When is it best to meet a match?
Communicating with matches online is very safe, anonymous and gives you a chance to find out enough about a match before deciding to meet in person. When you do this will depend on factors like your location and personal circumstances. Here are some general guidelines which can help you decide when to move contact offline and begin the process of building a relationship.
If a match lives locally, meeting up will obviously be easier than if they live far away. The need for lengthy exchanges of emails is diminished as you have the opportunity to meet up for a ‘pre-date’. You could learn more about a person in ten minutes face-to-face than any number of emails. If you take the standard safety precautions and let someone know where you are going, there is no reason why you shouldn’t meet local matches for a quick coffee if you both feel comfortable and willing.
This is a particularly good approach for people who lack confidence in their writing skills and for anyone who gets very anxious about proper ‘dates’. The prospect of spending a whole evening with someone is much more daunting than half an hour in a busy coffee shop, and it is also much cheaper than a conventional date. If you ‘click’, then a real date can be set. If not, neither of you have invested too much time or energy for it to be a real loss – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
With matches who live further away or ones who are hesitant to meet quickly, the move to meet in person will probably arise when a firm foundation for a possible relationship has been established. Through the exchange of emails, instant messaging and phone calls, you will get a sense of how much of a connection there is between you and a match – shared interests, lifestyle compatibility, sense of humour and a good rapport are all positive signs that will move the relationship forward.
While this approach may give you the reassurance that you know who you are meeting and the odds are in your favour for a possible romance, the danger is that expectations can become too high. When your imagination has been working overtime and you have already developed an attachment to someone, if there is no chemistry when you meet it can be much more disappointing because you have invested time and emotional energy into the relationship.
There are no hard and fast rules as to when you should meet a match, but a limit of six weeks is suggested as a maximum for keeping communication solely online. By six weeks you can expect the question of meeting up to have been raised, even if the possibility of it happening hasn’t yet arisen. It is also natural to expect by this time that you will have exchanged phone numbers and have heard each other’s voice, or even seen each other virtually via Skype. If you are still only communicating online via the site at this stage, the chances are that this connection is not going to blossom.
Taking the initiative
You might prefer the suggestion to meet up to come from the other person, but if it isn’t forthcoming you can give them a gentle nudge. By letting them know when you have a free weekend or asking what their plans for the holidays, are you are inviting them to ask to meet with you.
There are many reasons why someone might not take the initiative but there is no reason why you can’t do it yourself, the worst that can happen is that they say ‘no’ – at least then you can move on and connect with other, more promising, matches.
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