Sometimes you meet new friends in a safe setting, while during others you might not know them as well. Part of the challenge of friendship is that you need to get to know people, and until you do they are still strangers to you. That shouldn't deter you from making new friends, however. Instead, here are some smart safety tips to keep in mind when hanging out with someone new.
Opt for a Coffee Date Until You Feel Comfortable
A coffee date is a one-hour meeting designed to help you get to know someone better. Online daters use this strategy the first time they meet someone in person after corresponding with them via email. Key points of a coffee date:
- Drive yourself.
- Choose a centrally located place with lots of foot traffic (a coffee shop works best for this).
- Tell the person in advance that you can only meet for an hour.
After your hour is up, go home and reflect back on your time. Do you want to hang out with this person again? The purpose of the coffee date is to help you connect with a new friend in a safe and secure way, which is great if you're introverted, don't know them very well, or are unsure for any reason.
See If Others Know Your New Friend
The world is so connected today, isn't it? Chances are the new person you just met is friends with someone else you know. If that's the case, get a little info on them before you meet so you'll feel more comfortable. You may discover connections you have via Linked In or Facebook, which both show mutual connections. If you find a friend in common, you'll also have an automatic opener in conversation.
Meet Your New Friend Out
Choose an activity where you can meet your online friend there. It's always a good idea to bring your own car when you're meeting someone new, and besides that, driving yourself will give you the freedom to relax so you can focus on getting to know them. A cell phone and money is a good idea to have on you no matter what activity you do.
Be Careful How Much You Share
If you're like me, you meet someone new and instantly trust them. But that isn't a good thing to do, because not everyone has honorable intentions. Even if someone is "safe" in the physical sense, they may be trying to get close to you just to get information to gossip about or because they want to find out more about you in an unhealthy way. In other words, until someone is your friend, they are an acquaintance that you don't know that well.
Pay close attention to what your new friend asks, and avoiding over-sharing until you get to know them better. Keep your guard (somewhat) up until you feel comfortable. Give opportunities for the person to show their real self, it's the only way you'll know if they deserve your friendship.