If you are ready to date again, whether you are looking for a casual encounter or long term relationship, it is important to be safe The following advice offers a common sense approach to taking care of yourself but don't get paranoid - attacks are rare and as long as you are sensible we'll sure you'll have a great time.

Clubbing and bars 

  • Never leave a drink unattended, and do not accept a drink from a stranger unless it is handed to you straight from the bar staff. If you think a drink tastes funny return it to the bar and ask for another one 
  • If you meet somebody and decide to leave with them, let someone one know, even if it means making a telephone call. With picture phones, it may even be possible to send a picture 
  • Make sure you know where you are going, and that you can get home from that area when you need to

Dating agencies/ blind dates

  • Always use a reputable agency and ensure that they do not pass personal data on to clients
  • If you are meeting somebody, ensure it is in a public place and trust your instincts, if you are uncomfortable, leave 
  • When applying to a personal ad or meeting through an agency be careful and realistic in your expectations 
  • If you are a single parent be cautious when advertising through agencies and personal ads. There are many people who prey on single parents for the wrong reasons

Internet dating 

  • Remember that people are not always what they seem on the Internet: tone of voice, posture and body language are things we rely on when making judgements about people and these are missing online. Therefore, always meet in a public place and trust your instintcs. If it doesn't feel right, make your excuses and leave.
  • Be careful not to give out personal details such as surname and where you live and work. With many internet sites offering personal search facilities, it will not take long for someone to find our your full address, telephone number and whether you live alone from a small amount of detail 
  • If you have children do not let on immediately and never declare this on a public forum. This may attract the wrong sort of attention 
  • If you decide to meet somebody make sure you meet in a public place. Let someone know where you are going and who you are meeting, and if possible ask for a photograph in advance. This way you can leave it with someone and check that the person you are meeting matches their picture 
  • Be realistic. Internet meetings can be exciting but the person you build up in your head will rarely match the person you actually meet