How To Safely And Smoothly Navigate A First Date

While first date jitters always come with anxious thoughts of what will I wear? and hoping they're as cute their Hinge profile suggests, it's especially important to focus on keeping yourself safe while meeting up with anyone for the first time. Regardless of whether or not you and your date totally seem to click and have been bonding over your love of "The Office" since swiping right, taking precautions to protect yourself prior to meeting IRL can literally save your life. "Remember, everyone's nice on the first date — even psychopaths," says former FBI profiler Candice Delong via Style Caster, noting that serial killer Ted Bundy lured his female victims in by playing up his charm and charisma. And while that's not to say that you should automatically assume every Tinder match is the next Ted Bundy, it's always best to play it safe until you truly get to know someone.

"First dates are anxiety-inducing enough without the added layer of worry about safety," says sexologist GiGi Engle via Bumble. "If you have extra precautions in place that make you feel like you're not in harm's way, you're going to be able to let some of those anxieties go, relax, and be yourself." Knowing how to properly plan and navigate a first date can keep you safe while helping you feel confident and empowered in your decisions.

Tell a friend where you'll be

One of the most important ways to protect yourself on a first date is to ensure someone you trust knows where you will be at all times. Whether you want to text the group chat to let them know the plans of your date or only let it slip to your closest confidante, it's important to make sure at least one other person knows the deets to ensure your safety. "When going out on a first date, let one or more friends know when and where you are going and all of the information you have about your date like their name, where they work, and what neighborhood they live in," says Maria Sullivan, dating expert and vice president of (per Pop Sugar).

To play it even safer, share your real-time location with at least one other person via an app on your phone — especially if you think you might end up moving on to a new hangout spot at any point during the date. Your location will update automatically for your trusted friend when they check in on you, which is ideal if you forget to text them and let them know you are continuing the night elsewhere. Additionally, if your date turns out to be a red flag or you feel like you might be in danger, your friend knows exactly where to find you should they need to come bail you out — or send someone to you who can.

Meet in a public place

Plans to "Netflix and chill" on a first date are overrated. Not only is agreeing to go to your date's house upon first meeting them an incredibly risky decision, but a potential partner arranging a night-in at their pad screams "no effort." Planning to meet your date at a public place like a restaurant, a museum, or a park instead will help keep you safe and provide the perfect setting for intelligent conversation with your date that allows you to get to really know them before being alone together. "Try to choose places you're familiar with," says Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former FBI criminal profiler and author of "Dangerous Instincts" (via Style Caster). "Be very leery about meeting in remote places like a hiking trail, boat, or a park. While romantic, there might be no one around if you need help."

Planning to meet your date at a place you are familiar with will not only help keep you out of harm's way, it can also help quell any pre-date nerves. In fact, Jason Hanson, CIA agent and author of "Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life," says that you should always be the one to tell your date where you are meeting for the first time. "They could have it prearranged to have something bad happen," he says via Style Caster. "You never want to give a potential criminal the advantage to be on their turf."

Have an exit strategy

According to a study by, nearly 40% of women and 28% of men studied have felt uncomfortable or unsafe on a date at some point, with 6% of those studied saying they felt so unsafe on their date that they actually had to call the cops. While it's always ideal to think that the person you are meeting up with could potentially be "the one," the reality is that they very well might not be — which is totally fine, unless they turn out to be a creep. "Develop your 'early leaving' statement before meeting up for the date, and practice what you'll say if you decide he — or she! — is too creepy and you want to leave early," O'Toole says via Style Caster.

Whatever your exit strategy may be, have one in your back pocket in case your date turns out to be a walking red flag. Whether you create a fake story to leave or simply ghost, having a plan in place should things go sour can help you keep your cool and allow you to get home unscathed. Remember, you don't owe anyone anything and should never feel obligated to continue a date if you don't want to. If your date is being aggressive, inappropriate, or making you feel uncomfortable in any way, it's time to get out of there.

Arrange your own transportation

When it comes to getting to your date, it's best if you both arrange your own transportation. Having your date pick you up at your place of residence is risky, and deeply personal information about yourself, such as your address, should never be revealed to someone so early. Not only do you not want a stranger knowing where you live, by picking you up at your house or apartment, they can better determine whether or not you live alone.

Having your date pick you up also forces you to be in a car alone with them, which you aren't sure is a safe thing to do until you get to know them better. Driving yourself to the date or getting your own rideshare not only helps keep you safe from a potentially dangerous situation, doing so also allows you to leave the date on your own terms should you need to. Even If you drive yourself to the date, Match recommends still having a backup transportation option in place should you be unable to drive yourself home for any reason. Having a friend on standby who can come pick you up or making sure you have a rideshare app downloaded and ready to go can help ensure you get home safely without having to rely on your date.