Following my divorce a few years back, I matched on a dating site with a guy from my area, and we immediately began emailing.
Because we were both local, he suggested meeting for a quick drink that same evening. I was hesitant to go being it was on such short notice, so I asked a friend for her opinion. She said she thought it would be okay but suggested requesting we have a phone call first, which he was happy to accommodate. After only a few minutes, under five to be exact, I determined that he sounded normal (whatever that means) and agreed to meet him.
Lucky for me, he turned out to be normal. And nice! However, I neglected to tell my friend (another single mom) who had given me the thumbs up for the last minute date that all was well. When she didn’t hear from me, and I neglected to answer her numerous calls and texts, she panicked and enlisted the help of a mutual friend to call me at the restaurant where I was having a drink to make sure I was alive and well.
Embarrassing? Yes. Overkill? Debatable. After all, when we make the acquaintance of someone online, we don’t know much, if anything, about them. In this case, the guy turned out to be harmless. (What he also turned out be was another friend’s soon-to-be ex-husband. Awkward…)
To avoid having this ever happen again, as well as preventing any other potentially compromising situations including putting myself in harm’s way, I have since implemented a few dating rules for myself. Although they’re not foolproof, I find these guidelines do make my dating experience a more positive, if not, productive one. Here they are.
1. Schedule a phone call first.
I’ve heard many different opinions on this topic: you need to meet in person to tell if there’s chemistry, some people aren’t good on the phone, and how much better it is to be spontaneous. While all these reasons make sense, I still find a phone call saves me time, effort, and money traveling to meet someone in person I already know I have no interest in dating.
During that initial call, I can determine a lot, including whether their family and living situation is right for me and, in a most basic sense, whether I enjoy speaking with them and want to get to know them better. A little more than five minutes is probably your best bet (wink, wink).
2. Don’t give out too much personal information.
Of course, people can say anything they want during a call, much of which you have no way of verifying, especially their state of mind. That’s why you should make it a point to keep certain details about your life private.
Use your judgment. If you’re talking to someone you have no connection with whatsoever, giving out your home address is a bad idea. If you have friends in common, revealing what part of town you live in is probably okay. The point is to be aware of the information you are giving out and to whom.
3. Let someone know where you’re going.
Then stay in touch with that person, so he or she knows you’re safe. Had I followed this rule on the date I described above, I could have avoided the bartender telling me in front of the guy I was with that I had a phone call, making me feel like Norm from Cheers. All kidding aside, staying in touch is a rule that could potentially save your life.
4. Meet in a public place.
Meeting in public should entail there are people around. I had a guy once ask if I wanted to go for a late afternoon walk in a park I had never been to before in a town I didn’t know. Thanks but no thanks. Don’t go anywhere where you’re not comfortable. And if that’s not cool with the person you’re planning to meet, by all means, don’t go!
5. Keep your wits about you.
A date is about getting to know someone better. Because you don’t know that person well yet, you may not know what their triggers are. Conversations can turn quickly, especially if there’s alcohol involved, so be aware of how much you’re drinking.
Also, not everyone deals well with rejection. I was once in a situation where, although I was polite, the guy I was with got the sense I wasn’t interested in seeing him again and berated me over text message minutes after parting ways. I was thankful I had followed rules two, three, four, and five above, and regretted not following number one. If I had, I’m pretty sure the date would never have happened. But, then again, neither would have this list.
Stay safe out there!
About the Author: Stacey Freeman is a writer and blogger from the New York City area, a divorced single mom, lifestyle editor at Worthy.com, and the founder and managing director of Write On Track, LLC, a full-service consultancy dedicated to providing high-quality content to individuals and businesses. A respected voice for divorce issues affecting both women and men, Stacey has been published in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, Town & Country, HuffPost, xoJane, Scary Mommy, CafeMom, MariaShriver.com, The Good Men Project, and various well-known platforms worldwide.