Dating Safely: Leaving Carefully

We know and accept we have value and are willing to put in the effort to be open for only a safe and fulfilling relationship. We went through the efforts of preparation to keep private information private. We have been qualifying the people we connect with, and we have been meeting people safely.

Along the way in following these directions, we may have seen a person demonstrate risky behavior or maybe something just doesn't feel right or maybe you just don't feel safe - all of which are absolutely grounds for moving along. If you are unsure about whether or not you want to continue, that’s a different matter, and not covered in this article. When you have decided you deserve more than a person offers these are the suggestions on how to leave carefully when you are sure you are ready to go.

Take Responsibility. Because we know our value and choose to trust our gut, we will leave relationships that may be unsafe or do not meet our needs. Whether you’ve only had casual conversation or whether you engaged in a relationship it’s your right - and responsibility – to walk away. Even if things started well and you felt you really liked someone initially you are allowed to change your mind at any time and for any reason- or no reason at all. You make up half of a relationship and if you are done, then the relationship is done whether the other party agrees or not.

Say It Clearly. Having made a resolute decision to stop investing in or accepting attention from a person, tell them - simply, directly and plainly. Maybe with something like,

"Thank you, but this isn't what I want or need for me. I don't want to waste your time. Good luck."

Clearly let them know you do not want, or no longer want, a relationship with them. Attempts at softening the blow often lead to miscommunication and make things worse. You do not owe any explanation further than it not being right for you. It’s a plain and simple fact that you are moving on. Be sure they know.

Do Not Negotiate. Anything after a clear statement of fact that you are no longer pursuing or interested in contact or a relationship is negotiation. If you engage and change your mind and continue with this person, if and when you ever do decide to actually leave – it will likely take more time, more effort and be more of a problem - as you’ve shown them you weren’t serious or sure of yourself in the past. Also, accepting friendship is not helpful and leaving the door open for misunderstanding.

Do Not Respond. Our culture unfortunately encourages us to play “hard to get” and shows that “persistence pays off”. In dating the difference between an action being classified as romantic or stalking is determined not by the act but by how the person feels about it. Do them and you a favor after having already made yourself clear and leave it alone. If someone reaches out repeatedly, ask them to stop contacting you and stop responding. If their messages request closure or one last conversation or they just want to give something back– do not give in. As long as you give your time and attention the contact and pursuing (and risk) will continue.

Block them. If you have a followed the suggestions given previously in this dating safely series then you can easily block any person necessary using the feature on whichever app you are using to find dates. If they find your email or phone number attached to your account, no worries as we made it solely for dating and it's not connected to any personal information. You can block them on that email, and you can block them through Google Voice.

Report Crime. You are responsible to both you and your community for reporting crime. Crime includes: harassment, stalking, threats – even if only joking. If you ask them to stop reaching out to you and they continue - that's harassment. If a visitor shows up to your work and you don’t want it and/or feel uncomfortable or scared– speak up. Like with any job, some police officers may be more helpful than others, but it is your right and their job to take a report. Insist a report is taken, even if you need to request the help of another officer or a supervisor. Starting a paper trail as soon as possible is recommended even if you think it's dramatic or unnecessary.

Is a PPO or Restraining Order Necessary? Go with your gut! If you have taken the above suggestions and have filed police reports and continue to feel unsafe sometimes a PPO can help a person to get it through their head that you’re serious. Other times, that same piece of paper can increase the danger of the situation. There is no concrete answer as to if it’s appropriate and/or when it’s appropriate. Again, go with your gut. Do not listen to well meaning friends or family. Trust your own gut on this one and follow through.

You may think some of these suggestions, if not all, seem unnecessary or too much. The point of this progression is self protection. When it comes to walking away use as much or as little of this as you need. As long as you implement the earlier suggestions of prevention from the previous articles you have options. Quite often it seems like these efforts may have been unnecessary, but if the behavior of the other person escalates along with taking steps for leaving then this is exactly why we do this. We want to weed that person out, hopefully before we become enmeshed, as quickly and safely as possible.

If we do all of this and don't need it - that's a win. If we take the time and put in the effort and later realize we may have connected with someone who may not be as charming and friendly as we first thought then that's a huge win, too. The reality is if we do this stuff and it saves us from terrible life experience we likely won't even know anyway. No matter what, you don't ever hear people regretting being too prepared.

Stay Safe!

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