Accountabilibuddies! If you’ve never heard of these before, today’s a special day for you. Ok, it’s not that special, but you’re definitely going to learn some valuable information today.
An accountabilibuddy is someone who is a close friend or family member that you ask to keep you accountable. Sometimes this is someone who helps to keep you from doing something or to keep you doing something and sometimes it’s just someone to check in and keep you safe.
The definition what we’re going to be using today is the latter. We’re looking how you can use an accountabilibuddy to make dating online that much safer. Let’s dig into this!
Is Online Dating Unsafe?
The first question we have to ask is whether online dating is unsafe to begin with. Online dating has been around for over 20 years now and is no longer something sketchy that only strange people do. As online dating has moved into the mainstream, safety became heavily accounted for. Online dating sites as an industry have gone out of their way to implement systems and safeguards to make the whole process much safer.
Have they been successful? They most certainly have. That being said, this doesn’t mean that they can account for every potential bad situation or every bad person in the world. Honestly, we can’t expect them too. We can expect them to do the best they can which they certainly have. The rest of the responsibility to keep ourselves safe dating online falls on…well, us. And by us, we mean you. Online dating is very safe, but you have to do your part to actively make sure that you’re as safe as you can be.
The Buddy System
You may have heard of this system before or it may be brand new to you. The online dating buddy system goes like this. You meet someone cool online. You start chatting with them, and you realize that the two of you have a lot in common. You decide you’re ready to take things to the next level and have a first date with this potentially awesome person.
What’s your next step? The next step before you set foot out the door to meet someone you met online is to tell a close friend or family member who you are meeting, where you are meeting them, and when you plan on being home safe. In addition, you need to let this person know that you’re going to call or text them when you get home safe. If they don’t hear from you, they need to be someone who is willing to start harassing you until they know you’re safe. If they can’t get a hold of you, they need to be ready to take the appropriate steps to make sure you’re ok.
Do we think your friend is going to have to call out the search party or contact the police? Most likely they’re not going to have to, and we pray that none of them ever have to. But, doing this makes sure that if something goes wrong, people are going to know sooner than later. Remember, more can go wrong on a first date than just you getting kidnapped or becoming the next main character in a scary Lifetime movie.
Your car could break down. You could get lost and lose your cell phone. You could have a car accident. You could have a medical emergency and end up in the emergency room. We are NOT trying to deter you from dating online or going on dates with new people. All we’re trying to do is be real here and make sure that you’re taking the right precautions. Most likely the person you go on a date with is going to be great, and nothing bad is going to happen, but just in case we want you to be safe.
Let’s Review – Online Dating Safety Best Practices
Yes, it may sound like we’re beating the online dating dead horse here, but we want to make sure that you’re taking this all seriously. We’re talking about something that takes maybe two minutes before you leave and 30 seconds after you get home. Make sure that you tell them as much information as you can about who you are going with, exactly when are where you are planning on going, and what time you plan on going home.
If your plans change during the date, that’s ok! But, you need to update your accountabilibuddy. All you need to do is shoot them a quick text and let them know of the changes. If you’re worried about your date thinking you’re rude using your phone, you can let them know exactly what you’re doing. They better respect the fact that you’re being safe and looking out for your own well-being. If they’re someone who is going to care about you, they should love the fact that you’re willing to go out of your way to keep yourself safe.
The last thing that’s important is that you wait until you are back home by yourself with the door locked before you text your friend that you’re ok. Anything premature to this regardless of how well the date is going is not smart. Make sure that you’re 100% free and clear of your date and home safe before you give the all clear signal.
Should you only do this on your first date? Honestly, we think you should do this on the first several dates. It only takes a couple minutes and can make sure that you and your date are safe. In all seriousness, we all love talking to our friends about our dating life anyways. So, why not use it to keep us safe!
What to Do If You’re Checking In On Your Friend After a Date
If you’re the accountabilibuddy, here’s what you need to know. Don’t call the police if your friend is 30 seconds late getting home from their date. But, if they’re 20 or 30 minutes late, you need to start reaching out to them. The later they are, the more obnoxious and persistent you need to get.
As it starts to get later, you may need to start reaching out via other means like social media. You’ll also want to start reaching out to other friends and family to see if they have heard from them.
Depending on how dependable your friend is will dictate when you need to elevate things to the next level. If they’re someone who never goes out of contact, you’ll want to take things to the next level sooner. If they’re always flaky, slow your roll a bit.
When we say the next level, we mean things like possibly calling the police, calling their close family, or even going to their house or apartment. Remember, when they entrusted you to be their accountabilibuddy, they entrusted you with looking out for them if something might be wrong.
This only takes two minutes to do to keep you and your date safer. Don’t be lazy with your safety. Oh, and if you’re really looking to keep things safe, stick to safe dating apps. You won’t regret it.
Written By: Jason Lee
Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.
His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, NBC, FOX, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.