Why a dating safety guide?
dating as a non-monogamous person does look different than monogamous dating. sometimes you may go on dates where multiple people are present, and a nightcap may be at the home of a person whose spouse or significant other is in another room. these require different types of plans to activate in the case of an emergency. trans women and cis women should take extra care due to targeted violence that may manifest in s-xual assaults, s-x trafficking, and more.
Do a background check.*
if someone is willing to meet you for the pretense of possibly dating you - they should be comfortable with at least giving their first and last name. while nothing can replace a background check, they are not always affordable. some can be as little as $20 per check; others are attached to expensive subscriptions. do not be afraid to use search engines - including arrest records and the national s-x offender registry - to do some research on your date(s). take your time doing this; sometimes, things don't appear on search engines until the second page. if they have a criminal history that concerns you, ask about it BEFORE you go on a date. if someone has a history of violence and s-xual crime, is this someone you want to be alone with? *this is not foolproof as some people have changed their names, had records expunged, or may give you an alias.
Be your own ride.
whether you believe chivalry is relevant to your gender and dating or not - be your own ride at least the first few times. riding in someone else's car is dangerous, especially if there are multiple people you are seeing. you are at a disadvantage if something happens. if they are adamant about making sure you are chauffeured, they can pay for your Uber, Lyft, or rental. if they seem aggressive about driving you, take that as your first red flag. beware of someone who doesn't value your boundary to ensure your safety.
Stick to the plan.
spontaneous people - stick to the plan. if the plan you decided on for the date was karaoke and dinner, do just that. changing the plan could be a domino effect and change everything else that evening, putting you at risk of not being aware of your surroundings or being able to prepare for them. if you have to change your plans, let a trusted person know.
sometimes for a first date, you may be meeting a couple. remember that if a couple is predatorial, you may not find that until you are alone with them. some couples may use one partner to disarm and distract you. that same person may also be very charismatic and influential. keep in mind that some may weaponize the trust given to women as well if they are a het couple. one way to combat/prevent this is to keep your things close to you. sometimes people will take your personal items away to delay your ability to leave. if one of them suggests something to do outside of the plans and the other
"gently" encourages you to stick to your plan. if you know a person you are looking to date is coupled but choose to go on a date with only one of them, but their partner is present on the date, this is a red flag. if your date is at their home, make sure your car is not blocked in the driveway. don't hang your keys up on a hook; keep them on you.
Regulate the alcohol.
if you have a poor relationship with alcohol you probably should not drink on these dates. drinking usually means you cannot drive. be aware that some people will fill up your cup whenever they see it empty. you are not obligated to finish any drink someone orders or pours for you. know your limit. try to stick to drinks you are familiar with and pace yourself between drinks.
The Backup Plan.
a backup plan could be used for emergencies or when you feel uncomfortable continuing the date. it could be vocalizing that you have plans with a partner or friend after the date to keep the date on track for time and to let them know someone is waiting for you. this person can also call you in an emergency. it could be sending a code word to a trusted person to get or call you. it may be feigning an upset stomach so you can leave.