So we are dating online. We made the decision to make safe choices. We are prepared to keep our private information private. Now we are ready to start interacting with – hopefully – available and worthwhile potential mates. However, we treat every single person as the complete stranger that they really are. Unsafe and abusive people are often easily picked out once you know what you are looking for. Take the time to qualify persons of interest before allowing yourself to become vulnerable or emotionally invested.
- Know What You Want
Making a list of what is negotiable and not negotiable in a potential partner will greatly improve safety. If you are open to everything you may accept anything. Take the time to think about it and become willing to reject unwanted attention immediately. Prep a generic response like,
“I don’t want to waste your time. We aren’t compatible based on my needs. Good luck!”
Absolutely no explanation or response is helpful or required after rejection of a candidate that falls into the “Not Negotiable” category.
- Use Generic Responses
When answering questions, use the already planned out generic responses and pay attention to reactions. Multiple questions about you may be genuine curiosity, but if a person is not accepting or is prying or you feel uncomfortable, that’s a red flag. A normal person will be willing to be patient while you build trust before giving out private details. Belittling, challenging or insulting blatantly shows you they are not respectful and is a sign they are potentially unsafe.
- Share Your Feelings
Share your feelings to see how they respond. Be disagreeable at least once. It doesn’t have to be intentional; an organic opportunity should present itself at some point. A person who tells another they are wrong for feelings or that they should feel differently is disrespectful. Please note when a person is insulting or belittling of your thoughts or feelings. There are safe people who can be disrespectful, or it could also be a sign that they may be an abusive partner.
- Trying Saying No
If you have been turning down unwanted attention, then you may have already noticed some are not accepting of being told “No.” Every explosive response is a bullet dodged. Any person who discredits, discounts, argues or sidesteps your “no” is risky, too. Be sure that the people you are messaging and potentially interested in have the same opportunity to show their true colors, too. This is another time where we are paying attention to their reaction.
- Recognize Risky Behavior
There are typical and telling methods used to keep a potential victim from recognizing survival signals – like discomfort, concern, worry, apprehension. If someone you just met seems too nice, too generous or if they give way too much information or offer a loan, take note and think about how you feel. When someone challenges your character or willingness to take risk, pay attention. Note the mention of violence or physical safety, especially offering a promise of safety, and even in jest. No matter what, trust your gut.
Carrie Conrad is a single mom and self defense specialist in Detroit. To support her daughter and her special needs she took her decades of martial arts training and lifetime of experience with violence to begin an evolving journey with Beating Disaster, a business offering specialized self defense training. From Basic Self Defense to coaching for parents with violent children, she invests her time in high level training in order to provide relatable guidance to women and children. You can find out more at