Going from the Web to the Real World: Three Tips for Meeting In Person

So you’ve found someone on a dating site that you actually click with. You exchange some winks, some flirts, some chats… Yep, definitely a match. So now it’s time to plan the first in-person meetup! After all, that was the point of making an online dating profile in the first place, right?

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Getting ready for the first in-real-life meeting can be stressful. Where do you go? What do you do? Most people know that they should plan the first date for a public place (it’s safer on both sides that way), but beyond that, what’s the best option? Judy Cole of Men’s Fitness had some tips for guys looking to plan the first face-to-face experience with a new flame, and really, these tips can apply to guys OR gals.

  1. Go on a real date. This seems obvious, but many people who meet for the first time after an online connection do it in super-casual places, like Starbucks. Treat this like a date with someone you already know in real life. You don’t necessarily have to pay for a whole meal, but choose a decent restaurant, a classy bar for drinks, or a pleasant al fresco lunch spot. Make it feel like you care about the effort your date put into getting ready and meeting you, because they probably DID make an effort.
  2. Watch for telltale signs of trouble. On a first date, it’s easy to ignore or completely overlook red flags in the other person. Watch for things like a date who asks too much about how much money you make, doesn’t look or seem very much like her online profile, or is already planning several dates down the line. My brother recently started dating a new girl, and in under two months, she was talking about what their wedding would be like. That’s a huge no-no, and when it happens, you have to be ready to split. Don’t lie to yourself about what your dealbreakers are or what you’re willing to put up with: a red flag is a red flag. Even if it’s nothing in particular that bugs you about the other person! Our gut feelings are often a great indicator of something being just not quite right. Follow your instincts.
  3. Know how to get out safely, if you need to. Women are told this a lot, but it applies to men, as well: Aside from meeting in a public place, you should know where the exits are, tell people where you’re going, and have a plan to get out if things get hairy. Sometimes, that means having a friend call you partway through the date in case you need an excuse to bail. Again, this isn’t a negative thing for either side of the meetup. This is a safety thing. Meeting someone in person when you’ve only known them online is a risk, and even though the vast majority of first dates from dating websites go fine, it never hurts to be prepared.