You’ve jumped the hurdles of starting a profile at an online dating site, and you’ve even gotten past your fears of chatting with online strangers. Now you and a special someone seemed to have hit it off—because you are emailing back and forth and back and forth.
Pretty fun, right? At some point, though, one of you needs to pop the question: “Do you want to meet?”
Meeting in person can be frightening. It reminds me of that scene in You’ve Got Mail. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are both hesitant about meeting in person for the first time, because they are worried about the endless possibilities. Will this person actually be like the person I’ve been emailing? Will things be awkward? Will there even be any chemistry?
That’s why, so many times people just don’t pop the question at all.
It becomes a vicious cycle. In a way, it’s easier just to email and not do anything to further the relationship because: 1. If things don’t work out you don’t want that feeling of rejection, or 2. If things do work out then that can be a scary change (even if for the better).
Keeping things online can be more safe and comfortable. It stays exciting when it’s just online. You get to dream and think and not have to deal with reality. So why mess with a good thing?
So the question you need to ask yourself is this: Why are you on a dating site in the first place?
If the answer is to “meet someone” or find your “soul mate” then meeting in person has to be part of the process. Sure, it’s scary, and sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. Here are some tips to stop the endless emailing and go on a date already!
- Don’t wait too long to make progress. If you’ve been emailing back and forth with a guy for months and still haven’t met, then the time for meeting in person may have passed. There is a good window of opportunity for meeting, and it’s within the first 1-3 weeks of taking your relationship to a regular email level. That’s because things are new, you are both in the “discovery” phase of each other, and you are eager to learn about each other. Wait too long, and you’ll become too comfortable, the excitement will wear off, and you’ll both look for the next person on the dating site.
- Move things to texting. This can be a simple but important step. If you can move from emailing to texting pretty easily, then you know you’re both all in. Just text back and forth once or twice a day and see how things go.
- Then move things to talking on the phone. Talking on the phone can be nerve wracking for a lot of people, but it’s really important for you two to hear each other’s voices and carry on a “real time” conversation together. Give it at least two tries; if things are boring or weird, then you’ll know it’s ok to move on. But if the conversation goes well, then the next step should be meeting in person.
- Mention “let’s meet” and see what happens. If the other person is excited, then great! But if not, or if you make plans and he or she makes excuses, you’ll know they aren’t ready or aren’t that committed to meeting you in the first place. Time to move on. It’s not worth it emailing someone who doesn’t want to take things to the next level; just mention that if he or she does want to eventually meet, to contact you.
- Keep it casual. Just meet for coffee or a shake. Sit together for 20 minutes in a public place and make small talk. Easy, right? Keep that first meeting short and it’ll put less pressure on both of you. You don’t even have to call it a “date” if you don’t want to. But you could make another date after then if things work out. The big question after this initial meeting is—do you two have potential?
- Set an “official” date. Now you’ve gotten this far—congrats! It can take a lot of time and worry, but try to keep a fresh perspective on this first official date. This is the chance you have been waiting for, so dress up, go someplace nice, and get to know this person “in person.” This is a chance to see if you two can spend a longer amount of time together, and also if you have chemistry. You already know a bit about him or her—after all you’ve been emailing for a while—so make this date a time to dig a little deeper and find out about your date. Hopefully afterwards you’ll keeping emailing and keep dating.