Dating Safety Tips
'Trust, but keep your eyes open' is a helpful old-saying. It suggests that, when it comes to dating, you don't want to spoil things by being paranoid. But at the same time, you're (usually) meeting someone who is a near stranger. A certain amount of caution is justified. Advance planning allows you to enjoy the date all the more, since you won't have to be constantly thinking about safety.
Fantasy plays a large part in the initial stages of a relationship, as it should. You project what the other person is like before you have enough real-life data to know for sure. That's part of the great experience, those first feelings. But you want to be reasonably sure that the person on the other end of the wire is really like what you thought.
Take an intermediate step between email and meeting in person by talking on the phone for a while. That puts a voice to the photo and words you've already seen and read. That raises the level of confidence, since it gives you much richer information about the real person. Anyone reluctant to talk on the phone before meeting is more likely to be a scam artist.
Once you make the decision to meet in person, select a place that is public and in a good part of town. Out of the way places are cozy and romantic, but save that for later. Pick someplace not too noisy or crowded, so you can get the clearest view and hear their voice well. It's possible to be fooled by a clever actor, but if you stay alert it's hard for someone to keep up the act for long.
Arrange for your own transportation to and from the date. If you live in a city that doesn't have great public transportation, take your own car. If you use public transportation, make sure you can use a location that your date isn't likely to use as well. Arrange to meet somewhere other than the entrance or exit to the station.
Make sure at least two friends or family members know where you're going and how long you expect to be, and have one of them expect a phone call. You can politely excuse yourself at a pre-arranged time to make a check-in call. Agree in advance on a time range, not an up-to-the-minute time for the call. No need to get anyone upset for no reason if you're delayed a bit. Then, don't forget to call.
Keep alcohol consumption to a very low level, and keep an eye on your glass and food. You want to keep a clear head and ensure that no one is drugging your food or drink. You don't want to be suspicious, just aware. If you really suspect that the other person is there for inappropriate purposes, it's better to just leave early.
Here again it's important to remind yourself that it's a date, not an interview. You don't want to ruin your enjoyment, or your chances, by being unduly suspect. Most people really are there to get to know you, not to harm you. At the same time, you don't know them well. Friendly but alert represents the best balance.