The internet is a scary place — that’s a scientific fact. Too often we’ve reported on online hookups that go from hot to hellish, and they have even resulted in death. And while these extremes are rare, there are a number of other bad outcomes that can and do happen when people decide to have a quick tryst from a website or app.
The safest thing to do is just avoid it altogether, but it seems clear that semi-anonymous hook-ups aren’t disappearing any time too soon. So with that in mind, here are six tips for staying safe and sane when you get the urge for digital cruising:
1. Shed the shame
The number one problem when it comes to hooking up online is the shame factor. All too often guys compartmentalize their lives so that acting out on lust and desire is relegated to that “dirty little secret” part of the self. Just look at how many “headless torso” profiles are out there. Try putting your best face forward. We are who we are, and sexual desire is a part of being human. When you’re out in the open, you’ll tend to make better decisions that more accurately reflect the whole you, and in turn put yourself in safer situations.
This can be tough. Spontaneity can be very sexy, and being asked “so what are you into?” can be a bit of a drag. But look at the situation objectively — you’re about to meet someone you don’t know and get very intimate very quickly. You’ll do yourself a favor by opening up lines of communication. “I only play safe.” “I’m positive.” “Do you have any toys?” “When were you last tested?” These are all entirely appropriate questions during the chatting stage, and how the other person reacts to honest talk may speak volumes about whether you actually want to meet in the flesh.
3. Try the truth(ish)
There is nothing worse than showing up for a hookup and having to do a double-take when the guy who answers the door looks absolutely nothing like his photos. Look, anyone who’s playing the field online is going to engage in some amount of deception. We try to present the best possible image of ourselves, it only makes sense. But be reasonable. A photo from eleven months ago when you were ten pounds lighter? Go for it. Saying you’re 29 when you’re 31? Unnecessary, but hey we aren’t going to judge. Using a photo taken during the last millennium? Please.
4. Meet in public
Not enough guys actually do this one, and we get that it’s a bit harder when it’s 2 a.m. (which isn’t a great idea to begin with), but meeting in public will do more than just give you an “out” if you need one. When you meet in public, it’ll feel very “real.” And that’s a good thing, because it is real.
5. Talk first
A 10-minute conversation will tell you so much about a person, and you owe it to yourself to make sure that you aren’t dealing with someone crazy. It doesn’t have to be a deep conversation, but just by chatting a bit you’ll pick up on body language, chemistry and overall sanity. Your pants can wait a few minutes to come off.
5. Don’t be afraid to bail
If something feels wrong, trust your instincts. Let your analytical mind be louder than your horniness. Bailing can be super awkward (less so if you meet in public), but there is absolutely no need to feel obligated when negotiating hooking up. The sex may be casual, but the decision to have it certainly isn’t. A simple, “I’m sorry, but I need to leave” will do. You don’t owe this person anything.
6. Stock up
This is so easy. Just bring condoms with you, and never rely on the other person to supply them. When things escalate and you realize they don’t have any on hand, you won’t ever have to have that “should I or shouldn’t I?” moment.