Oh, the anticipation of meeting your online lover in the flesh! Perhaps you’ve been chatting on a dating app, over an RPG or perhaps you’ve kept up a healthy amount of communication through Instagram direct messages.
Eventually the time comes when curiosity gets the best of you both and you decide to meet in real life. The best part about this situation is that you’ve built a bit of rapport with your online pal, so in theory… this first date will be a piece of cake!
Okay, okay. We know it might not be quite that easy. Just keep reading and we’ll slice a little piece up for you. We’ve got three easy tips that will help you make this fantasy a reality.
Don’t hesitate, set a date
If you’re already thinking about meeting up, chances are so are they. If you find yourself putting it off, you may run the risk of completely psyching yourself out of asking at all. You may also give the other party the impression that you’re not romantically interested if you play it too cool, so don’t go leaving it too long.
Let’s keep this first step simple. You can slide in your date suggestion smoothly into conversation. Let’s say they ask how your day is going, perhaps your response is: “A bit wild! How about I fill you in over a drink at this local bar tonight?”
If you’re movie buffs, check out what’s playing at your local theatre and send a trailer their way to see if they’re keen to consume some popcorn and pop culture.
Choose a public setting with an easy out, in case your online lover isn’t what they seemed. Text a friend and let them know where you’ll be, who you’ll be with and for how long, so that they can check in with you along the way.
As always – play it safe! Choose a public setting with an easy out, in case your online lover isn’t what they seemed. Text a friend and let them know where you’ll be, who you’ll be with and for how long, so that they can check in with you along the way. If you have a strong hesitation about meeting your internet friend IRL, trust your instincts. They exist for a reason.
It’s still a first date
Depending on how long you’ve been interacting with your internet love interest, you may feel like you’ve known them a lifetime. Resist the urge to downplay the date and make sure to be on your very best behaviour. Your first in-person impression is important, so don’t let that long build up go to waste.
Pick something fun that suits your storyline
Given that you’ve been chatting for a while, you have a bit more of an idea of how your date likes to spend their time, where they like to go or perhaps a favourite cuisine.
Whether you take them out for putt-putt, board games and beers, or to a crafty new coffee shop in the neighborhood, tailor it to your mutual experience of one another to make it that little bit more special.
What to do if the first date fizzles
The day has finally come. You head to the spot with the first date flutters in your stomach… and then one by one those flutters start to fall away. Chemistry has a lot to do with reading the energy of the other person, how well you can communicate with them and how your social cues play off of one another.
Or perhaps your potential mate is not what they seemed to be? Deceptive online dating profiles or online presences are generally considered almost to be the norm, whether that may be a slight exaggeration of one’s personality, or a complete and utter catfish. If your date doesn’t add up to the person you knew online, it’s worth considering whether they might be a dubious character, or if they just wanted to seem more interesting in order to score that first date (Sharabi, L. L. and Caughlin, J. P. 2019).
If your date doesn’t add up to the person you knew online, it’s worth considering whether they might be a dubious character, or if they just wanted to seem more interesting in order to score that first date.
Worried about how it went? Here’s what to do.
First of all: trust your gut.
Is this worth pursuing? If your heart is telling you yes, read on. If not… perhaps this is not quite right for you after all. Sometimes people present themselves very differently online, or maybe they’re not looking for the same things that you are. Either way, you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t had gone on this date, so well done for making the move. This way you know for sure… and you don’t have to look back and wonder what if.
Was it something you said?
First dates can fizzle if you play it too safe. Step out of the safe zone of cookie cutter questions like “do you have siblings?” or “what’s your favourite hobby?”. Taking a little risk may result in a livelier conversation, according to behavioural economist Dan Ariely, but we recommend testing the water first. Try “are you close with your family?”, or gently press on some social issues; e.g “would you consider yourself a feminist?”.
Your date’s responses will also help you analyse whether they are the right real life match for you too.
Send your date a text once you get home and let them know where you’re at. Did you have a great time? Tell them so – and maybe drop a hint for planning the next outing.
Are you a bit worried that your nerves showed through? Perhaps make a joke or a light comment to communicate that you had a case of shyness on your real-life date, to help them set aside any false impressions that you seemed disinterested.
Keep the conversation going
You know how you guys have been talking on the internet for a while? Don’t stop now! Keep up that friendly banter and communication to keep your budding romance ticking along nicely.
Perhaps most importantly, keep up the momentum. Don’t let too much time pass between your next date, lest those nerves build back up or let your partner think that you have lost interest after all.
If it turns out that the sparks just aren’t flying, perhaps a friendship is on the cards instead. No new connection made is a waste of time, when you are learning more about yourself and about others along the way.