Safe Dating Tips for Girls
College presents a fresh start with instantly hundreds or even thousands of new people to meet. The opportunity to date and get to know new people is a big part of the college experience, and you will develop all kinds of friendships and relationships over the next four to five years as an undergrad student. You will have the opportunity to meet diverse people with various backgrounds and from all over the globe. When it comes to dating, it is a good thing to be open and accepting of diversity. Unfortunately, we live in a world where not everyone we meet has our best interests in mind. This is why when dating, or even just hanging out with new people, it is important for girls to be aware of certain essential safety tips. Embrace the freedom to talk to whomever you want and get to know different people. However, being open and accepting of new, interesting people does not mean throwing caution to the wind or being overly naive. Be smart about the situations you find yourself in.
- Do Some Digging: Do not think that just because the attractive fraternity guy, muscular athlete, laid-back artist, or witty Student Government representative asks you out means they are being 100% honest with you or that their motives are completely honorable. To help prevent getting tricked by a not-so-nice guy, do some investigating about him outside of the setting in which the two of you met. For online investigating, start by Googling him and see what comes up. You can also comb through his Facebook and other social medias or plug in his name on a background check website, though you may have to pay for access to those kinds of searches (and be careful the website isn’t a scam). You can also ask friends of friends that are neutral about whether or not you should go on a date with him. Avoid asking individuals who have a tainted bias (such as angry ex’s or jealous girls) but don’t disregard negative opinions that seem to be a warning for your own personal safety. Also keep the positive reviews of his character in mind if they seem to be the general consensus of your inquiries. The truth is he could be a great guy and maybe even your future husband. However, there is a chance he could be the total opposite, and it is important to learn about the real him before putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.
- Watch Your Drink: Understand that guys are usually not just being nice by offering you, and maybe your friends, free drinks at their houses or out at a bar or club. Some will want something in return. It may be something as innocent as the chance to flirt with you and maybe get your number for a potential date in the future. However, you can’t ignore the possibility that they could be looking for the chance to hook up with someone that night. Not all men play fairly, or even legally, if this is their motive. They may feed you charming pick-up lines or try to smooth talk you into leaving with them, and, unfortunately, girls getting something slipped into their drink is far more common than you may think. It’s important not to develop the mindset that something like that would never happen to you. A USA Today article says that, in 2009, nearly 15,000 men and women ended up in the emergency room after being drugged by someone else (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/healthcare/health/healthcare/hospitals/story/2011-11-11/Drugs-slipped-into-drinks-sending-many-to-ER/51166844/1). If this statistic is not scary, I don’t know what is. It may seem fine to drink whatever your crush, date, or new boyfriend is offering. However, it is best to personally watch him fill your drink from a secured container. Also, do not leave your drink or food sitting in a room without closely watching it. I suggest not even put it down until you are finished.
- Have a Backup Plan to Get Home: Whether a guy’s intentions are good or bad, he will most likely try to do the gentlemen-like thing of picking his date up from her house, apartment, or dorm and taking her out. If you ever find yourself in this kind of scenario where you are dependent on him bringing you home at the end of your date, it is an extremely good idea to make a backup plan. Find a roommate, friend, RA, or someone who would be available to be on standby while you are out on your date just in case things don’t go according to plan and you need to find an alternative way home. Thankfully with cell phones and texting this is very easy to do. The main point is to have someone aware of your plans and are able to help if needed.
- Never Walk Home Alone: No matter how badly you want to leave a date or party, do not walk home alone. According to an article by The Washington Post, one in five women will be sexually assaulted in college (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/17/one-in-five-women-in-college-sexually-assaulted-an-update/). Yes one in five. That is 20% of all college women; a very scary statistic. Whether you are on a terrible date or if it’s just time to call it a night and leave a bar or party, call a friend, your school’s safe ride, a taxi, or any type of transportation option to avoid walking home alone at night. College girls, and even guys, walking by themselves are easy prey for nighttime prowlers. As a senior, if I could tell every freshman girl one thing, it would be to not walk alone at night. It’s just not worth the chance of getting attacked or even killed.
- Never Feel Obligated to Spend the Night: Do not in any way feel obligated to spend the night with a guy just because he treated you with gentlemanly charm on your date. If this is a new relationship, take things slow and make sure to get to know a person before taking that very large step of staying with him over night. Or, more urgently, don’t feel obligated to “just go with the flow” if there are any types of red flags that go up during the date. For example, learning that he has had many previous partners could increase the likelihood that he has a STD or is only interested in you for sex. Other red flags might be if you find yourself in a house with only his guy friends or roommates, if he becomes more handsy when he’s been drinking alcohol, or whether or not you will have access to adequate birth control. If you are not interested in moving to that stage yet but think it is what he wants, tell him. A real gentleman who is interested in you as a person would understand completely. However, if he continues to try and entice you, politely inform him that you have homework to do, your roommate or friend needs help with something, you promised to watch a movie with a friend later that night, or that you are simply getting tired and are ready to go home. Never let him cause you to feel pressured into going home with him if you are having red flags about the situation or are just not ready for that hug step. Don’t put his feelings being hurt over your mental and physical well being. It could be a mistake you live with for the rest of your life.
- Feel Free to Contact Counseling or the Authorities: Most schools offer counseling for free that are totally confidential for students who need this resource. If you know you are not in a safe relationship with a boyfriend or new fling, seek help. Some signs that a situation may be unsafe could include your date being overly pushy about you drinking, doing unnecessary handling, behaving completely different toward you in a group setting, seeming overly jealous or controlling, or bringing up uncomfortable topics you don’t want to discuss. Do not just stay in an unsafe situation because you do not know whom to talk to or what to do to get out of the negative environment. In addition to a counseling service provided by your school, other authorities are also an option. If you have been threatened or abused in any way, find or call a campus police officer and report the incident immediately. This is their job and they want to protect you. Do not think that just because your new date has had a few drinks it is okay for him to roughly manhandle or verbally abuse you. Get out of the situation as quickly as you can before it gets worse and tell someone. Don’t give him the chance to mistreat other women.
- Be Proactive: There are various active preventative steps that can be taken to help keep you safe while out on the town. Doing simple things such as carrying pepper spray or some other small self-defense item is a smart, proactive idea in case you ever find yourself in a threatening situation. Also, most, if not all schools will offer self-defense classes to students to help men and women see how they can effectively defend themselves during an attack and teach them how to navigate dangerous situations correctly. Other proactive steps you should consider before venturing out at night to have a good time include making sure you are familiar with the area so you don’t get lost, having the number for a taxi company already in your phone and making sure you have a way to pay the fee, and always make sure you have access to proper protection if you choose to engage in sexual activity. Never rely on the guy to be the responsible one.
You may have been reading this article thinking, wow, this girl doesn’t want me to date or have fun at all in college. No, that is absolutely not what this is saying. The point of this article is to make girls aware of some of the ugly truths and dangers about dating. Dating in college is a wonderful opportunity and there are tons of great outcomes. A lot of people even end up marrying their college sweetheart. These safety tips not only relate to dating in college, but in general. Remember to be open minded but careful. Keep a close eye on your drinks and food at bars, clubs, and parties. Try to have an exit strategy for all your date nights in case things don’t go according to plan. Always use the buddy system, or take advantage of transportation services so that you never walk home alone. Do not feel obligated to spend the night or continue dating someone if you are seeing red flags or don’t want to rush into anything. And lastly, utilize campus counseling services or higher authorities if you know you are not in a safe dating relationship or situation. Enjoy yourself and enjoy dating, but be safe and use your brain so you don’t wind up as part of the scary, but very real statistics about women and dating in college.