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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Amusement Park First Date

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.

 


Amusement Park First Date

In this installment, I’ll respond to several questions from one source that can be addressed in a snappy, pointed way. As always, feel free to email me with your comments and questions. We want to hear from you and give you answers to issues that are on your mind right now!

I met someone online. We have talked on the phone 3 times now for a couple hours each time. I really like him and so we decided to meet at an amusement park during a week day.  A couple questions for you, if the date goes well we would obviously leave the park at the same time. Leaving at the same time…

#1. How do I avoid a potential threat when I am walking to my car in a parking lot?

There are a few tactics you can use to increase your safety. First and foremost, be vigilant about your surroundings no matter how well the first meeting goes. Allow the person to leave first, so you can watch them as you go to your own car. You don’t necessarily need to walk to your car alone; many restaurants or coffee shops will offer to have someone walk you to your car. Before you start walking to your car alone or with an escort, have your keys out and in hand. The last thing you want is to fumble in your purse or pockets for your keys if you feel in any trouble. Some automatic door openers (electronic keys) also have a crisis button. This button causes your car to sound the horn (much like a car alarm) and alert others that you need help. Also, have your mobile phone in hand as well. Some people even call a friend as they are walking to their car, in case an escort is not available. This thought is right, but talking to someone can leave you less vigilant to your surroundings. Finally, before you come up too close to your car, look under the car on the driver’s side. This might sound odd, but this tip comes from a close friend of mine who happens to be a security expert and a martial artist. Predators can hide under the car and make a move as you are actually in the process of getting into the car and have your guard down.

#2. I still don’t know his last name, should I get this before I date him or wait till after our first date? If I ask for it before the date then he may want mine in return....

I guess this really depends on your comfort level, but it’s always a good idea to gather as much information about a person before meeting them offline. Of course, short of a background check, nothing really guarantees that the last name given to you is legitimate anyway. All of this said, I would ask your date for his last name at least before going on a second date. One clever tip passed along to me by a vigilant online dater is to ask to see the person’s driver’s license or other type of photo ID upon meeting them so that you “will feel safe and relieved to know that you’re meeting the right person.” Looking at the photo ID, you can see if the person matches their photo and at the same time, you can glance to see the person’s full name without asking for it out loud. The downside to this approach is that your date may want to see your ID as well. This can be unsafe if your ID lists your home address, etc. In this instance, simply show your ID while covering your address with your fingers.

#3. Is an amusement park during the week a busy and safe enough place? I'm assuming as long as it's in public it doesn't really matter.

Well, yes and no.  Public places are best for safety, but it’s also crucial to choose a place that’s familiar to you or, at least, choose a place that’s in an area or neighborhood that’s familiar to you. Not only will you feel more at ease being on the “home field,” but it also adds to your safety because you’ll know what resources are available to you in case you need help or assistance. One last bit of advice, never stay so long at the place (whatever it is) that you “close it down.”  Rather, leave when a crowd is leaving.

 

Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.


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