Dating and #Travelating is not a new concept to me – and I’m sure many of you guys date while you travel. But talking about it to people who care about you flips their faces into one big red flag; “That’s dangerous. You’re alone in a foreign country and awful things could happen to you.” And you know what? They’re 100% right and dating safety is a serious issue.
But here’s another thing; I could die today crossing the road and the destiny wouldn’t give a damn about whether I was a female solo traveler or how much leg I was showing on the crossing. So the fact that dating in a foreign country carries a risk of getting assaulted or worse isn’t enough to put me off doing it – after all, the risk isn’t as big as jumping off a cliff and calculating the probability that you’ll live.
Still it would be insanely stupid to completely ignore that risk – something I would never do. Just before I launched this site, I talked through the idea of ‘Tinderella Worldwide’ to a close friend and she said that her number one concern was my own safety. So I’m addressing that issue here with a complete breakdown of essential dating safety tips for #travelating. These apply to guys as well as girls and especially on first dates.
Before the Date:
1. Pre-date stalk
Ah the pre-date stalk. Yeah it’s more to satisfy your curiosity than for being safe. But still – it’s essential to dating safety. Here are some stalking methods:
- How many pictures are on the profile? If it’s just one or if they’re all blurry, that’s off.
- Stalk their Facebook if you can – do they have friends?
- Do a Google image search if you sense something isn’t right – take inspiration from the Catfish show on MTV – hopefully nothing will be weird enough to warrant this, but it’s another tool to help.
- What’s their Instagram like? Again a curiosity thing, but if it’s full of naked women or something then they’re a dick…
- If you’re in a different country and their bio is in a different language, ask what it means – good way of getting a feel how what they’re like/whether or not they can carry a convo in English.
- Know how old they are – if it’s not on their profile then ask. Otherwise it could end up like the Friends episode when Monica got with the 18 year old and it was icky.
2. Don’t give out personal info
OK so this looks contradictory – Zainab, why would you stalk out their closet skeletons and then make sure they can’t see you? No, that’s not what I mean. Don’t give out info that is too personal and could bite you in the arse – E.g. your address, email, mum’s telephone number etc. You don’t know them and don’t want a potential axe murderer to know where you live. Most guys are genuinely not serial killers. But don’t take any risks for your dating safety.
3. Don’t lie
If you don’t have an 8-pack or earn a six figure salary, then don’t lie! Honesty is the best policy and if you want to eventually meet with someone, then lying first is a shit way of connecting and building trust. If someone doesn’t like you for who you are/how you look, accept that as a truth and move on instead of filling your time with lies for your ego. Also if you meet someone who finds out you’ve lied, it puts you in a vulnerable situation, because they then have the power to make you feel bad or try and get you to compensate.
4. Talk on the phone first
Not sure about this one, because I’m awkward on the phone with people I haven’t met first. But it could work for you as a good way of figuring out your instinct on a person. If you’re abroad, Whatsapp call them.
5. If they request money get the hell out
Goes without saying. This has never happened to me but if it did, I would un-match and block everywhere faster than a ninja – I mean, you haven’t met them. Even after the date this would still apply. Ask yourself at what stage you would feel comfortable asking someone for money (for me, it would be in a stable relationship) – apply the same rule to them.
During the date:
6. Tell a friend
Have someone you can trust and tell them where you’re going. If you’re like me and your (Asian) mum or family might be weird about it, have a fail-safe friend that you can rely on if things get weird.
7. Provide your own transportation
Why would you get into a car with someone you haven’t met? Don’t do it. In most countries, Uber or Grab are efficient and affordable. In countries lucky enough to have good public transport, there’s that too. If you leave with someone, that’s your decision, but make sure you can trust them and have your own transport ready in case you need to get out.
8. Meet in a public place
Value your dating safety and don’t meet anywhere quiet or a place that would make you feel uneasy– Definitely don’t just go to their home. Even if it’s a hook-up. If you are planning on hooking up NSA, I’d still suggest meeting in a public place first so you can actually see and talk to them – you can’t know their intentions just from text.
9. Don’t ignore red flags
I can’t prescribe exactly when red flags go up – you just know when they do. Have they said something to make you feel on edge? Are they being too touchy-feely and not responding to your signals? Do they make you feel uncomfortable? At the end of the day, pleasing someone else or being polite is not worth compromising dating safety. If you feel weird on a first date then just GO. Backup plan ideas (number 15) will come in handy here.
10. Know emergency numbers
This especially applies in foreign countries. Know what the emergency service numbers are and have it ready – just in case. Here’s a list of global emergency telephone numbers – Thanks Wikipedia…
11. Don’t leave food or drink unattended
Do you really know them well enough to be certain they don’t have roofies or any other date rape nasties? Yeah it’s far-fetched and they most probably don’t… But just be aware – especially if they’re already ringing your alarm bells with red flags (if that’s the case, GTFO).
12. Limit your booze
Now I’m not saying to be a librarian about this. Some articles say not to drink at all – for me this is unrealistic, so I’d say to just know your limits. Getting too drunk isn’t a good look anyway and at worst it could be dangerous, especially in a foreign country where you know nobody and if you have a shitty sense of direction like me. We’ve all been too drunk on a date, so here’s my story to make you feel better:
A few years ago I went on a date with this short guy who I thought was super hot. Despite his height, he drank like a tank, so I tried to play catch-up. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I ended up puking on a cash-point outside the club as he called a taxi for me and I went home alone with my vomit-breath. Not my proudest moment, but in hindsight I see it could have been dangerous (what if he was a creep and had taken advantage?) – Don’t let that be you.
13. Go on a group date
This wouldn’t work for me; I would feel weird if people were looking at me and my date. But it’s an option nonetheless (has anyone tried the Tinder group date thingy?) Friends are useful in many ways; they can help watch drinks, stop you getting too drunk or making an idiot out of yourself generally. They can also praise your heroic deeds in front of your date…
14. Carry protection
No, I mean pepper spray. If the worst happens and you’re in a tight situation, then keep it near you. It’s also good as a placebo just to know you have it but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security – keep instincts sharp. Yeah and keep condoms too for another ‘just in case’.
15. Call for backup
Have a backup plan ready in case you need a quick exit; this could be getting your fail-safe friend to call or text you. Or pretend to text. Then have an excuse handy that you need to go. Examples include:
- My friend is locked out of her apartment, I need to go
- My friend has fallen on the road I need to go (OK a bit dramatic)
- My uncle is in hospital I need to go (if that doesn’t make you feel guilty)
- I need to pack, because I’m leaving tomorrow/moving to a new Airbnb tomorrow (this works for me and is a good traveller one)
I just found out there is an app by eHarmony called ‘Bad Date Rescue’ – this could get interesting…
Alrighty so that’s all I’ve got so far. Apart from calling people beforehand and going on group dates, I’m proud to say I pretty much do all of these. It seems like a lot, but regularly practicing good dating safety makes it into a habit – just like brushing your teeth… I’m not going to kid myself – something awful could happen to me on a date no matter how many precautions I take. But then I could get run over as well. This list of things at least tries to help us help ourselves if things are in a position to go wrong.
What do you think? Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments below :).