My junior high school teacher was right when she promised that college would be one of the best times of life. For many, going away to school provides the first real taste of independence. Navigating a new city without parents, restrictive rules or a curfew can be an adventure. Having fun partying and dating is most often a part of the experience. New responsibilities come with new freedom and can be a lot to handle. Here are a few simple rules to keep in mind and keep you safe while basking in your new found liberation.
Introduce & Inspect: When going out with someone new, be sure that someone besides you has met your date and can give an accurate description of them, if needed. My roommates and I not only used to meet each other’s dates, but we’d interrogate them by asking a dozen questions like, where the guy worked and where he was from. We’d even go as far as to ask to see some ID and write down license plate numbers before letting a new guy ride off with our roomie.
Group Date: In college, I was definitely more inclined to invite a friend to tag along on a date or find a friend to partner up with one of his friends when things were new. Grab an available girlfriend and make it a social outing to allow you and your girls to get more familiar with him and what he’s about.
Develop a buddy system: One of the benefits of having roommates in college is that regardless of how close the relationship is, if one of you happens to go missing (which is what we want to avoid) it is likely to be noticed. There is general sense of accountability that comes along with living with another person. At the very least, develop a system of leaving notes or calling when you are going to be away longer than you normally would. If you and your housemates loathe one another, then designate someone outside of your place to update your whereabouts.
Get out early: Lunch dates kind of provide the perfect setting for getting to know someone new in an unfamiliar city. Its daylight and lunch typically take place in well-populated establishments. There is no rule that says you have to only date at night. There are plenty more hours in the day.
Avoid personal space: Going to a stranger’s home on the first date can possibly open the door for some undue familiarity. Public spaces are a safe bet. You can even take it a step further by driving yourself and meeting your date out if you don’t feel comfortable inviting them to your place in the beginning.
If you’re going to drink, follow the standard drinking rules: It’s pretty common advice to keep an eye on your drink when out at the bar or club. And make sure you see what was put into your cup before it gets handed to you from the bartender. 70% of sexual assaults reported by adolescents and college age females were with someone that they were dating. Date rape drugs are serious and unfortunately an all too common problem on college campuses. Further, getting wasted on a date, especially with someone you do not know well, is probably not the best idea. If you plan to drink, make sure that you eat enough, know your limit and stay hydrated with water between alcoholic beverages.
Check in: Once your date is over, check in. There are so many ways to communicate these days, if you do not directly check in with a friend or roommate, do so by posting an update on a social network. Saying goodnight, even if it is just to the Twitterverse, ensures that there is a time frame of reference for when you settled in for the night.
A part of growing into adulthood is becoming more responsible. Don’t make people worry over you unnecessarily. Have fun, party hard, but stay safe.