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The Internet Dating Crash Course – Lesson 5 – Turning an Online Dating Match Into an Offline Date!
Online dating is scary for some people who are shy or new to the dating scene after a long time away from it. And eventually, there comes a time when online communication is not enough – and the other person (or you) wants to meet offline. You want it to go smoothly, but there are a few things you can do to ensure safety, a good time, and a positive experience.
How soon should you meet offline?
Everyone will have a different comfort level when it comes to transitioning from online chat or email to an in-person meeting. And the man or woman you’re communicating with may be moving faster or slower than you’d like.
You’ll need to be patient with this (and make sure they’re patient with you), because pushing someone in a meeting is never a good thing. It will probably end badly.
Some people will find a match and immediately want to meet for a casual, light date to talk in person and see if there’s a connection there.
Others will want to develop a deep relationship before planning to meet in person. Have you ever seen the movie, “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?
They chatted online and dragged out the in-person meeting until there were real feelings. And this can happen to you too.
Some people (especially those new to online dating) may think it’s impossible to develop true feelings for someone you’ve never met. But many people start sharing things and forming a strong bond with each other only through text messages and possibly phone conversations.
Do you just want to meet quickly (sort of like ripping off a bandage) or give yourself time to see if an in-person meeting will be worth it.
Be honest with the person you are communicating with. Don’t make fun of them if they are shy to meet. At the same time, try to analyze the situation to see if they might be playing you (maybe someone is married and just dating online with no intention of pursuing a romantic relationship).
When the time comes that feels right to initiate personal communication, simply ask casually, like this:
“Hey, it would be great if we could meet up offline sometimes – are you cool with that or would you rather spend a little more time?”
Don’t start demanding things like, “I HAVE to meet you in person by the end of the week – I can’t stand being away from you anymore.”
This can be creepy and scary for the other person.
Safety is your #1 priority – for men and women!
When you decide to meet off-site, the person will never come to your house to meet you.
Now you men may be reading this and laughing, but don’t overlook the fact that there are women in the world who will spike your drink and steal your possessions.
So meet in a public place like a restaurant or high-traffic public park or other destination. It’s not just your address that you don’t want to give out. Don’t meet them at their house – even if their idea of a first date includes cooking for you.
Make sure someone knows where you’re going and who you’re meeting (from which online dating site). If you want, put a note next to your computer so that if something were to happen, the police would know where to look.
Never get drunk during your first date with the person you are meeting. Watch your drink – don’t leave it to go to the bathroom. If you do, ask the bartender to get you a new one.
Also take your wallet or purse with you if you go anywhere so your date can’t look up your driver’s license address or take things without you knowing.
After the date, don’t let them drive you home – even if it went well. You still don’t know this person well enough to show them your home address, so take a taxi or drive yourself and make sure they don’t follow you.
Some of these tips may seem a little paranoid, but it’s better to be overly cautious than to take any chances. People on the dating site know you’re single – and you don’t want to be hanging out there like bait if a smart shark happens to be in the dating waters, right?
The most important thing is to trust your intuition. If you feel creepy with this person, end the date right then and there. Don’t drag it out and wait to see if something happens.
Perfect ideas for a first date
The first date will depend on the two of you to a large extent. There is no “one size fits all”. There are some common places you can choose for a first date, but there are also some neat, special first date ideas that could suit your style even more!
If you want to meet for a quick date, try your local coffee shop. Some people like to meet for a Frappachino and have some small talk over iced coffee before going on a date that lasts longer than 30 minutes.
You might even want to see if your local Barnes and Noble has a Starbucks so you can meet up to find a new book and talk about something on your date too!
If you are already determined to have a romantic date, then by all means go with a romantic restaurant meal. Italian restaurants often have a nice atmosphere.
If you want to keep the conversation to a minimum, try watching a movie together! That way you’ll meet and chat for a bit before it starts, and then chat a bit after it’s over (maybe even go for ice cream afterwards if you want to keep the conversation going).
If you’re both outdoorsy types, then meet at a local outdoor activity like a public park or nature center. See if your area has a botanical garden for a beautiful setting.
If the arts are a big part of your life, check out the museum exhibitions. Or pick up a free magazine usually found at the entrance of your grocery store to see what musical activities are happening that week.
If you both have dogs, see if there is a dog park in your area. If there isn’t, just plan to take your pets to a park and meet up. Make sure you feel safe having your dog around their dog if either is an aggressive animal.
If you each have friends who know about the meeting, why not suggest a double date? Or even a platonic band? You don’t want too many people there who might start making fun of your situation. Only a wingman would do the trick as stress levels are high.
If you’re both adventurous, see if you can plan something amazing – like a hot air balloon ride, rock climbing or even a jump out of a plane!
Breaking the ice when the conversation stalls
Now sometimes there can be a downside to waiting too long to meet your online dating match in person. If you keep talking via chat and phone for too many weeks or months, you won’t have much to say in person when you finally get on that first date!
Some of the dates will automatically inspire discussion. For example, if you go to a museum together, you can comment on the exhibits you see.
Make sure you don’t do all the talking for yourself. You show someone you care by asking about them too. But don’t take it too personally if they don’t extend the same courtesy.
Some people are so nervous on a first date that they blurt things out without thinking.
You can ask questions about the other person – their favorite things, for example. But don’t get too intimate and ask something embarrassing or something they might want to keep private.
This may be a time when you are planning a future together, but you don’t want to interrogate them with questions like, “How many kids do you want? What kind of money do you make? Do you want to meet the parents?”
It’s okay to be nervous (and admit it) but just try to take a deep breath and maintain that happy balance between being too shy and reserved and too over the top and demanding.
Ending the first date and deciding if there will be a second
Ending a first date should never be decided in advance. You never want to say you have to be home at 10 because that prevents you from leaving at 9 if you want to.
Don’t have a friend text you about an emergency or tell them you’re going to the bathroom to disappear. Be an adult and respect that and just politely say something like, “I don’t know if it’s just me, but I feel like maybe we should move on and say goodbye tonight because it seems like we’re not a great match.”
When you meet your online dating contacts, some will be absolutely fantastic matches, some will be nightmares, and some will be in between. You’ll have an easy time deciding on horror stories, but if the date was just “okay,” you’ll have to decide if another one should be on the horizon.
You might want to give it another go if you think there might be something there. First dates are mocked because they are often awkward, so a second try could prove more fruitful.
On the other hand, if there’s no spark and you feel like it would be pointless, don’t drag it out and make them suffer.
Online dating is a wonderful thing that connects people all over the world with like-minded people. Like offline dating, you have to try new things and get out of your comfort zone, but it puts a barrier of protection in place initially that the offline world can’t provide and allows you to analyze a potential partner based on more apparently!
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