Men underestimate women’s need to feel safe

We’d talked on the phone a few times but hadn’t met. It was early evening when we talked again and he said he’d love to take me to dinner that night. But he had a favor to ask: his Jag was in the shop so would I drive to his area for dinner?

He lived 45 minutes away in a newly gentrified part of a not-so-great area. It was already dark. I didn’t relish driving to his area after sunset.

When I said that, he scoffed, trying to cajole me. I wouldn’t budge. “I’m not driving there alone after dark.” He said he lived in a safe part of town. “But,” I responded, “I have to drive through a not-so-safe part to get to your part.” He got exasperated.

This wasn’t the first time a man had disregarded my concern for my safety. I hadn’t been able to articulate this before I listened to a recording from a seminar about men and women. The seminar leader asked how many men had been cognizant of their personal safety in the last month. No men’s hands raised. She then asked the women. Every hand raised.

In dating, women need to be conscious about creating safe environments for themselves. This is why we are advised to always meet a man in a public place for the first few dates, and to always drive in your own car until you’ve vetted the man. I’ve ignored this advice a few times and while nothing happened, it could have. In retrospect, I saw how stupid I was and how lucky I was that nothing happened.

We don’t want to be paranoid, yet if you are a trusting person, you give men that trust before they have earned it. I don’t even like a man to pick me up at my house on the second date. I’ve found too many see that as an invitation to more than I’d wanted.

Since many men don’t understand that they need to make sure the woman feels safe, look for the signs of his insensitivity. If while planning a date he chides you for insisting you drive yourself to the rendezvous site, he’s not the kind of conscientious man you want. If he tries to persuade you that he will “be good” or “a gentleman” when you say you’re not comfortable going to his house for a second-date dinner, he’s trying to manipulate you.

Be clear on what you need to feel safe. Think about it ahead of time so you can express yourself confidently and firmly. If he tries to negotiate what you state you need to feel comfortable, he’ll try to press your boundaries until he gets his way.

You don’t want to be paranoid, but few women have been sorry they’ve erred on the side of caution. The women who are regretful are the ones who ignored their inner voice screaming “this doesn’t feel comfortable” then allowing the man to lead them where they didn’t want to go.

You always want to be equipped to get yourself out of a situation that becomes uncomfortable. The challenge is that you may feel comfortable with a man on the first few dates so agree to things you know could be risky. You probably don’t know the man very well as you start dating. So he could be perfectly nice in public on the first few dates. But behind closed doors he could show a side that makes you uncomfortable. This is why it’s important to keep your dates to public places for a while. If he has controlling tendencies, they will begin to leak out soon enough.

Have you experienced men who try to convince you that your cautiousness is unfounded? How did you respond? Have you found yourself in situations that you realize could have ended badly? Any experiences that started innocently but caused you to extricate yourself because you didn’t feel safe?


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16 responses to “Men underestimate women’s need to feel safe”

  1. Lisa Avatar

    I would say this guy is perhaps not very nice if he is initally so insensitive to your feelings. He certainly does not know how to make a good first impression! Or maybe you could attribute his frustration to his keen desire to meet you! My work takes me into all kinds of urban neighborhoods, so I feel more comfortable in some settings than others might, but he should still respect how you feel.

    I did meet a guy once–the guy whose supposedly ex-girlfriend called me after he and I had met a few times and seemed to be following us….Anyway, this woman gave me reason to think that she could perhaps be some kind of psycho person and show up on my doorstep. It did amaze me that the guy did not seem to get how annoying her two calls were to me. He never really seemed to think it was an issue and never really apologized for it. This relationship went no where for obvious reasons.

    So if a guy is not concerned about your feelings, whether he agrees with how you feel or not, he is not a match.

  2. Beth Avatar

    I met a guy online who asked me to coffee. We met at Starbucks. His next date request was a movie night at his place. I told him I’d feel more comfortable if we met in public places at least a few more times. I never heard from him again. No loss there, I’m thinking. 🙂

  3. Karen Avatar

    Beth–that is so right! Besides, what a cheap “first date” anyway–he’s definately a loser.

    I’ve encountered a slightly different problem–guys I’m dating who act like I’m super fragile and vulnerable. I do like to hang onto a man’s arm when I’m “out”, especially when I’m wearing heels, but that’s just social convention. I’m talking about in other ways. For example, one guy made a show of coming into my house and checking all the rooms and the basement to make sure there were no intruders. Which was kinda cute but also kinda annoying because it seemed to imply that I needed a man to protect me even in my own home in a super safe neighborhood where I’ve lived for decades! In another example, a man who suggested that I’d need his “help” buying a car–because otherwise I’d be likely to be ripped off by the salesman.

  4. Brenda Avatar

    I really enjoyed this post and have had experiences like this before……..I had a man who had agreed to meet me for dinner in a public place, end up with a “reason” why I needed to drive to his place after my gym workout; I refused and we rescheduled……..after a few “public dates”, he invited me to his house for dinner and a movie, which I feel was too premature. He wanted to have a major makeout session after dinner, all while proceeding to tell me about a woman who was stalking him………..and he actually went outside when he heard a noise to look for her car!

    Needless to say, I did not feel safe being with him and left right away.

    What I have learned, and it appears that Beth had this happen to her also, is that movie night dates done prematurely, are usually an invitation to premature intimacy and are best avoided for a number of reasons!

  5. Valiat Avatar

    I am in my 40’s, and have been dating for a couple of years, after being out of the scene for almost 2 decades. Most of the men I have met have been much less concerned about my (or their own) safety than I am. They have displayed a variety of behaviors to “push” me to do what they want, even if I tell them that I am not comfortable, from pushing to meet in private too soon, to wanting to avoid safe sex practices. I have encountered a lot of ignorance, manipulation tactics, and outright denial related to personal dating risks, even from middle-aged men with high IQ’s, advanced degrees, and regular dating experience. I have been less than enchanted by having to be the only person who is focused on common simple, sane, safe dating behaviors, and I really resent it when I am asked to compromise my safety by a prospective dating companion. I am getting better at standing up for my own boundaries, and you are right, I do not regret it when I do. Thank you very much for publishing so much helpful information and personal anecdotes. Your words help me to understand many things that are happening to many people, not just me, and your posts have helped me to become a more safe and savvy dater.

  6. Jordan Avatar

    I recently had two men try to meet them at their places for the first date. Yea, right.

  7. Julie Avatar

    “But he had a favor to ask: his Jag was in the shop so would I drive to his area for dinner?”

    It’s nice the jerkiness came out so early! A guy suggesting this right from the start doesn’t necessarily mean he’s dangerous, but I think it’s a sure sign he’s not caring, and used to dealing with women who give in easily.

    I think some guys ‘get it’ with women, some need a little guidance. And then there’s the other type… they just dont seem to care and dont want to change!

  8. Julie Avatar

    “It was early evening when we talked again and he said he’d love to take me to dinner that night. But he had a favor to ask: his Jag was in the shop so would I drive to his area for dinner?”

    I posed this question to the BF at dinner the other night as a “if you had met someone online and had been chatting a little bit, would you say you’d love to take her to dinner, but your Lexus was in the shop and would she drive to your area?”

    He almost didn’t allow me to finish the question with this response, “never.”

    So, after his reply, I said I know someone this happened to. He immediately shook his head and said he didn’t believe it. He said the guy probably didn’t have a car he felt good about, and too, if he had the Jaq he could have rented a car because first impressions are really important. He thought it seemed kind of low-brow.

    I just think that one was your classic online guy… not really ready for a relationship/not really wanting one/just doin some online datin dabblin…

  9. Krystal Miguel Avatar

    I just felt the need to chime in for the guys a bit. Men don’t understand our need for safety because they don’t have the same need. Yes, it is inconsiderate but we need to be able to articulate with reason. Imagine if a guy told you he didn’t want to meet your children because he wanted to be sure the relationship was viable before establishing a bond. (My brother had this happen) The girl felt he didn’t want to be around her kids while he was just trying to get to know her before they involved a child (under 10). People need to communicate better.

    Sometimes this means explaining to a guy that you are operating on a better safe than sorry principle as opposed avoiding them because they may be dangerous. They cajole because they want to convince us that they wouldn’t harm us. And most wouldn’t.

    This from my BF, BFF, and brother….we aren’t all rapists and murders…the majority of guys are just eagerly pursuing their quarry.

  10. Karen Avatar

    That’s too funny!

    When he said his “jag was in the shop” you should have countered with “oh no, so is my Bentley! ” and then you should have slapped your knee and laughed really hard…

    Honestly, whatta classic line! It’s right up there with “my wife doesn’t understand me…”

  11. Dating Goddess Avatar

    I had some similar doubts that he was calling his Yugo a “Jag” but when we did meet he did get out of a Jag. So my issue was that he wasn’t at all sensitive to my not wanting to drive through the rough part of town at night. Plus, as you know, I’m not fond of last-minute meetups for a first encounter. And I don’t mind meeting someone half-way if we live a ways apart, but it felt onerous that he 1) wanted me to drop everything to have dinner with him, 2) me to drive all the way to him, and 3) his lack of consideration for my concerns about my safety.

    I subsequently got a flame comment — which I deleted because it was just a hater comment — saying I’ll never find anyone to date because I was just so high and mighty and unwilling to just drive through a bad part of town. He was chastising me for being a wuss. Obviously, he demonstrated my point about men not having a clue about how vulnerable women can feel about their safety!

  12. Ditz Avatar

    I found that the men whose company I enjoyed went out of their way to make me feel comfortable. They insist on doing the driving to meet me, and ask me where I would feel comfortable meeting them (cafes and restaurants I am familiar with). If a man is careless with me at the beginning, why would I assume he would care more later on.

  13. Julie Avatar

    After meeting a few with a similiar M.O., I told myself that I would STOP and LISTEN to those red flags/uncomfortable feelings. I might have just let him know right off that our interaction was making me feel bad, and that I’m going to hang up now. Just react right away when they don’t act right is how I went about it!

  14. Morgan Avatar

    Even if a man has never felt unsafe he should still respect a woman’s fears. I have to agree with you in not swinging by to meet your jag-owning date. I’ve had dates who didn’t walk me to my car after dark. I not only thought that was amazingly rude on their part, but a guarantee of no follow-up date.

  15. kacil Avatar

    there’s a lot of men who do not practice safe sex and i found this to be very scary, with all the information we have about the dangers of unprotected sex they still ignore it. Well the last guy i went out with i found out that this man had a very bad past , women please pay more attention to whom you are involve with. do background checks and investigate anything that appear to be odd.

  16. David Avatar

    I know this is an old post, but I just want to chime in as a man. As Krystal said, men don’t understand this need of women because most of us don’t have this need ourselves. I honestly never think about personal safety when it comes to dating. Most men don’t. So don’t label all of us as being insensitive when we are actually just ignorant. Don’t expect a man who just met you to think about these things. Maybe the women he’s dated in the past have never brought this up. We are not mind readers, so just bring this up if you feel he is being unreasonable. If he still insists, then that is a definite negative. But give the guy a fair chance first.