Get to know who you are meeting:
Before you hook up with anyone be sure you get to know them as well as you can. Ask for a face pic, not just the usual shots some people send. If someone is not willing to send a face pic there is usually a reason.
If the conversation seems odd, weird or makes you feel uncomfortable just close the conversation off. Remember those block buttons are there for a reason.
If you think you like the sound of the person exchange phone numbers and have a chat on the phone first. To protect your privacy it’s best practice to share your mobile phone number rather than your home number. Have a chat. If they sound reasonable and you feel comfortable, meeting face to face may be the next step. Don’t be afraid to delay a meeting for another time though. If they are genuinely keen to meet they will be happy to wait.
Make your first meeting some place safe:
For the first meeting it’s a good idea to meet in a public space. This way you can make an exit if you need to.
Cafes are great as there are usually plenty of people around and it’s unlikely that anything bad would happen in a public space.
If you are keen on meeting for sex straight away one option that is safer would be to meet at a sauna or local sex on premise venue. Again, there will be people around if you get into trouble. On the flip side if you feel you are not compatible after meeting there could be other people there you like better!
Before heading off to meet your new friend be sure to either leave a detailed note at home explaining what you are doing, or phoning a friend and letting them know your plans. Some people arrange to have their friend call them at an organized time to check in and make sure everything is OK.
If you live in a big city there is sometimes a chance your mate may know the person you are meeting. Be sure to ask if they have heard anything bad about the person before you meet.
Get to know your new friend before getting adventurous:
Sexual practices like bondage rely strongly on trust. Being tied up on a first meet is not the safest idea. Get to know your partner before you allow them to limit your movement.
One good way to meet new bondage friends is via other friends you know in the scene. By meeting via your friends’ recommendations you can limit the risk of harm to yourself. Again, be sure to get to know your new friends before you get too adventurous.
Remember if at any time you do not feel comfortable you are free to exit. Yes it can be awkward but your safety is important. Go with your gut instincts, they are usually right.
Look after your personal safety
Be sure to pack condoms even if you are not planning on having anal sex. You just never know!
If you invite someone to your home be sure to not leave flashy objects or cash lying around. There is always the risk of them being stolen.
There have been some cases where men have had their drinks spiked and either being assaulted or their house being robbed. Always be sure to keep your drink with you. Try to be there when they are poured or if having beer or soft drink have it from the bottle. If the drink tastes funny leave it or get rid of it one way or another. You just never know.
If you get into trouble be sure to report it:
I agree it can be embarrassing reporting incidents when it comes to online dating. The important thing to remember is that if it’s not reported there is a chance the person could be doing it to another friend of yours.
Reporting incidents is an important key to getting the problem stopped. If you are worried or concerned be sure to bring a friend or support person to be there with you. Remember you are the victim, the police are there to help.
I’m sorry that this update is a bit of a heavy one but given the recent events it’s a pretty important one. Remember to look after your safety while you are out there having fun.
Guys this is a pretty important topic. Be sure to share it with your mates, you just never know who it may help.
Dr George Forgan-Smith is a gay Melbourne GP with a strong interest in male health, mental health and health promotion. Three times a year he takes part in Camp Quality, a charity for children living with cancer, where he is one of the doctors, companions and medical advisors. His website, thehealthybear.com is one of his avenues of education.