Mutual marketing director gives Valentine’s Day dating safety tips

Maddi Dayton
Mutual’s goal is to bring couples together and assist in creating lasting marriages. The Mutual marketing director gave out safety dating tips on Valentine’s Day. (Photo courtesy of Maddi Dayton)

Dating apps such as Mutual are an opportunity for single people to find companionship — especially on Valentine’s Day. Mutual offers safety tips and resources for sexual assault for users to ensure safe swiping and dating.

“We truly have a vision and a goal to create eternal marriages,”  said Tiah Westover, Mutual’s marketing director. “And that’s what we do. That’s what we work toward.”

According to Westover, there are around 30,000 people using the Mutual app on any given day. The male-to-female ratio is almost 50/50, with slightly more males.

Mutual’s goal of creating opportunities for eternal marriages is evidently accomplished with its successful marriage stories, Westover said.

“My best experience with Mutual was with my now-husband,” former Mutual user Camry Smith said. “Our date was so effortless and easy and just overall so much fun! We instantly bonded!”

Others have seen the positive outcomes from Mutual in their friends and family, such as BYU student Brandon Mix.

“Because of Mutual, my best friend is in a good relationship right now,” Mix said.

However, not all dates with people met online turn out to be good. In fact, some dates turn scary and involve unwanted harassment and/or assault. Smith described a bad Mutual date that only lasted five minutes, as she became too uncomfortable to continue.

“We sat in his car for about five minutes,” Smith said. “He was telling me how tired he was. He even laid his head on my leg and on my shoulder because he kept saying he was so tired. I finally just said, ‘Okay, because you’re so tired I’m gonna leave.’”

In response to stories like these, Mutual has been working to increase the wellbeing of its users by implementing safety features, Westover said.

“The first and probably the main one is our verification,” Westover said. “So we always recommend people verify their profile and message people who have a verified profile.”

Mutual’s verification process involves taking a selfie either holding a copy of the Book of Mormon or posing with the Boy Scout symbol. A support team of employees then go through and make sure the user’s profile is legitimate.

In addition to utilizing Mutual’s verification feature, Westover recommended a few tips to dating smartly and safely through dating apps.

“We recommend a public place, not a remote hike and not their house,” Westover said. “We recommend driving separately.”

Westover also recommended for users to educate themselves on what is needed for safety before going into the date.

“Some of those things are as simple as becoming comfortable and aware of how the Spirit speaks to you,” Westover said. “That way, when you’re in an uncomfortable situation, you can identify that and take those steps necessary to protect yourself.”

If something bad does occur on a date, Mutual has the option to block and report users through the app. According to Westover, Mutual’s support team personally responds to every report that is sent in.

Westover also suggested several resources for those who experience harassment or assault from dates, partners or other situations. Some of these resources include the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, police departments, therapy and community support groups.

More resources are included on a list provided by Westover:

1. Utah’s 24-hour Sexual Violence Crisis Line at (888) 421-1100.

2. Any survivor of sexual violence can be provided with a medical exam through one of the several Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners programs available in Utah.

3. A list of community-based resource centers that provide free and confidential services to survivors of sexual violence

Westover said if users see someone on Mutual who has been known to harass or harm others, they have the option to report that person within the Mutual app.

“When you log on to Mutual for the first time, it talks about how we’re raising the bar, and safety is one of those ways,” Westover said. “This is an app that is intended for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visitors are welcome, but you have to uphold our community standards, whether you’re a member of the Church or not.” 

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