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Online Dating Etiquette: When to Meet In Real Life

Two people who are practicing good online dating etiquette my meeting up in person on a date.

You’ve been messaging your online crush for a while and you know the feeling is mutual, so now what? The obvious next step is moving things offline and meeting in person. But how long should you wait before you go on a date, according to correct online dating etiquette?

We asked Shannon Tebb, Boutique Matchmaker and Dating Consultant, and Stacie Ikka, a nationally recognized matchmaker and dating coach, for their expert opinions on how to approach meeting in real life.

Do Some Research Beforehand

It’s not that you don’t trust your new love interest, but safety always comes first, which is why some people might choose to do some research on their dating prospect before meeting up. Tebb agrees. “See if you share mutual friends on social media outlets and ask them for their opinion,” she says. “This is a good screening technique and can help save you time rather than meeting for the date and regretting it.” Another tip? “If their compliments are of a sexual nature and you’re not interested in that, this should be a sign to cut communication,” says Tebb. “This is when it’s best to turn someone down politely.” Also be wary of someone who is prying for details on where you live and work.

Make Sure You Feel Comfortable

For some people, waiting until they’ve received certain signs are a good enough indication whether they should meet in person. Tebb recommends having exchanged at least three to five solid online messages that include a good rapport, similar interests, and give you an overall sense of comfort.

Meet As Soon as Possible

If your research stacks up and you’re feeling confident and secure about meeting in person, then Ikka suggests meeting sooner rather than later. “I don’t mean with a sense of urgency,” Ikka says. “What I do mean is to meet them with as little online communication as possible.” This approach might seem counter-intuitive to some, but there are advantages to meeting with someone ASAP.

You could feel that spark, or not, within as little as fifteen minutes of meeting someone in person compared to over fifteen days of carefully worded emails online. “You can’t get a feel for someone from behind your computer screen,” says Ikka. “You can make inferences and form opinions, but the only way to know for sure if there is chemistry (or the potential for chemistry) is to meet them in person and get a sense for their IRL vibe.  From there, you can see how your vibe gels with their vibe.”

Also, meeting someone rather quickly quells any fantasy you might be harboring about the other person. “It’s very easy to find yourself in a non-relationship that feels like a real relationship when you’re playing the get-to-know-you game online,” says Ikka. “As the messages are ping-ponging back and forth, hopes are getting higher, expectations are being set, ideals are being realized, pedestals are being elevated, and people are securely on those pedestals.”

Meeting someone in person as soon as possible will force you back to reality. From there, you’re able to decide whether you want to continue a real relationship with this person. If not, you can always head back online and connect with your other matches.

It’s easy to get caught up in in messaging and getting to know someone online, but it’s important to remember that things change when you meet in real life and the dynamics are different—and that difference can be amazing and exciting! All conversations should eventually lead to meeting up. It’s a natural progression of getting to know someone. And, let’s not forget, it’s also just proper online dating etiquette. So mind your manners and meet up for a date.

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