There may be nothing more exciting (and stressful) in online dating than meeting someone in the flesh for the first time. You’ve chatted and traded emails-is it time to test out your match in the flesh? You’ll find there is only one sure way to answer that question: to dive in and give it a shot.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when taking this exciting step.
Letting friends and family know
The odds that anything bad happening to you when meeting someone from an online dating site are very minute (especially if you’ve put in the time getting to know each other). Nevertheless, it’s always smart to be prudent rather than rash. Making sure someone in your family or friends knows where you’re going and whom you’re going with is a smart way to put yourself at ease. It’s also a good idea to carry a cell phone with you on your first date, in case anything should occur.
Familiarity is best
When planning your first meeting, it’s best to choose a place you are comfortable in, or at the very least familiar with. This way you don’t have to worry about things like finding the meeting point, what to order once you’re there, or how to dress. Going somewhere you know well will also help take your mind off any nervousness you may have, and allow you to focus solely on the single you’re meeting.
Common meeting point
If distance is an issue, or if you can’t decide on a meeting place, a good idea would be to settle on something both of you know. This may be a public square, pedestrian street or shopping mall, as along as it makes you both feel as if you’re on “home turf”. Remember that the more comfortable each of you feels, the easier you’ll be able to open up and test out your potential for love. Restricting initial dates to public places, like restaurants and cafes is also the best method to ensure your safety.
Stick to the daytime
It’s always a good idea to limit first dates to daytime activities, like going to an outdoor café or marketplace. This isn’t to say that something bad will happen if you schedule your first date at night, but meeting during the day will take some of the pressure off and help create a more relaxed atmosphere. If the weather is nice, it will also allow you to take a walk together, which is a prime opportunity to show-off your talent for spontaneous plans and activities.
Dress for success
Even if you’ve spent weeks emailing or talking on the phone, you have to remember that this is still the first time you physically meet, and as such, you have to think about making a good first impression. It’s not necessary to rush out and buy an entire new wardrobe, but you should definitely dress the best you can. Find out where you are going and pick clothes appropriately (no high heels on a nature hike, for example). Make sure everything is cleaned, pressed and matching, and remember that it’s usually better to be subtle and classy than flashy and over the top.
Is it right to bring gifts?
Many singles often feel they are required to bring flowers or chocolates when first meeting an online acquaintance, but this isn’t always the case. Remember that there are no rules written in stone when it comes to online dating (or dating in the real world), so the decision to bring a gift is entirely up to you. A nice way to tackle this issue is to consider topics you have talked about, or specific interests your new potential match might have. Bringing a small gift related to something they are passionate about is a very thoughtful gesture that will score you many points. Remember though to keep the price under control, as spending too much money on someone right off the bat might come across the wrong way.
Steer clear of the beer
There is nothing wrong with sharing a bottle of wine or even having a beer at a bar together, but keep in mind that moderation is never more important than when first meeting another single. The last thing you’d want to do is drink too much and either get sick or act inappropriately. Keep the consumption under control and drink each other in.
Keeping it simple and fun
When you meet your online dating acquaintance for the first time, it is mostly an opportunity for the two of you to test your compatibility in the flesh. As such, you should do what you can to keep the date simple, fun and worry-free. Spontaneity is definitely exciting, but things like skydiving and paragliding might be best saved for later dates. Focus on activities that allow the two of you to talk and get to know each other. Try getting a table at a quiet bistro both of you like, or consider a walk along the waterfront and a stop at a nice quaint coffee shop. In the end anything will work really, provided you both are relaxed and enjoying each other’s company.
Like offline dating, meeting another online dater for the first time can be hit or miss. There’s always the chance that the spark you felt online will not work in the flesh. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the Internet chemistry you felt will only blossom in the real world. You’ll never really know unless you try. Staying safe though, and keeping these tips in mind will at least ensure a good time in the process.