Recently a friend of mine, Jo, asked me via the twitter, which dating sites her roommate should look into.
After giving her my opinions, she convinced him to join OkCupid, "OkC."
Now, having never experienced the magic that is online dating, Jo's roommate is having a little trouble going from Internet to In Real Life, "IRL."
So I'm going to offer up my advice on how to make the jump, but I know there's a lot of other dating bloggers out there who have also made the jump - so I know that Jo and her roomie would appreciate your advice as well!
We've come a long way from the first couple of internet dates in chatrooms, which started with the ever so creepy A/S/L. I see that and my skin literally starts to crawl. Internet dating is getting popular, but since it is a newish frontier (consider it the 21st century gold rush, but instead of gold there's dating up in 'dem dere hills!') people need to know how to actually do internet dating...
In my opinion, there are various steps to going from talking with someone on the interwebs and transitioning into that first meeting.
1. You don't want to appear too intense - suggesting you meet each other on the first couple of messages back and forth is a little intense. If you're a guy it could come off as pushy and agressive, which will push the potential away and if you're a girl it comes off as you doing the chasing.
After devouring more blogs than food in the last 72 hours trying to figure out if I should break OssumOctober and make the first-ish move, I've learned that guys like chasing (granted I knew this before hand, but the blogs Ive read confirmed). Let the guy ask about meeting IRL first. Guys - PICK UP ON HINTS. If you mention something about going to the Baltimore Aquarium and the girl says, "oh that sounds really cool, I've never been." <---- that's an opportunity to say, "Hey well would you want to go with me."
2. You don't want to appear like you're avoiding meeting - if a guy has offered a round of hot chocolates at the starbucks, a plate full of delicious at the eatery, or a couple of drinks at a bar, and you keep turning him down for this reason or the next (and it's not within the first few messages). You're being kind of a biatch. Granted yes, maybe you're new to the whole dating thing, but here's my thought - If you're on a dating website to date people/meet people, then you should be getting out there and doing it. Hovering around on the interwebs and just sitting there developing online relationships without meeting isn't healthy. They have chatroulette.com for that of interaction - if you're willing to get past all the penises.
3a. How long till you ask/meet - My guideline is 2-3 weeks depending on how intense the messages are. If the two of you are exchanging 500/1000 word messages every day, then you probably know more about each other than you would get to know someone at a bar. Those kind of messages exchanged everyday/every other day shows that you're both interested in getting to know each other better, especially if the messages are riddled with questions and genuine excitement in learning about the other person. If the messages are essentially running from about 50-200 words mark then more than likely I'd wait a little while, allowing you to get to know them a bit better before you jump into the real world together.
If you wait longer than say a month - you've essentially become pen pals, and it will become difficult to make that transition from messaging to talking in person. Take it from me and my own pen pal internet friend. If he wasn't so cute I'd cut it off, but at this point in time (see 5 months of emails back and forth) I can't make myself break on the investment... I seriously doubt I'll ever meet him, but I never know when I might need to know someone with a hobby farm out in the backwoods of Virginia. Probably never, but meh. Maybe one day he will get some horses, which I can bribe him to let me ride - I seriously would give someone my kidney to let me ride horses.
3b. What kind of meeting should you make - probably something light and easy. I'd go for drinks or coffee, that allows you to make the transition 1. cheap and 2. breezy. and 3. casual. These kinds of meetings allow you to get another drink if it's going well or let's you back out if they're two shades away from creeperville.
4. Where should you meet? - PUBLIC PUBLIC PUBLIC. I cannot reiterate this enough. If you are meeting someone for the first time via the interwebs, ALWAYS meet in public and NEVER give out your home address. NEVER. This isn't about not trusting a person - it's about covering your bases and protecting yourself. Always let a friend know the name of the person you're going to meet, where you're meeting, and their phone number for safety (especially if you're a girl). While internet dating is becoming mainstream and we've all seen that comercial where one in five relationships start online, there are still people out there that are psychopaths, and you NEED to make sure that you protect yourself. The craigslist killer seemed like a nice normal man too, until they found out he was murdering the women he was meeting.
I recently read an awesome post by DateMeD.C. - her blogging has stopped but you can catch her over on the twitter. The post essentially goes through all the thoughts of someone who believes that the person she's meeting could murder her, luckily they did not, but you shouldn't have to go through those emotions. If you play it safe and keep your wits about you. You wont put yourself into that awkward and stressful position.
5. BE ON TIME - This is just first date etiquette from the get go. You never know if the person you're meeting has carved out an hour to meet you or 20 minutes. If they've carved out a brief time to meet and you're 10 minutes late, that's a big deal. You wouldn't show up to a job interview late, don't show up to a first date late. However, there are some circumstances where it will happen, THANK YOU WMATA - I love how efficiently you run the metro. So if you are going to be late, and you know it in advance, text them to let them know.
6. Have fun and be yourself - Remember dating is supposed to be fun. Just because you met someone off then internet instead of in college, doesn't mean that you shouldn't treat them the same way. On that note a lot of times people will change their persona when they hit internet dating because they want to stick their best foot forward, but you really miss out on letting someone know who you are if you refuse to be yourself, because you're only offering up a 2-dimensional characature of you versus the 3-dimensional person that you are. For example, no one wants to watch TV with shallow uninteresting characters. So, why would they want to date one?