“Online Dating 101: Being Safe”

A couple of months back, I was trying the whole online dating thing when I found out about “How About We” app.

The way it works is you just make a post about what’s your ideal date.

The post can go something like this: “How about we …

  • Grab some coffee at starbucks.”
  • Hangout at the pub and play some pool.”
  • Go to a Texas Rangers game.”

You put something up there.  If someone’s interested they’ll click on a button and you’ll get a notification saying someone’s down for some coffee with you.

You on the other hand can also browse people’s “ideal date” posts and respond to those dates if you’re interested.

Posting and browsing is free, but if you want to communicate with anyone to setup a date, you’re going to have to sign up for their membership.

Being the cheap and frugal person that I am, I decide against paying for anything that doesn’t guarantee results.  For all I know, this website could be a scam.

As an alternative, I tried to beat the system.  Or rather I found a loophole.   I posted the typical date idea with one small addition.

“Let’s grab dinner and entertainment at Dave and Busters.  Email me at myemail@hotmail.com, if you’re interested.”

Since the app charges you to communicate, I decided to bypass that step by including my own form of communication in the post.

Obviously, I realized that I was probably violating some kind of “how about we” rules/policies.  If everyone decided to do what I did, “how about we” would never make any money from all their hard work.

Within a half day, I got a nice email from their technical support saying that they deleted that post because I’m not supposed to post any personal form of communications and asked me nicely to refrain from posting anything like that in the future.

They busted my chops, but my futile attempt to beat the system actually produce some results.  To be exact, it produced one result.

I got an email from one person who was interested in going on a date with me.

After going back and forth introducing ourselves to each other, she sent me the following email:

Hi,

Well I would prefer we meet up immediately (meaning in the next few days). I realized what better way to know if I want to get to know that person more? I do ask that you post a pic with todays date so I know it’s a recent pic (I would do the same for you), it just eliminates the chances of us meeting up with a completely different person.

Two things stood out to me in this email.  First of all, she wants to meet immediately, which makes sense to me.  No use in going back and forth emailing, if you don’t enjoy each other’s company.

Secondly, she wants a pic of me with today’s date on it?  That’s similar to what happens on reddit when celebrities do AMA sessions.

An AMA (Ask Me Anything) is where a celebrity will go on a chat forum (such as Reddit) and answer any question you ask them.  The tough part is proving that you’re that celebrity, because anyone can go online and claim that they are Brad Pitt.  Therefore the celebrities usually take a picture of themselves, holding a sign saying “Hi Reddit!  This is Brad Pitt”.

Here are some examples of celebrities providing evidence for AMA sessions:

  • Will Ferrell:  link
  • Bill Gates:  link
  • Matt Damon:  link

My date was basically asking the same questions of me.  Who is this guy I’m really talking to?  Can I believe that the pics he send me are actually pics of him?  She wants a pic of me holding today’s date.  There’s no way an impostor could fake that.

Therefore I sent her the following picture:

 

me

Just in case you’re wondering … Yes I was at Kingspa!! Also, I blurred out my personal email and hers to protect our privacy.

 

And immediately she replied with this:

2014-05-11 19.24.56

Her original picture was crystal clear.  I just blurred her face so I can put it on this blog.  No point in the whole world knowing how she looks like.

 

I then setup a place, day, and time for us to meet up.

She then replied with this:

Hello,

Is ?:??pm good to meet up today @ ????????? (Euless off 10)?  And are you going to meet me up front or inside (done this before and there was a confusion with that lol)?

What will you be wearing?  I’ll be wearing my black glasses so it’s easier for you to tell me apart easier?
Up until now, from reading all her emails, I could tell that she has been doing this for a long time.  She seems to have made some mistakes in the past and right now she’s doing everything she can to make sure those mistakes don’t repeat.  I felt like I was going on a date with her and the 15 other guys she’s been on an online date with.

We eventually met up.  We had a good time, but it was very short.

Short in that it ended in like thirty minutes.  Normally, I’m used to going on dates where we would hangout and talk/chill to our hearts content.  Either the date is awkward and we both want to get out ASAP.  Or it’s very enjoyable and can last for hours.

This one was enjoyable, yet it ended soon.  It’s as if she was on some kind of timeline and regardless of how the date went, she was going to leave at that time, which I didn’t really get at that time.

On the way home, something strange happened.

I was driving home to Arlington which was south of where we met, and she was driving home to Southlake which was north of where we met.  But in order to get to the highway we both had to head down the same street.  For some reason, she noticed that I was behind her, so she immediately made a u-turn and headed back the way we came from.

My initial thought was, Why is she taking that route?  That’s going to take her longer to get home.  But then I realized, she probably thought I was following her.  Which is a scary thought, because you don’t know if this stranger you just met is a nice guy or some kind of serial killer.

Kudos to her for ensuring her own safety.



Looking back at the date, I learned that many of precautions she took can be helpful to others.

  1. When meeting an online date for the first time, ask for a pic with their name, your name, and today’s date.  You wouldn’t want to meet up and discover the person is 50 lbs heavier than they are in the pic they sent you.  Current pics only please.
  2. Set a time limit on the date.  I believe the reason she did this was because she probably told someone close to her about the date.  “Hey Beth, I’m going on a date with this guy I met online.  Here’s the name of the restaurant and address.  I’m leaving at 7 pm, meeting him at 7:30 pm, and will only spend 30 minutes there.  If you don’t get a text from me at 8:00 pm, freak out and call my relatives/cops/whatever.”   That way, she can go on the date knowing that someone is aware of the date and they know all the details of her location.  If they are concerned, they can always call or text.  When you set a time limit on the date, it’s easier for you to ensure everything goes according to your plans not theirs.
  3. Research different routes home.  There’s always the possibility of someone tailing you.  You never want to lead someone straight to your home, especially if you live alone.  Therefore check your rearview mirror, be ready to take a detour.  If you feel unsafe, just find a public place, park and call someone you know to come.  It’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
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