Stay safe this snuggle season

Laureen Horan

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The leaves are turning, the temperature is dropping and soon enough there will be snow everywhere. It’s officially “cuffing season,” a term used to describe the time of year when people are most likely to get into relationships. After all, the snow is a lot more bearable when you’ve got someone to snuggle up to during those long, winter nights. 

Most people use social media or dating apps in an effort to find their new beau or snuggle buddy. With 50 million users on Tinder alone (according to the site’s statistics), these apps can be a great way to meet people. My own relationship of the last six years started on Facebook, so I know it’s possible. However, I’ve noticed that a lot of people my age, particularly women, have become less cautious with these apps as they should be. 

When presented with hundreds of smiling selfies, or perhaps some cute pet photos as well, anyone can seem like a perfectly decent person. Most are, I’d like to think. However, just because you’ve caught a glimpse into someone’s life or talked to them for a couple days doesn’t necessarily mean you should be willing to forgo a lot of personal information about yourself. 

According to RAINN.org, someone in America is a victim of sexual violence every 98 seconds. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but we all need to think twice before sharing specific details about where we live, work and spend a lot of free time with someone who we don’t actually know well. 

Tinder is widely regarded by most as a “hook-up” app where users (generally, not always) are hoping to find a person to have a sexual encounter with. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it’s not wise to let yourself be too vulnerable in a community of people who are likely trying to have sex with you. 

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, stalking happens. Intimidation and threats happen. Rape happens. There are proactive measures that people can take when they enter the online dating scene to keep themselves safe. 

  • Have your first date in public in the middle of the day. Go out for lunch or coffee in an area where you can be visible. If someone is persistent about being in a private place the first time they meet you, consider it a red flag. 
  • Tell someone you trust what you’re doing and where you’ll be. By letting someone else know where you’re going, you’re giving yourself a guardian who can help you if something goes wrong. 
  • Be cautious of sending lewd and nude photos. It’s 2018, I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but there’s nothing wrong with exercising some caution before trusting someone with private photos of yourself. 
  • Be cautious of who you bring home. An online date gone wrong could not only affect you, but the people you live with if a creep knows exactly where you live. 
  • If you happen to have mutual friends with the person you intend to meet, reach out to them and see what they know about that person’s character. 
  • Consider investing in pepper spray to ward off potential attacks without having to put up too much of a fight.

Again, I’m not trying to scare anyone, but remember that you can’t always read a person just based off of their selfies and dating profiles. Keep yourself safe and remember that you can always reach out to friends, family, GVPD or the Grand Valley Victim’s Advocate if you ever feel threatened or harassed.