With over 7,500 online dating websites, many people are finding their soul mate, or at least their new date for the week, online. While many of these matches end up in good dates without a problem, there is always an inherent danger in meeting up with someone you only ever met online. Here are some tips to help you stay safe when going out to get to know a stranger.

Learn Self-defense
It is always a good idea to learn a type of self-defense, whether for dating or just general personal security. Take classes in kickboxing, taekwondo, or even just a basic self-defense course in order to get the best defensive practices. The police department may even give free self-defense classes in your local community if there is enough interest. If you’re not too keen on learning martial arts, however, there are tools made to make self-defense easier. Easily purchased online are purse-sized pepper-sprays, weighted items to bludgeon an opponent, and even hidden blades in jewelry. Whatever your style, have something on hand should you need to take your safety into your own hands.

Always Meet in Public
You should always meet your date for the first few times in a well-lit, public location where there are lots of people around. While most people are just looking for a good time, you can never be too careful. Meeting up in a neutral location will allow you to keep personal information, such as your home address, private until you are able to better get to know the individual. Going to their home can be equally dangerous, so go with your gut and hold off on compromising your safety in terms of location until you know you can trust your date.

Use a Date Rape Drug Test
A date rape drug test is a simple way to make sure that no one has spiked your drink. Spiking drinks is very common not only on first dates, but even just hanging out at the bar and meeting someone for the first time there. Never leave your drink unattended, and if you do, or you notice a strange flavor (especially an almond flavor) to your drink, test it immediately and call the cops if it comes up positive for date rape drugs. You can find tests that fit onto your keys or onto the back of your phone. Just take a swipe of your drink and rub it on the test. In under three minutes, you can know if your drink is safe or if you’ve been targeted by a predator.

Coordinate with Friends and Family
When going out on a date with someone you don’t know well, make sure that someone you trust knows where you are. Tell a friend or family member where you’ll be going and how long you expect to be gone, as well as who you’re going with. Make sure that you have access to a ride home if things go poorly, as well, and encourage your friends to keep tabs on you during the date to ensure you are safe and comfortable.

Use these ideas and your own ingenuity to stay safe on a date you meet online. If you feel uncomfortable, end the date immediately. Your safety is not worth compromising, and your gut can often pick up on danger signals that you otherwise wouldn’t notice. Stay aware, stay safe, and be prepared before going out with someone you don’t know.

Author's Bio: 

Anica has a Jack Russell Terrier named Saxon, three daughters that are 13, 11, and 7.