Adulting with Erin: Do's and don'ts of dating a killer

By Erin Bothwell | September 5, 2017 11:53am

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by Brennan Robinson / The Beacon

It’s a new school year, and maybe this means you feel like a new you. You might also be mistaking the ominous, red clouds induced by irregular wildfires in the surrounding area for something totally different: love is in the air. We all know the kinds of people who just want to dive right into new relationships. Maybe you’re one of those people. No judgment. But I want to share a personal fear of mine, one you probably weren’t thinking about, but after reading this column, it will never leave your mind.

How do you know if you’re dating a murderer? 

You’re probably thinking the obvious: I just won’t date a killer, but you can’t know your date isn’t a killer. And even if you suspect your date isn’t a killer right now, you might be the person that makes him/her a killer. You might be the first victim. But the thing is: I need you to stay alive (because I like having readers). 

It probably sounds like I’m paranoid and neurotic (or so my friends tell me), but hear me out. If you’re meeting people online, how well can you know them before you actually get to know them? Not very well. Even if you meet someone face-to-face, it’s a good idea to feel out the person before cannonballing into a full-fledged relationship. 

Do: Google the crap out of the person beforehand. Just in case. If you get killer vibes, CANCEL THE DATE. 

Don’t: Keep your date a secret. Tell your best friends, your siblings, your roommates. They’ll really appreciate that you want to be open about your dating adventures with them and may even reciprocate the favor. Plus, talking about dates with your friends is honestly like half the fun of dating. 

Do: Meet in a public space. Not at an apartment complex or a house you aren’t familiar with. Stopping by a party your date’s friend is throwing isn’t a good idea because it could be a party full of stone-cold killers. You don’t know this person! You don’t know what his/her friends are like (potential killers).  

*You can also download the Find My Friends app so your pals can track you during your date/if you get kidnapped. 

Don’t: Send a message that says, “Help me. My date is a killer and I am being kill-” Because if your date is a killer, there’s no guarantee you’ll have that much time to text for help. 

Instead, pick an emergency codeword, letter or number that your friends know means HELP if you ever text or call it. A codeword is a precaution — if for even one second you think you’ll need it, CANCEL THE DATE. 

Do: Wear something you can flee in. You don’t have to wear sweats and sneakers, but at least wear decent underwear so if you rip your skinny jeans sprinting away from your date, you won’t be super embarrassed. 

Actually, maybe just don’t wear skinny jeans in the first place. Go with a stretchy straight-cut or boot-leg pant. “My, how straight-cut your pants are.” “All the better to run away from you, my dear.” 

Do: Send your friends pictures of you all dolled up for your date, so if you do go missing they can describe to the police the outfit you were last seen in. Your friends can also weigh in on your wardrobe choice (and it’s always nice to get a second opinion, particularly if you’re unsure about your outfit). 

Do: Charge your phone. There used to be a rumor that if you dial 911 on a dead phone your call will go through, but I suspect a killer created this myth.  

Don’t: Stick around. Give Usain Bolt a run for his money. Maybe bring mace, but remember most weapons you can use may also be used against you if your attacker disarms you or if you panic and drop it. Basically, if you can run: RUN. Don’t stick around to spray your ex-date’s face with pepper spray and give him/her more time to try and grab you. 

Don’t: Scream, “HELP!” If you’re being dragged off, scream something, but don’t scream help. People can be apathetic and won’t necessarily rush to your rescue (remember Kitty Genovese?). People do respond when they think something might actually be happening. So yell “fire,” not help.

Do: Try to call out individuals, so people know exactly who you’re talking to and won’t think someone else is going to step in and save you. “You with the red shirt, dial 911!” You’ve got to boss your bystanders around to get them to do something. 

I’m going to get personal for a second. If you date a killer and the killer kills you, you need it to be a national affair. You need your awkward school picture on every major news channel ASAP. You need law enforcement and the media to treat your disappearance like you’re a wealthy white housewife with oil money. I don’t care if you’re black or white, gay, straight or bi (musical interlude: you were born this way!); If you go missing, you should go missing white woman- style

But the media won’t find your disappearance all that exciting if you don’t leave interesting information behind that will entice the nation into following your story (and boost primetime news ratings). How else will “20/20” or “48 hours” realize your case is interesting and significant enough to warrant a special? Or how will your family know to hold a candlelight vigil if they don’t realize you’re missing and think you’re just busy living it up at college, when you’re really trapped in a stranger’s basement? 

Hopefully, you won’t make headlines for being killed by your Tinder date, but (as you’ve heard a million times) it’s better to be safe than sorry. And if Ashton Kutcher has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can be a killer. Anyone. Anywhere. Anytime. 

Are you freaked out yet? Good. You should be. With any luck, your future romantic partner will be figuratively killing it in school, or killing it at a job, but not literally killing anything (except maybe insects). Now go forth and date killers!* 

*JK JK JK. Please don’t die. 

Contact engagement editor Erin Bothwell at bothwell19@up.edu or on Twitter @erinbothwell.
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