14 Important ENM Dating Safety Tips
There are many emotions that can come with ENM dating. For some, it can be an anxiety-ridden experience, for others, it can be confusing, yet others are able to sail through like pros. What many people don’t think about when it comes to dating, however, is safety.
The truth is that dating can turn into your worst nightmare if you don’t take the necessary safety precautions to protect yourself and your space. So, you’ve been chatting with a person for weeks or you met them through a mutual friend and you feel it’s time to meet in person. While you might think that this is someone you’ve gotten to know for some time, meeting them in person actually means you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable to someone you barely know.
We’ve all taken a few risks when it comes to finding love and fulfillment in relationships. However, some risks we take can put us in physical, emotional, mental, and even financial danger. “Crimes within relationships occur more frequently than crimes committed by strangers and can be just as psychologically and physically devastating.” (modelmugging.org)
With that being said, we’ve put together 14 ENM Dating Safety tips you can follow that will help you date safely. Keep in mind though these are only ENM dating safety tips – always (and we do mean always) use your best judgment and put your personal safety first in all that you do.
Table of Contents
Staying Safe Online
Don’t exchange personal information
When you’re first connecting or dating online, the first thing you want to do is be careful about the username you pick. The name you choose for yourself online shouldn’t give any indication to who you are in real life. Don’t indicate your year of birth or your surname. Other information that you should always keep private is your email address, your address, phone number, and where you work.
“I learned the hard way about not sharing private information online when I accidentally mentioned where I live, and the person I was chatting with one day mentioned in passing twice, that ‘they were in my neighborhood. Needless to say, I now veer off conversations that would lead me to leak any private info”- Dave
Don’t leave the app
Until the day you feel safe about meeting the other person, utilize the messaging function on the ITL ENM app. If anyone asks you to email them, asks for your number, or puts in requests to message you on WhatsApp, don’t agree to that. Politely let them know that getting off the app isn’t something you aspire to do until you felt safe with them. The ITL ENM app gives you recourse if something goes sideways or something doesn’t feel right and you need help – you can simply report a conversation or a user or reach out to our support team and we will do our best to help you get to the bottom of things.
Watch what you say
It’s always a good thing to think about what you’d like to say before you say it. If it’s something you wouldn’t talk about in the physical presence of this person when you first meet, then you shouldn’t talk about it online. Language and thoughts these days (as we have seen over the last few years) are extremely important and can be incendiary. Get to know a person and what their core values are to see if yours align. Sometimes it’s a good idea to be a little guarded at the beginning.
Trust your instincts
Your gut will always have something to tell you when something doesn’t feel right. Even if the other person doesn’t seem like they could be a scammer or doesn’t even talk about themselves much, if things don’t feel right, chances are that they aren’t. Always be cautious and trust your gut. If they’re telling you something that you’re not sure of, talk to a friend or someone you trust and get advice from them.
“I’m bisexual. One time, I was talking to this girl I thought would be a great match. However, when she started talking about seeking a ‘third’ to join her and her partner, I knew something was up. It turns out she was looking for a ‘unicorn’ and I hated the idea of being fetishized like that”- Amaya
Sharing your pictures
It isn’t unheard of for a potential lover to ask you to send photos of yourself. Heck, the ITL ENM chat function makes it really easy to do it! But be careful of the photos you choose to share on your profile or privately with other people. Make sure the photos you share are ones that if they do go past the person seeing them you feel secure about others potentially seeing them as well. We always say that once its posted to social, it could potentially be seen by the world for perpetuity. This isn’t just important on the ITL ENM App but is important in any ENM Dating Safety situation even if its a mainstream social network. We strongly suggest for your ENM dating safety to NEVER use networks like Facebook for more than they are designed for – you do and will run the risk of being banned or being outed.
Get to know the other person
Before you make the step to meet this other person, you should get to know them a little more. By making time to get to know a little about each other, you can have an idea of who they are, whether there’s anything in common between you, and whether there’s a possibility of them being a good match. Remember in ENM dating safety to not to talk about the intricate details of your life until you feel you can trust them.
Look them up
It is now possible to do a Google reverse image search of the person you’ve been talking to so you can see if they’re truly who they say they are. Once you’re on the Google search results page, check whether this person has a profile on LinkedIn or Facebook. While this might seem a like stalking, we assure you, it is not. They’re most likely doing the same with your picture because they also want to know who you really are. Seek out referrals if you have mutual connections and ask others in the lifestyle if they have met the person in real life and what their thoughts are about them. People WANT to share safety thoughts with you as they want to have the same open sharing when they are looking for it. Anyone who you are asking about that is a legitimate ENM person will understand as they “get it” and know how important ENM dating safety is.
I will always see which friends we have in common online, or events they’ve attended and ask trusted members of the community if they have any impressions. Good people very rarely get a bad reputation. But bad behaviour will always get outed pretty quickly and for good reason. – Elle
Plan for any risks
Remember that not all online dating services can verify their user’s identity or do a background check even though we do our best and actively look at our members ENM dating safety online. This is where you have to do the work and research on your own. Trust your instincts, and make sound decisions before you decide to meet up with the other person. Have a plan and a system in place with your existing network before that first meeting!
Meeting In Person
Meet them in a public place
The first rule of thumb in ENM dating safety is meeting a potential lover is to meet them in a public place. Meeting them in a public place better ensures that you’re safe. When there are people around, your date isn’t likely to try and do anything that will put you in danger and cast suspicion on them. You definitely don’t want to meet someone in their home or in a very secluded area. A good place to meet someone for the first time would be a café, a restaurant, or a busy bar. Remember not to meet too near or too far from your home. The ideal place should be easy to get to and easy to get away from.
If it’s a first meeting, I will only meet in a public setting. It gives both of us easy ways to walk away. Also, no digits until I meet someone face to face. – Tara
Casual is the way to go
When meeting someone for the first time, you want to keep the date as casual as possible. Ideal first dates shouldn’t take too much of your time. You can meet for a drink or coffee. This way, either of you can end the date easily. If both of you are having a good time, you can easily extend the date to lunch or dinner. Meeting someone for dinner for the first time can become a heavy experience if you find that you don’t click, which makes things a little weird. In addition to this, something casual like a drink or coffee is likely to ease up the experience and help you both be comfortable around each other.
Tell a friend or someone you trust exactly where you’re going
Before you go out on the date, make sure there’s someone who knows exactly where you are and who you’re going to meet. If there are any last-minute changes to the plan, let your friend know about that as well. Let your friend know once the date is over. It’s also a good idea to tell them once you get home. Arrange to receive a ‘fake emergency call’ from your friend if the date makes you uncomfortable or you feel that they aren’t safe to be around. If anything happens, your friend could be your lifeline.
I have a SmartWear charm that I bring. If I double click on the back of it a text with a link to my exact location is sent to a few pre selected friends letting them know I need support. – Michelle
Do not leave your drink unattended
Well, this one is a little self-explanatory, but just in case it isn’t… Not everyone you meet out there has good intentions towards you. The easiest way for someone to take advantage of you during your date is to spike your drink when they think you aren’t watching. We have even heard that spiked drinks can be an issue at some lifestyle clubs so ensure you are always aware of your ENM Dating Safety regardless of the environment.
While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a few drinks during a date, it’s also vital to ensure that you drink within your limit. If your date is drinking and you don’t want to, don’t. You don’t have to succumb to the pressure. Alcohol can cloud your judgment so be moderate where it’s concerned.
If a situation makes you uncomfortable, let a waiter or bartender know. They can call the police, get you a safe ride, or create a distraction so you can get out of that situation.
As a guy we take our personal safety for granted. It’s also good to share contact info with a friend or partner for new meet ups as drugs can be administered so easily. And if you are meeting a new person and you get a feeling something is off it usually is so run. – Jasen
Sort out your own transport
It’s better to have your own transport to and from the date. Being prepared and preplanning your ENM dating safety in this way ensures that you don’t have to rely on your date to take you home whenever you feel uncomfortable. You’re also not at their mercy if they decide that they want to continue the date without your approval. If you can’t drive yourself, rather than asking a stranger to pick and drop you, ask a friend to do it or call a ride-share app. In addition to this, it would be best to ensure that your phone has enough charge beforehand so that you can reach someone in case of an emergency.
Leave if you feel uncomfortable
Remember that throughout the date, your safety should be your priority. If anything about your date makes you feel uneasy, uncomfortable, or unsafe, you should leave, do not worry about how it might look or how they might feel, it’s about you and your ENM dating safety and comfort. Don’t feel guilty about leaving your date ahead of time. You might feel embarrassed about it, but that’s ok. Make an excuse, or even tell the truth and leave. You can also text a trusted friend and ask for support in your exit. You can meet someone and realize a few minutes later that there’s no connection. Simply remember that you don’t have to spend time with someone if you don’t feel safe with them or aren’t interested in them.