First dates and staying safe

Male and female eating ice creams - dating advice on staying safe when on a date
Male and female eating ice creams - dating advice on staying safe when on a date

First dates and staying safe

So you’ve spent days, maybe weeks, chatting to someone online and have decided to take the plunge and meet in person. How exciting!

I remember discussing with my mum that I’d be meeting up with someone I met on Match.com. “Just be careful”, she warned.

I dated when I was 30-32 and was what I would call a responsible grown adult. But it didn’t stop my mum from worrying.

Obviously she wasn’t keen on the idea of me meeting with random strangers so she gave me a few pearls of wisdom that I’d like to share with you. They may seem obvious but are definitely worth remembering.

A few first date safety rules

1. Meet in the daytime and in public

Not everyone gets creeped out in the dark, especially on their own, but I do. Yep, I’m scared of the dark. I feel way safer in daylight.

So I always made sure I had my first date, or first few dates during the day, somewhere like Wollaton Park, or a local cafe.

Not only did being in public made me feel extra safe, the people watching made for a very good conversation.

2. Don’t drink too much alcohol

That tipsy feeling can lead to letting your guard down. Enjoy a drink, sure, but don’t over do it.

Stick to a couple of drinks and stay aware. Not only will you remain in full control, you won’t fall over pissed up – never an attractive trait!

3. Tell someone where you’re going

I always told my mum and at least one friend who I was meeting, where we were going and at what time. This made me feel really safe and kept mother happy too.

4. Three rings

Mum always asked me to drop call her (is that what you still call it?) Or send her a quick text to let her know I got there and that he wasn’t some weirdo, which of course, they never were (I vigorously vetted everyone I dated haha).

So in summary:

  • be sensible
  • meet in daylight
  • don’t get drunk
  • tell people where you’re going and when (and that you’re home safe)

But most of all, have fun.

You may be wondering why I’ve not listed safe sex as one of my first-date safety rules. That’s because I always followed the three date rule (minimum).

Please share any tips you have on staying safe for all those new daters out there.

My Plenty Of Fish Experience

Fish in the sea - Plenty of Fish dating advice
Fish in the sea - Plenty of Fish dating advice

My Plenty of Fish Experience

I used a plethora of dating apps during my single life, however, Plenty of Fish (POF) is the app I used most. Aside from it being free, there were loads of local guys I could potentially get to know. With a reported 90 million users on Plenty of Fish (source: The Sun) the search was certainly on! 

Here’s a list of all the dating apps I’ve tried: 

First dates with Plenty of Fish

I’m not ashamed to say it – I had handfuls of first dates with men I’d met on Plenty of Fish. Knowing instantly with some that there’d be no 2nd date. I could normally tell within 30 seconds or so whether the date was going to go well or not.

I always felt a little nervous before a first date particularly at the start of my journey as a singleton. But after meeting a few men, dating became familiar and easier. And I quickly started to learn what I did/didn’t want in a partner.

I always opted for a busy bar (or similar) for a first date. Not only for a drop of Dutch courage, but because there were other people around, creating a ready-made atmosphere.  

My mum liked to know I was safe, so I’d always tell her the who, where and when of my dating adventures. Just to put her at ease. I don’t think she was entirely comfortable with her daughter meeting up with random strangers. I can understand why – can you ever be entirely sure who you’re meeting? Safety first people! 

Some men made it clear from the outset that they were in it for sex and sex only. Something casual – a brief encounter. And were quite blunt about it. Intentional one-night-stands weren’t really my style. Adopt the Third Date Rule at least! 

With most men, however, they were genuinely wanting to meet their forever partner. Someone who completes them.  

What happens at the end of your first Plenty of Fish date 

Do you arrange a 2nd date? Share a kiss? Go home with your date? 

I’ll leave that for you to decide for yourself.  

I could talk until I’m blue in the face about my dating experience but I don’t want to cram it all into one blog – there will more to come from me on this! 

What I looked for in a person

Once you’ve decided to try online dating, you need to be clear (ish) about what you’re looking for in a partner, or, for want of a better word, fling.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted in terms of longevity but could confidently say that if I met someone I clicked with I’d be up for more dates to see where things led.
Here are the top things that were on my hit list: 

1. Ambitious and driven

Being a business owner, I’ve always found drive and ambition really great traits to have. People tend to be more interesting and creative, in my opinion. It’s always good to know that people will work hard for what they want.

2. Talkative

I’m a talker! Which is kind of essential being a dating profile photographer.  It was really important to me when dating that guys could hold a conversation. And an interesting one.

3. Nice face

And no. I don’t mean jaw-droppingly gorgeous – I’m not shallow! By nice face, I wanted someone that looked approachable and had a twinkle in their eyes or a quirky expression. Someone who’s face lit up when they laughed or spoke about something they loved.

4. Tall

I’ve always been attracted to tall men. Most of the men I dated were over 6 feet tall. My partner, is 6’2”. I like that I can rest my head on his chest and reach on my tiptoes to give him a kiss – it’s cute, right?

You’ll find that as you date more men, your criteria changes. You learn new things about yourself and discover things that you like in other people. Don’t be afraid to date someone who isn’t what you’d normally go for. Variety is the spice of life and all!

Plenty of Fish likes and dislikes

I met most of my dates through POF had more 2nd and 3rd dates through than with any other app. Here’s what I liked/disliked about the app.

What I liked about Plenty of Fish 

  • POF is free but there’s an option to upgrade if you wish.   
  • Single’s get one line beside their profile picture to entice people to read more. 
  • There were more guys within 10-miles than on any other app – I didn’t want to travel far! 
  • You know when people are online so you can strike up a live conversation.  
  • You get a quick glance at people’s vital statistics.  

What I disliked about Plenty of Fish

  • I’m not a huge fan of the POF branding or dated layout of the app and website. 
  • I’d bump into people in the street that I’d been on dates with. But I guess you get this with any app if you keep it as local as I did! 

Share your story

I’d love to hear about your Plenty of Fish experiences. If you’d be happy to share your stories in exchange for some professional dating profile photos, get in touch.

View my dating profile photography portfolio

Why I became a Dating Profile Photographer

Two stones with love heart
Two stones with love heart

Why I became a Dating Photographer

“Do these people actually expect me to view their profile”?

This is something I remember saying to myself all the time, spending hours on hours scrolling through potential matches on Tinder and Plenty of Fish.

Two years of research

I spent two exciting years in the dating game—and they flew by. I’d been in a long-term relationship for five years, but it ended abruptly and left me unsure of where my future lay.

It’d been years since I’d done the whole dating thing, and I was a bit nervous about what to expect. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to meet someone with the intention of settling into a relationship or just meet lots of interesting new people. So I decided to take a stab at online dating.

I now refer to my dating past as “research” because I was trying to find out what I liked and disliked, and what I did or didn’t want in a relationship. Online dating definitely helped me with that!

Catch the eye of potential partners

When I first entered the world of online dating, these thoughts became all too familiar:

  • How old are your photos?
  • Torso on show? Really?
  • How many filters do you need?!
  • You look nothing like your photos!

Now, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, but it’s hard not to when the first thing you see is a photo. Especially if it’s a bit of a questionable one.

When you have only a split second to convince someone to learn more about you, you need to make sure that your profile photos (and especially your primary photo) say the right things and make a great first impression.

Your photos should be

  • eye catching
  • bright
  • bold
  • clear
  • a recent, true likeness of you

Your photos should not be

  • full of your mates
  • taken in the bathroom mirror
  • dull
  • distorted or low quality
  • heavily edited or years old

Your photos should have some personality and capture your true self. Think about what you want to see from someone else’s pics and make sure your own profile delivers! If you invest in some professional photos, you’ll start getting more dates with the right people.