From Online to In-Person: Leaps in Modern Dating

You’ve interacted for hours at a time. He knows the name of your first pet. She can list your top five favorite movies. You’ve exchanged photos and videos. You’ve discussed him at length to your best friends and family. But now you’re going to meet in person. This person you have dated online will be face-to-face with you for the first time⎯and you’re left without the security blanket of your computer screen and keyboard. When the bubbling excitement transitions to nervousness it is important to keep tips in mind for how to plan that first true encounter.

As with family members you’ve only seen in photos or middle-school pen pals, the physical presence of someone you’ve been dating online is sometimes much different than how you’ve imagined. Maybe he’ll seem a little taller. Maybe her smile will seem even brighter. Be prepared for some little (or big) surprises⎯but getting to know the person in front of you can be even better than the one you’ve conjured up in your head.

When making the leap to dating in person, comfort is an essential element to that first date. Choose a neutral location for the date, but in an area in which you are familiar and at ease. Neither party should go too far out of their day-to-day area. Try to make the date something somewhat short and without a strict timeframe. If the date is not going down a path that you are comfortable with, it will be easier to excuse yourself. Avoid movie theaters because of this reason and also because they allow no time to talk. Going for coffee or, in some cases, a drink can be a great idea. Choose a location that is usually busy but not so teeming with people that you can’t get a table or hear each other speak. It is a good idea to meet during the day rather than in the evening, as day dates can seem more casual and less pressure-filled. Arrange to meet your date at the location instead of carpooling. Arriving by yourself allows you freedom to leave and can erase added concerns about the plans for the big day.

Despite your feelings for the person, safety is always a concern when transitioning online dating to dating dating. Sure you may have been dating online from anywhere from weeks to years and think you know the person as well as any of your friends, but it’s always important to be careful. Ensure that somebody close to you knows the time and location of your date. The tips on types of dates, locations, and times of day also keep this safety issue in mind.

All first dates can turn even the most self-confident people into bumbling bundles of nerves. The added wrinkle of moving from online dating to dating in person can add extra worries. Try to relax and forget all of your preconceived notions of the person and of what the date should be exactly like. Many first dates do not mirror the daydreams that you’ve surely had. Remember that’s normal! Maybe you’ll be completely turned off by your date and will make emergency pickup phone calls to your best friend from the bathroom. Maybe it will be a nice date and you’ll continue to speak and plan a second date. Then there’s always the possibility that your date will be everything you wanted in your wildest dreams. Don’t get caught up in trying to look into your future. Keep it simple and enjoy having your online romance sitting next to you, instead of streaming through a wireless connection.

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