Meeting your date for the first time is a fraught and exciting thing – which is why it can be so exhilarating! – but there are things we can all do to make sure we go in confidently and with self-assurance. A first date is still, technically, a meeting with a stranger. It’s our responsibility to investigate just who is on the other side of the screen – and who we will eventually meet in real life.

Getting a Date

Online dating, whether by apps or traditional sites, presents a whole world (literally!) full of potential partners at our fingertips. The sheer number of people we could connect with is pretty dizzying, right? But inevitably, someone will say just the right thing – they’ll compliment our profile picture, or recognize the movie quote in our bio, or send us a message with a cheesy pickup line that makes us actually laugh out loud and not just type “LOL” – and we’ll want to take things to the next level with them. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Staying in the DMs: Sometimes, someone messages with just the right opening line and it feels like I’ve known them forever – but then I remember: all I actually know about this person is what they have told me in a few sentences about themselves.The good news: you can keep messaging them through the platform you met them! For most apps, there’s no limit to how many messages or conversations you can exchange – so take your time getting to know your potential date to be sure you trust and like them, before you share any of your personal info — even your phone number.
  • Face to Face (Time): Especially in these COVID-19 days of remote work and limited travel to see friends and family, we are all getting increasingly comfortable with first meetings (and, often second, and third…) happening virtually. Whatever video interface you use – and some apps and dating sites, like Bumble and Tinder, have this integrated! – you can “meet” someone for the first time from the comfort of your respective couches. Bonus: you only have to perfect the top half of your first-date outfit and can BYOB.
  • Due Diligence: the same way you met them is the same way you can vet them. If you found your potential-date through an online dating site or app, they probably have a presence across other social media channels. From LinkedIn to Facebook, depending on privacy settings, you can find out key details about your date so you don’t go into a first meeting entirely in the dark. Does their job title check out against what they told you their profession is? And do their pictures look consistent on Instagram and other places — or is their dating website photo clearly from fifteen pounds and five years ago?

You’ve swiped! He replied. Now what?

So you’ve swiped your way to someone you want to meet – and they want to meet you, too. Great! But where is the perfect spot for your first encounter? Even if you’ve taken all the precautions above, it’s essential to pick a well-trafficked place that you’ve been to before, so you feel comfortable with your location.

 A busy outdoor bar – ideally one where you’re a regular and have people looking out for you – is a great option. Similarly, public parks, museums, or busy malls all offer plenty of background noise and people watching (essential for avoiding the dreaded “awkward silence”), and equally importantly – enough people who are at least casually watching you, and could come to your aid if needed. Best of all is a place that you frequent on your own and have a friendly relationship with people who work there or also go frequently. For me, that’s the piano bar where all the bouncers know my name and watch out for me whenever I’m there. It’s easier to feel confident and relaxed around a new person if you’re on your own “turf,” though not your home. (And that also means you can leave the dirty dishes in the sink…)

Here are a few excellent choices for a first date:

  1. A restaurant with a patio
  2. A zoo
  3. Park
  4. Farmer’s market
  5. Outdoor sculpture garden
  6. Drive in movie
  7. Hiking

As for how you arrive at your date spot? Your choices abound, as long as you make a plan for how you can safely and independently arrive and get home – whether that means walking, taking public transit, or driving or opting to call a rideshare service. Regardless of you’re the choice of transit, I like to  engage a service like Track My Walk through the Bond personal security app, where I enter my route in advance and a Security Agent follows up with me to confirm I’ve arrived at my location – or reaches out to me if I don’t, and then alerts my emergency contact if I don’t respond.

…and Getting Out of a Date

Who among us hasn’t sent out a frantic text to a friend just before a first date, sharing the address of where we were going just in case something happened? Or asked them to call us midway through with a feigned “emergency” in case we needed an excuse to leave midway through? We all have our favorite tricks and loyal best friends to bail us out if the date isn’t going as planned; how many times have I fielded a pre-scheduled call from my best friend with an “emergency” on a Saturday night that let me graciously duck out of a date that wasn’t going well?

Regardless of the reason to want to end a date early – and surely, we all have a few absolute disaster stories —  it is always your right to leave when you want, on your own terms, and without an explanation. And while there’s still no easy solution to protect you from a date with whom you have no chemistry (sometimes, you just have to politely end the date early), there are ways to get ahead of some potential trickier situations.

For instance, you can at least take comfort in that if you need to leave quickly, you can use a service like Bond’s Send Me a Car, and based on your location, Security Agents will send an on-demand rideshare car and driver your way – so you can leave the date promptly and safely, with no excuses or negotiations needed. Should the situation turn extreme quickly, the app also allows you to sound a Siren – a way to quite definitively end a date — and most importantly deter any threatening behavior, and call attention to yourself if you’re in need of immediate help.

What to do when a first date goes bad?
When you need to get out of the Date … Bond to the rescue! Our Security Agents will check in on you and organize your early exit, if needed.

Someone By Our Side

That’s the ultimate goal of dating – to find love and companionship.  But in the short term, at least we can rely on technology to be there for us, without fail. For instance, at any point on your date, you can contact a Bond Security Agent through the app, and they can join you instantly. Security agents can connect live by Video Monitor Me if you feel uneasy, so you have another person helping you observe your situation should it become unsafe.

Smart and empowered women know that there are a number of steps we can take to be empowered and secure on first dates – taking ownership of our safety and wellbeing.

And while there’s no service yet where we can protect ourselves from a broken heart, we can relax and enjoy taking our time finding the right mate, knowing that we are safe from just about everything else – and that’s when dating can just be what it should be: fun.