When we take a romantic interest in a new person, it’s like we need to know RIGHT NOW if this person can be our future boyfriend or girlfriend. And, because of that, many daters willingly put a lot about themselves out there, whether it’s online or in person. Just the chance of finding our perfect match can make us do some risky things—things you may not even realize put you in danger. Even just posting a picture of your new car can give creeps enough information to track you down if your license plate is in the shot.
Because of the risks we face when dating, especially women, I wanted to put together a list of tips for single women to ensure they stay safe when putting themselves out there. Who better to speak to about this than retired FBI profiler, author of Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI, and famed commentator on Investigation Discovery’s, “Deadly Women”, Candice Delong.
Here are 8 crucial rules Delong says women need keep in mind:
1. Avoid posting too sexy and “party” photos. It can send the wrong message. “Not only are decent guys online looking to meet a nice woman, disturbed men and sexual predators are online, too. If you put yourself out there in the wrong way, the wrong guy might think he’s JUST the guy to give you what he thinks you want.”
Having tens of thousands of followers is flattering, but while most may look and think, “Wow, nice looking woman!” It just takes one disturbed man or sex offender thinking something else entirely, and it usually isn’t good.
2. Get more information than you give. You may want to brag but it’s better to be stingy about revealing specific data about yourself such as where you work or live, says Delong. The more he knows about your personal life, the easier it is track you and remember, once they have that information, they have it forever!
3. Do a Google search. If you knew ahead of time your date was on the lam, would you still go out with him? “We tend to show only our best side when getting to know someone–so buyer beware. Always do at least a simple Google search on a potential date, and an advanced search is even better. Try to verify what they are telling you about themselves,” says Delong.
4. Don’t judge a book by the cover. There’s a lot you can learn from someone’s photos and a lot that can mislead you. “Remember, everyone’s nice on the first date–even psychopaths. Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious and prolific serial killers of young women in our history, was a very handsome and charismatic man. Women voluntarily went off with him because he didn’t look like a bad guy. When he got them in his car, their hours were numbered…” says Delong.
5. Meet in a public place. Good places include coffee shops, restaurants, and the mall. Delong actually advise NOT to meet at a bar. “A bar is not the best place for a first date, especially one in a questionable or remote location. If you do drink alcohol, don’t leave your glass unattended – ever – and drink water too. Don’t put yourself in a high risk situation by becoming intoxicated,” she says.
6. Let others know where you’re going. “Always let a friend know in advance where you are going and who you are meeting,” says Delong. It’s also a good idea to check in with them during the date and when you get home. And speaking of going home, Delong says ALWAYS have enough money to get home on your own.
7. Never lead someone on. Stalking situations can happen through no fault of your own (for men or women), but usually develop after an intimate relationship has begun, says Delong. “For some people, a simple kiss on the cheek is enough to launch a delusion that you love them. It’s impossible to know what’s inside someone’s head and heart.”
8. Trust your gut. If your gut tells you, “it’s not right,” then it isn’t. “If you think someone has lied to you, you’re probably right–they did lie. If you overlook it (put it aside), you may end up regretting it later,” says Delong. Hanging around and trying to make it feel right or justify probably won’t work.