With Valentines Day approaching, we all know love is in the air. The overload of love hearts, giant teddies and flowers often provokes reflection of your own relationship status.
Surrounded by constant reminders of how single you are, the rise in the use of dating apps around this time every year is not surprising.
In a statement sent to Bustle UK, Hinge revealed that 35% more dates are arranged on the night of Valentine’s Day than comparable days
With the increase in active users leading up to Valentines Day, Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally each February (8th Feb this year!), inspiring conversation about using technology respectfully and responsibly.
The days of meeting someone organically in a bar are long gone. We're deeply immersed in an era of swiping, matching, meeting and unfortunately, ghosting. As light hearted as these usually are, there is undoubtedly a dark side to online dating that must never be overlooked. Dating can be fun and exciting but being aware of the risks is crucial to ensuring your safety. We've listed a few of the most important tips for staying safe this Valentines Day.
How to Stay Safe on Your Date
Take your time Get to know who's on the other side of the screen before meeting them. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be wary of red flags; if something sounds off, trust your instinct. It's always wise to have a phone/video call prior to the date to ensure you know who you're meeting.
Tell someone where you're going It's important to let a friend know about your date and where you're planning on meeting. If you ever feel uncomfortable, it's always reassuring to know a friend can meet you and help you out of the situation. Turning on your phone location (e.g. Snapchat Maps or Find My Friends) will also ensure friends and family can see your whereabouts if needed.
Meet in a public place As intimate as meeting alone may be, it's always safer to meet in a public place surrounded by others. Whether thats a bar, a restaurant or an activity, the busier the better! If your date pressures you to move on to a private location against your will, speak to a bartender or reach out to a friend. Consent is crucial and establishing boundaries helps to ensure you're both on the same page. In any scenario where you feel uncomfortable, remember to 'Ask for Angela' at the bar. This code word alerts the bar staff that you feel unsafe, and they will promptly remove you from the premises without a fuss.
Be mindful of alcohol consumption A bit of Dutch Courage is often appreciated when meeting someone for the first time. But as much as we'd love to put all faith in humanity, there are some awful people out there that would take advantage of your intoxication. Alcohol often distorts your judgement and awareness, making you an easy target for predators. Know your tolerance and be conscious of how much you're drinking.
Don't leave drinks or personal items unattended I'm sure we all remember the many incidents of spiking a couple of months ago. The sad reality is that it was not a one-off trend. Date rape drugs like Rohypnol are odourless, colourless and often expertly concealed. The best thing to do is only accept drinks poured by the bartender and always take your drink with you wherever possible. Below are a few tips to spot if your drink has been spiked...
If you feel unwell, ask a bartender for help and call an ambulance if necessary.
Plan how you'll get home Make sure you know how to get home prior to the date. Be aware of public transport that may be running and at what times, or arrange for a friend to meet you. Uber also has a great function of 'sharing your trip', so friends can see your route home. If driving yourself home, ensure you avoid any alcohol at all.
If you are looking to go on a date this Valentines Day, be sure to check out some of our exclusive packages! Just be mindful; we want to ensure everyone stays safe on their dates and have the most positive experience possible!