From Winks to Drinks: Four Tips for the First Date

You’ve met someone online that you seem to really click with. You’ve exchanged messages, shared personal details, and expressed an interest in meeting IRL (in real life). Sometimes, this is the biggest hurdle to online dating: taking the relationship from cyberspace to personal space. Here are a few tips to help you make that leap as smoothly as possible.

1. Don’t wait too long to set up an in-person date. Some people email, text and chat for days, even weeks, before they try to venture into a real-life setting, and by then, the pressure is really on. Instead, if you’ve exchanged a few messages and you seem to be a good fit, set up the date now. Waiting doesn’t help anything except to make the other person think maybe you’re not all that interested after all.

2. Pick the right venue. You need to meet somewhere in public for the first time, so you can both be comfortable. Don’t pick someplace trashy or low-brow, like a parking lot or a fast food joint. By the same token, don’t go over the top with a fancy schmancy dinner. Instead, try a trendy bar for drinks, or a fun bistro for lunch. Places like this keep it a bit casual without being TOO casual, and they allow for talking in relative privacy so you can get to know each other better.

A cozy bar is a nice spot for a first date... just watch those drinks.

A cozy bar is a nice spot for a first date… just watch those drinks.

3. Safety first. Women hear this a lot, but it matters to men, too. When meeting someone from the internet for a date, you have to consider your personal safety above all. Meet in person, have a charged cell phone on you, know where the exits are, and NEVER leave your drink alone. Both men and women have been the victims of date-rape drugs and other awful situations, so even if you think you know this person really well already and you can totally trust them, err on the side of caution. It’s worth it.

4. End on a good note. If you like the other person and want to see them again, suggest another meetup before the first one is even over. Something like, “Hey, if you’re free this weekend, I know a great club a few blocks from here.” Then follow up within a day to confirm the plans. If you DON’T like the other person, be straightforward about it. You can say something like, “I’m really glad I had the chance to meet you in person. I’m sorry that I just don’t feel the chemistry that I hoped I would, but I hope you do find the right person!” They might get upset, but at least you didn’t leave them hanging.

If you’re just not sure whether you want to see them again, suggest that you touch base via text or email again soon. You can say something like, “This was fun, I’m glad we could get together. Let’s text later and see how we both feel about doing this again sometime.” Then definitely text the other person within a day or two so they know you weren’t just blowing them off.

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