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On dating safety

What do you mean you want to fuck someone you’ve only just met? What on earth would your mother say? Well, whether our mothers like it or not, sometimes we want to fuck strangers. And sometimes those strangers are people we’ve met on the internet who could turn out to be anyone – from secret millionaires to serial killers.

In my experience, people you meet on internet dates are far more likely to just be normal people with whom you have little in common, and who you’re reasonably unlikely to fuck. But if you do want to fuck them, here’s my magic list of rules for staying as safe as possible.

Note: as safe as possible, not 100% safe. There is no way that I know of to absolutely guarantee your personal safety, but then such is true of many of life’s funnest activities. Also, this is written as if it’s a girl-meets-boy thing, but I reckon you should use these rules no matter who you are or who you’re banging.


Now, everyone knows that you should meet in public, right? OK. So that’s an easy one – pick a pub, or a coffee-shop, or a well-lit community centre, and arrange to meet at a time when people will be around.

So – central London Wetherspoons at 7 pm? Great.

Outside a small cafe in an area of town so heartbleedingly cool that it’s often empty? Not so great.

Fun GOTN dating fact: About a year ago, after a bit of chat with a fun-sounding guy on OKCupid, I asked him to meet me for a drink. His response was that it might be a bit more sexy if we meet somewhere secluded. In the dark. He suggested a particular spot in Hyde Park, at 8pm in midwinter.

I did not meet this man.

Telling people about yourself

The first date is great for getting to know someone, right? Well, yes – you need to find out about them and you need to tell them about yourself. But I’d strongly urge a teeny bit of caution. You might be proud of your job, but do they really need to know exactly where you work?

You might hang out in a particularly cool bar quite frequently, but would you like a rejected date rocking up there and haranguing you because you never called after the first shag? No.

Fun GOTN dating fact: I once went on a nice first date with a seemingly lovely guy. For reasons I won’t go into, I refused a second date.

He subsequently sent me five emails in quick succession, of increasing levels of nastiness. My particular favourite was one addressed to ‘you fucking bitch’ that thoughtfully reminded me that he knew where I worked.

Inviting someone back to yours

Dangerous – bear in mind that just as you wouldn’t post your address on the internet, neither should you really invite internet strangers to your house unless you know them well.

I have invited a couple of strange guys back to my place, and both of these times I have had stomach butterfies when it turned out they were more keen on me than I was on them. After you’ve let them down gently, it still takes a couple of weeks to get over the worry that they might turn up at your door bearing roses and erotica and asking for a second go.

However, if you want to take someone back to yours, but are worried that they might either:

a) do something you haven’t consented to or

b) nick your fucking telly

then it’s worth having backup.

There’s no ideal way of doing this, to be honest – anything you do will need to be pretty extreme, thus implying that you think they’re untrustworthy. And if you think they’re that untrustworthy then it’s best not to invite them back.

But I’ve done it a couple of times, and the only solution I could think of was to take something that they value and hide it somewhere in my flat. Obviously you have to ask them for it (ideally in a joking, coquettish way) and they have to know you’ve taken it, so they know you need to be on good terms with them to give it back afterwards. Watches, keys, wallets – anything that they wouldn’t fuck off without.

It is crucial that you remember to give it back – you don’t want to get stuck in a second-date situation just because you’ve still got their Tesco clubcard.

Fun GOTN dating fact: I once rescued a drunk guy whose friends had abandoned him outside a strip club I was in. I took him home and put him up for the night, but insisted first on getting his driver’s license. He was so aroused by my aura of cheeky dominance that he proceeded to lunge adorably at me before passing out face-down on the floor.

Going home with someone

He might not have brought his serial killer axe with him, but he could just have left it in the cupboard under the stairs, ready for when he’s lured you back to his house. So vigilance here is especially important. Here’s the drill:

  • Text a friend with his address straight away, let him know that you’re doing this.
  • Send your friend a link to his dating profile, his real name, and a picture of him if possible.
  • Ask your friend to call you in a few hours. Give them a set time, and make sure your date knows you’ll be expecting a phone call.

Now here’s the key part, so listen very closely: you should not at any point believe that any of this stuff is excessive or overly paranoid. It is not – this is completely normal, sensible, and wise. Recommend to your date that they do the same thing.

These precautions are as necessary as using a condom for the first fuck. As important as wearing a fucking seatbelt or looking both ways when you cross the road.

If at any point your date makes you feel bad or odd about being careful, hop on the first bus to fuckoffsville and don’t ever see them again.

Fun GOTN fact: None of the guys I have ever been on dates with have questioned any of this. 


  • Russ says:

    “lunge adorably ” I must practice this.

  • Janey says:

    I was once arranging to meet an internet guy for the first time. When I refused to meet him at his house as requested, he said ok I’ll come to yours. I gently pointed out this wasn’t a good idea for both our safety, at which point he ranted at me that I must really hate men and how upset he was that I presumed he was a rapist. Ah well.

    • girlonthenet says:

      While I wouldn’t want to judge whether this guy was actually shady, he certainly does sound like a top-shelf arsehole. Lucky escape!

      • Janey says:

        I think that’s what annoyed me. I wasn’t judging him either, just trying to avoid either of us being in a difficult situation on a first date. How did he know that if we’d met at his or my house and it hadn’t gone well, that I wasn’t the sort of loon to accuse him of something. (I’m not!). Just common sense I thought, not an assumption of his character.

  • This is a great article. I’ve just re-entered the world of dating after a long time and although I’m savvy things have definitely changed in the intervening years. Lots of good advice here, thanks!

  • Chaz says:

    I’ve been meeting people online on and off for the last decade or so. I always e-mail the details of the guy I’m meeting to a friend and let the guy know in no uncertain terms that I’ve done so. I’m always vague about where I work until I’ve dated a guy two or three times, as it would be far too easy for people to track me down.

    I used to invite guys back to mine once I’d vetted them to my satisfaction, however after one guy whose “flat mate” turned out to be his girlfriend and he told her where I lived, so she turned up on my doorstep (WT actual F?!) and I had to call the cops to get rid of her, I no longer accommodate.

    The very first guy I met online, who seemed very normal until our third date, then pulled my hair and bit me on the stomach for no reason other than he “thought I’d like it” taught me to be very wary of people. I gave him his marching orders and never saw him again. Weirdo!

    Last year I chatted to a guy who went from suggesting “let’s meet for drinks in a bar”, to “let’s have a romantic picnic”, to “let’s meet in a remote country lane in the pouring rain” over a few conversations, which had my alarm bells ringing. I didn’t meet him and had to block him on the dating site. I polled my Twitter friends, “Would you meet a total stranger in a remote country lane on a first date?” and, to my shock and surprise, several of my female followers said they would and had done so on more than one occasion. All of the men said “Don’t forget to take a shovel in case he’s forgotten his(!)”

    I’ve never been so desperate for a shag that I’ll put my personal safety at risk. If a guy won’t send me a recent photo, we don’t meet. If he won’t give me his mobile number, we don’t meet. If he has a problem with the fact that he can’t come back to mine, we don’t meet (as he’s probably got a wife or gf at home!).

    I’ve been told that I have too many rules. If a guy thinks my rules are excessive, then he’s not for me. My safety is my main priority, not getting my end away – I can do that any time. Better safe than sorry.

  • vpalanirajan says:

    I want to fuck you

  • Sarah says:

    There’s no underestimating the potential for insanity of strangers.

    I met a guy on a chat site while I was at uni – we were friends, no funny business. I made a bunch of friends, in fact, including a guy I fell madly in love with. Nothing sexual ever happened. It was a complex situation and honestly I’d be far too embarrassed about my naïveté to tell you exactly what the situation was, I cringe just thinking about it now. A few times I was set up by one or other of them, which brought my world crashing down as I figured I’d lost any chance with the guy I thought I loved. This one guy was a good shoulder and we got on well but no more.

    Anyway, I left uni and no longer had constant or even regular internet access and I lost touch with all these people. They didn’t know my full name, only my first name – that was it.

    A few years later, I had this “fridge” thing on MySpace where people could use “fridge magnets” to leave messages on my page. Every now and then, an insult would appear. These would get nastier and nastier. Random men would send me pictures of their cocks – when I would reply asking what the fuck they were doing, they told me I asked for it. My husband figured out how to capture the IP address – we reported the person not knowing who it was, but it stopped.

    Later, I was diagnosed with an incurable illness and found a forum for it which was my lifeline. Suddenly some of the people there started being really nasty to me. Then one woman registered and was vile, and I noticed something weird about their profile gif. When I looked more closely, it was flashing between a normal picture of something and a heavily doctored photo of me that looked like a prop from John Doe’s flat in Se7en.

    I was absolutely terrified and it took over my whole life. Every time I walked home from the station I would panic that he could be following me. I’d just heard about a gaming forum where one of the members found and murdered the woman who ran it, then pretended like nothing had happened. I was so scared.

    Eventually after lots of threats and reports, it just stopped. This was 8 years ago and I’m still nervous that he might pop up again. Part of the fear was that I just didn’t understand what he wanted and what the aim was – it just seemed insane that he could care this much. The one time I sent him a message and he replied, he said it was because he had been a good friend to me and then I’d dropped him, but it wasn’t like that. The whole thing was just so surreal.

    I still don’t know what the original situation was – whether the guy I loved was real but lying about who he was, or just another character created by this guy. My instinct tells me that ALL the people I was talking to were the one guy, but as I would speak to several at the same time, I don’t know if that’s possible. In the end, the guy I loved pretended that, due to some imagined sleight on my part, he had fallen in love with the girl I was friends with – it didn’t make any sense, it was truly odd.

    Anyway, so yes. Be wary. I’m inclined to think the best of people but I learned a big lesson there. I’m only relieved that they didn’t have more of my details – but how he tracked me down again years later to a random site is anyone’s guess. Scary stuff.

    Also, wearing a condom for a first fuck? You should wear one for every fuck until you see a current clear range of tests, unless you have a death wish. I have a friend who has HIV after abandoning condoms after a month or so with a nice, middle class Oxbridge graduate. It happens. Protect yourself and don’t believe any lines. They genuinely may not know what they have. Condom-less sex is not so much better that it’s worth risking your life over.

    Lastly, I’d consider editing this part:
    “Neither should you really invite internet strangers to your house unless you know them well”

    The danger with online friends is that you may think you know them well but you only know what they share. It’s impossible to know an internet stranger well, at all. You should never give these people any traceable details or knowledge of your personal life. Any decent person will understand this and be equally cautious. I’m not saying everyone online is a stalker or a murderer, but they definitely don’t wear a sign!

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