Women, both cisgender and transgender, should feel safe going through their daily lives and enjoying the same activities as men. But do women feel safe in all situations, especially dating and meeting new people? Not always. For some women, the answer is that they rarely feel safe.

If you’ve been the recipient of creepy messages, non-consensual dick pics, online or offline harassment, and other dangerous behavior while talking to people, using dating apps, and meeting up in person, you’re right to worry about your safety. Men in general and society as a whole needs to do better to make everyone feel safe doing something as simple (and complicated) as dating.

Until that day finally arrives, finding safe avenues to date and meet people is an ongoing challenge. Chat lines are a lesser known alternative to typical dating apps, and they can be a much safer option for women.

Chat Lines Offer More Control

Chat lines are unlike most other opportunities for people to meet and potentially find love. Instead of giving up all your data to a “free” app and sifting through messages that just say “Hey” or the aforementioned dick pic, you control the interaction you have with people. You call when you want to call, and you only talk to people you want to talk to.

Good chat lines, like these that are reviewed by chat line experts, allow (and encourage) everyone calling in to record a message as a quick introduction. That gives you the opportunity to decide if someone seems interesting or if they give you a bad feeling. And while others can listen to your message, you’re not obligated to talk to them or accept their invitation to chat. Chat lines offer up more control with a lot less effort.

Maintain Your Anonymity

Chat lines don’t require that you share any personal information that you don’t want to in order to interact with anyone, allowing you to maintain your anonymity for as long as you want to. Everyone has to call into the same line in order to connect so your number isn’t visible to whoever you’re talking to. You also don’t have to share any information you don’t want to. This includes what you look like, your real first name, and your contact information. No more back-to-back DMs from someone who thinks being a “nice guy” is a free pass to sex and nude selfies.

The sad fact is that some people go from being annoying and slightly creepy to full on stalkers without any warning. If you’ve ever had a random guy track you down outside of a dating app, you know how unsafe you feel once your privacy is violated. In a chat line, you’re only sharing what you want other people to know. While no system is perfect, you can be as private and anonymous as you want on a chat line.

End the Call Whenever You Want

Any dating tool (app or chat line) that gives people the opportunity to connect must have some kind of block feature. No one should have to see, hear from, or interact with anyone who makes them feel unsafe. On a chat line, though, this is easier than you realize. When someone makes you uncomfortable or you would rather not talk, you can end the call when you’re ready. You don’t owe anyone a polite end to a call if they’re making you uncomfortable or unsafe.

If for any reason this doesn’t seem to be enough, moderators and other forms of help are available through chat lines. You should be able to hit the appropriate button on your phone’s keypad and connect directly to a moderator or the help desk. They have the ability to ban someone from calling in and should if they harass you.

Safety Tips for Chat Lines

In a perfect world, everyone would respect consent. Predators would be few and far between and no one, especially women, would feel unsafe when dating and meeting new people. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in. To help keep yourself safe when using a chat line, follow these safety tips.

  • Limit the personal details you use in your outgoing message on a chat line. Keep the details vague about who you are until you’re ready to share that information with someone specific.
  • Use your first name only — or even a pseudonym — until you’re comfortable with the person you’re chatting with.
  • Never share your personal phone number in your outgoing messages. Wait to share it in a one-on-one chat until you feel comfortable.
  • Pay attention to how you feel. If you feel uneasy or unsafe, you don’t have to continue a conversation. If someone pressures you for information you don’t want to give, end the call.
  • Don’t share your home or work address or the name of your employer until you’ve met someone and feel comfortable with them.
  • Do not hesitate to block someone who bothers or upsets you. If you need to, work with the chat line moderators to make sure they leave you alone.

Because of the amount of control a chat line can provide, any caller should feel relatively safe using the system. You only call in when you want to — so there are no notifications or unwanted messages to deal with during the day. You decide who’s call to accept and when to end a call. And if someone makes you feel unsafe, blocking and reporting them is often easier and more effective than on dating apps.

No system is perfect and creepers gonna creep, but phone chat lines are much safer than most women realize — and a great way to meet new people. Instead of imagining what someone sounds like or the tone in their voice, you can hear it for yourself and then decide if you want to pursue the conversation. You have more control and more anonymity on a chat line — and more protection and safety, too.

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