Ten Tips for Safe Flirting
In This Chapter
^ Protecting your identity ^ Meeting safely ^ Having a plan B ^ Protecting yourself our mother told you never to speak to strangers, but now you're an adult you can just adopt safe strategies when flirting and dating. Always keep safety in the back of your mind whilst flirting, but don't worry about it so much that it prevents you from enjoying it. Be aware of these ten top tips to ensure that you can flirt with gay abandon and remain safe in the process.
Withhold Personal Information
Giving any of your key personal details away on an Internet site, or when corresponding with people you haven't met, is always a bad idea, particularly if you end up deciding you aren't interested in meeting them in person or you don't want to see them again.
In any scenario where you don't know the individual you're flirting with, keep your work and home email address, postal address, and telephone numbers to yourself.
Set up a free email address to use until you know them well enough to trust them with your personal contact details. If you're dating several people at once, invest in a pay-as-you-go mobile phone sim card so you have a separate telephone number for dates.
If you're having a chance encounter flirting with a stranger and you or they want to meet, ask for their number so that you can control the flow of information and contact.
Arrange to Meet in a Public Place
Before speaking to your date about arranging a venue to meet, consider the following tips to pick the perfect spot for your flirting encounter and to ensure you meet as safely as possible:
✓ Never let a new date pick you up from your home or work address.
✓ Always meet in a public place.
✓ Pick a venue where you know lots of people will be around.
Take Your Flirting Slowly a\ng/
Pacing your flirtation is important, particularly if you're flirting with someone from the office or a client. If your date has had a drink it may have loosened their inhibitions and they may want to move things on a bit faster than you're ready for.
Don't be rushed into anything. Flirting is a game for two people: if you're not playing, then they're harassing.
If you feel that they're moving too fast and you want to slow down, lessen eye contact and use the barrier technique (see Chapter 11) to put some space between you. If these hints still don't slow them down, put your backup plan into action. See the later section 'Have an Emergency Plan B'.
Drink with Caution
You don't drink and drive and you should apply the same health warning to flirting. Accepting drinks from strangers can be dangerous because they're easy to spike.
If you must accept a drink:
✓ Watch the bar staff pour it and take it from them directly.
✓ Ask for drinks in bottles and keep your thumb over the top.
✓ Never leave your drink unattended.
✓ Don't ask for a type of drink that you're unused to, because you won't be able to tell whether you feel peculiar simply because it's more potent than you're used to or because it's been spiked.
If you think your drink has been spiked, inform one of the bar staff immediately and ask them to call a friend to arrange your safe passage home.
Watch What You Say
Discretion is the better part of valour. You have no way of guaranteeing what you say isn't going to go any further. So don't say anything about anyone that you wouldn't say to their face or that you wouldn't like said about you. This advice is particularly important if you're dating someone from work or who belongs to your circle of friends.
SUNG/ If somebody's using excessive sexy talk or innuendo, don't laugh or smile politely if their words are making you uncomfortable. They may mistakenly think you're enjoying their banter and are ready to take things further.
Listen with Your Gut
Your gut has more nerve endings than your brain, so if you're clenched up, it's probably trying to tell you something. Victims of attack have often reported that they were aware of their gut instinct cutting in - but ignored it.
If you have a gut feeling something's wrong, don't take any chances. Make your excuses and leave.
Keep Friends on Standby
Your friends care about you so they'll be more than happy to be on hand to check on you or bail you out. Ask a friend to call you at the beginning of the evening to check you've arrived safely and met your date and again at the end to check you're home safely.
Have pre-prepared text messages ready on your mobile phone to send to your friends if things don't go to plan and you need to be bailed out. Pre-arrange that they'll come and pick you up and get you home safely.
Find Your Own Way Home
Even if you've had a great time together, don't be tempted to share a cab or a lift home. Save an invitation back for coffee for when you know the other person better and both parties' intentions and agendas are clear.
Pre-book a cab or arrange to travel home with friends after a date.
Have an Emergency Plan B
Follow the boy scouts and always be prepared. If you feel cornered in a situation you may feel anxious, vulnerable, and out of control. Having an emergency 'Plan B' is really only necessary in extreme circumstances, but having it up your sleeve keeps you flirting confidently and safely.
ëIn preparation for any time that you don't feel comfortable, have an emergency text ready on your mobile phone to send to a friend for them to ring you in five minutes, and the number for a local cab firm so you can make a quick getaway. You can send a draft text easily from inside your handbag or pocket, or if you have to get away, quickly and discreetly call a cab from the toilet.
Knowing how to defend yourself makes you feel more self-assured; it also boosts your confidence. Get yourself along to your local martial arts or self-defence class - you may even meet someone you fancy there!
In the unlikely and unfortunate event that you're attacked, scream 'Fire' as loudly as possible. Apparently, people are more likely to respond to this cry than anything else. A personal alarm may be useful to momentarily alarm your attacker and give you the chance to escape.
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