Orlando Relationship & Marriage Counselor offers tips for Safe Dating, in light of the devastating murder of a University of Virginia lacrosse player, many of us are asking, how safe is it to date?
Dating is an important milestone in a young person’s life, even serving as a rite of passage from adolescence to young adulthood. Sometimes though, if we are not careful, this very practice that was intended to help us find the person we are a going to marry, becomes a life threatening, or even a life-ending experience.
Tips for Safe Dating:
1. Give yourself plenty of time to learn about the other person.
  • Try to see past the physical attraction. Ask questions about them. What do they like to do for fun? What about their values? Do they treat others with respect?
  • Find things you have in common. Do you like the same sports? Do you know the same people? How do they feel about their family? Do they like school?
  • Establish clear expectations before going out. Pay close attention to how they respond to your boundaries. Are they quick to get angry? Do they pressure you into things that make you uncomfortable? Or, do they respect your convictions?

2. Practice Group Dating

  • Dating in a group setting will allow you to observe how the other person interacts in social situations. Do they get along well with others, or are they stirring up conflict?
  • When out with a group, there is less pressure directly on you because everyone is interacting. You will most likely be comfortable enough to “be yourself.”
  • Having a support system of trusted friends will allow you to receive feedback on your date. Your friends usually have your best interest in mind and will alert if they sense something is not right.

3. Leave Sex Out of the Equation

  • Eliminate as much temptation as possible. Date in public places initially. Pay your own way– this eliminates the question of “owing” anything to your date.
  • Communicate with your date clearly. Set boundaries and stick to them. Never wander away from the group, as it will make it more difficult to resist any urges.
  • Designate a trusted friend to be your “wing person,” and if he or she observes anything that may lead to sexual behavior, have them intervene immediately.

4. Trust Your Instincts. Our survival instincts sense danger faster than our logical mind.

  • Don’t use emotions to justify another person’s behavior.
  • If you sense that something does not feel right about the person you are dating or the way the relationship is evolving, you are most likely right.
  • If you need to end things, don’t be afraid of offending the other person, be polite, but firm and direct.

Sometimes, however, we do not realize that we are in an unsafe dating situation until we think it is too late. Thankfully, if you are breathing, it is not too late!

Below are some tips on what to do once you realize you are in an abusive relationship.

1. Know the Warning Signs

  • Oftentimes, the abuse starts emotionally. Are you being teased? Is the other person jealous or controlling?

2. Seek Help Immediately

3. Devise a Safety Plan

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