How to Safely Meet New Walking Friends

Treat it Like a Blind Date

Team of Walkers at Race
Team of Walkers at Race. Hero Images/Getty Images

If you are looking for new walking friends, it is always good to play things as safe as if you are going on a blind date.

Taking Precautions

What is there to be wary of? The vast majority of those seeking a walking partner simply want somebody to walk with them. However, unwanted romantic overtures or the possibility of sexual assault is always a concern. You should also be wary of those looking for easy marks to scam for money.

  • If posting online for a walking partner or responding to an online post, do not post your street address or phone number online.
  • Arrange to meet at a hosted walking event or a charity walk, or at a local track that is frequented by many walkers and runners.
  • Suggest that each of you brings along another friend or spouse for your first walk together.
  • Ensure that others know where you are going, with whom you are meeting, and when you should return.
  • Carry a cell phone and arrange to check-in by phone with a friend or spouse during your first walk with your new friend.
  • Use caution in giving personal information such as your home address, etc. until you have met the person and reassured yourself about them.
  • Do not get alone into a car with anyone you have just met.
  • More: Street Safety Tips for Walkers

Agree Upon Ground Rules For Your First Walk

Set expectations before your first walk together. Politely discuss walking speeds, distances, what you like or don't like for conversation, etc.

Say that you know not everybody is compatible and agree to not take offense if it doesn't work out.

Safety in Numbers

For a first walk-together, it is best to meet at a hosted walking event and enjoy it together. This gives you an easier "out" if it turns out that your walking speeds or personalities are not compatible, you can each continue on the route solo.

I have met most of my walking friends at walking events hosted by AVA walking clubs, which are open to everyone and many are free.

It is best if each of you can bring along another friend so you can get a second opinion about your new walking buddy. If you have no other walking friends, then a spouse or other friend could await you at the start or finish for coffee or lunch afterwards and have a chance to meet your new walking friend.

Setting Up Your Second Meeting

If you are compatible, set a date for your next walk that is several days away, such as the next weekend. This gives each of you a chance for second thoughts and being able to politely call and break off the agreed-upon next meeting.

Red Flags

Your instincts are usually right. If anything is said or done that makes you feel uneasy, listen to your instincts and politely beg off from further meetings. Particular warning signals:

  • Romantic or sexual overtures.
  • Discussion of financial problems and hints of need for a personal loan at your few meetings.
  • Too much interest in your personal information, especially financial information.
  • Doesn't seem very interested in walking, the walking seems to be just an excuse to meet you.
  • Immediately trying to sell you something, get you to invest in their project or company, or join their multi-level marketing scheme.

With these precautions, you can go forward to meet new walking friends. One of my walking friends was looking for a walking partner to walk after work on weekdays, since she lives on the other side of town from the rest of our walking team. She used ExerciseFriends.com and began posting back and forth with a gentleman in her area. She arranged for him to come to a hosted AVA walking event along with several of us from our walking team. We walked with him and gave her our opinions afterward. On our next walking weekend we met his wife. Our friend is now enjoying walking with her new friend in the evenings - and joining with us on the weekends.

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