So, you have finally reached the age for dating? Or maybe you were divorced and have decided to go back into the dating scene? Before you put yourself into a place that might lead to a serious relationship, give it some serious thought.

In high school? Well, “You’ll do it if you love me,” is NOT love. It is manipulation, control and self-centered desire for sexual pleasure for SELF! You should be able to make a choice and not be given a hard time for perhaps saying, “No.” You see, it IS okay to say “No,” or even “Not yet.” It’s YOUR life and YOUR choices. YOU get to make those calls for yourself. He grabs your arm, or boob? Tells you how beautiful you are, how sexy you are and how much you turn him on? That isn’t love, either. That is called flattery. And flattery is usually a trick of the trade to get from you what you don’t really want to give. Flatterers home in on insecure girls. It’s like they have this radar, and can find them from another county. I know. I was one of those girls who fell for flattery for most of my life. From fifth grade through, well, uh, into my 50s—yes, I was a grandma and still falling for the smooth talk. AARRGGHH!

If at any time you begin to feel (or words you hear sound like) you are private property of someone—that is not love, either. Love encourages the other person to be all they desire to be, to be the best they can be. To find the happiness and fulfillment they have always dreamed of. If you want to join the debate club and you’re told, “That is for geeks. Don’t be stupid,” you’re in the throes of a full blown attempt of power and control. Don’t fall for it. There is another guy out there who knows how to treat you well, as well as you truly deserve to be treated! I know about that, too. It might have taken most of my life, but I got my Prince Charming, and life could not be better. He supports me in my endeavors, yet wisely and kindly points out potentials for disaster (or dumb choices). I can trust him with my wellbeing.

Let me buy you a drink…

Maybe you are in college. You are out with some girlfriends, and this gorgeous guy approaches, offering to buy you a drink. You accept and strike up a nice conversation. He buys you another drink, and then another and another. Uh, girlfriend, the creep is trying to get you DRUNK!

Girlfriend, you’re coming with US!

Where are those girlfriends you arrived with? Doesn’t at least one have your back? Perhaps they walk up and say, “Okay, we’re ready to leave. Let’s go.” Mr. G.Q. so sweetly enters the conversation with, “Oh, why don’t you stay a little longer. I’d really like to get to know you better. I’ll be glad to take you home. Let’s just have another drink and talk.” If your friend is a real friend, she will do nothing short of hitting you over the head with a club and drag you to the car to take you home. This guy is on the hunt. And that makes you the prey. Possible outcome if you stay? DATE RAPE.

Or perhaps the two of you begin dating. Turns out he was no threat at the party after all. Slowly but surely he changes. “You look like a tramp wearing that. Why don’t you wear something else?” RED FLAG! Love does not insult! He makes fun of you around your friends? Love does not humiliate. He hurts your feelings on a regular basis now. Well, contrary to that old song, “You always hurt the one you love,” NO, you do NOT! You love the one you love.

The dating scene can be dangerous. Don’t go it alone. Not unless you really and truly know the person you are dating. And here’s a suggestion I’m throwing in free of charge—NEVER leave your drink unattended.

NEVER leave your glass unattended

My story? I was in my 50s, folks—a fully grown, smart, independent woman, I drove myself to a very nice restaurant w/a lounge altogether in one area. It has always been a very reputable and safe place. I love oldies music, and one of my favorite groups was appearing. I had one glass of wine, knowing I was alone and would be the only designated driver available. Had a bit of appetizers so as not to drink on an empty stomach. Then I switched over to plain water. A creepy guy was sitting at the bar, and seemed to be watching me. It became apparent he recognized the fact I was alone. I carried my purse with me and went to the ladies room. I was gone less than five minutes. When I returned, the creep was nowhere to be seen. Thank goodness, he left. I sipped on my water. Within 15 minutes I began getting a little lightheaded and dizzy. I figured I better head home. It was less than 10 miles away, and my dense self believed I could make it safely. The parking lot fairies had gifted me with a spot just outside the main entrance, where I could easily be seen by the staff at the front desk. I made it a point to tell them I was leaving and was parked in “that red Corvette right there.” Trying to be safe, I guess.

I crawled into my car, locked the doors immediately, which is my common practice, then started it and put it into reverse. I looked up to see the creepy guy coming from around the corner of the building. I backed out, and sped away. The entire trip to this day is a blank. I just remember dialing a friend of mine on my cell as I was driving home. The next thing I knew, I was waking up still in the car, as my head hit the horn and woke me up. I was in the garage, with the door closed tightly and the car still running. Close call? You could say so. I will never know for certain, but my guess is something was slipped into my water glass while I was in the ladies room.

So, be cautious. Be smart. Be safe. Dating is not always the safest place to be.

Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Hennecy spent much time during October 2011, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with media doing radio and television interviews. See Carolyn’s interview with Gayle Guyardo of NBC Channel 8 News Today Early Morning Show and her featured segment on the ABC Action News Emmy Award winning “Taking Action Against Domestic Violence” at

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