Meeting in Person WithYour Singles and your Online Date


The amount of time between that first e-mail and a first in-person date varies from person to person. That’s one of the benefits of online dating—you can take your time and enjoy the communication with words only. Or you can plan a date right away and find out the answers to questions that will linger until you meet. Either way, it’s important to keep safety in mind, along with a few other things to make sure your first date goes smoothly.

Cyber dating is a little different from other first dates. When you first meet a cyber date in person, offline, you feel as though you know them—the normal first date precautions are often tossed to the wind. You know their favorite actors, authors and foods. You know everything they have told you, but they may not have been telling you the truth. You do not really know them! So treat them as strangers, use all the normal precautions you use with strangers, even cute ones. You should not give any more information to a first cyber date than you would to a stranger you meet on a plane, or in a club or in a bar.

You should move from fantasies and chatting online to a phone call before you meet offline in person. You can learn a lot about another person during a telephone conversation. You can hear the tone of their voice, their attitude and their ability to communicate. You should also ask any questions you have, and be careful if any answers they provide do not match what they have said previously.

The safest way to have a phone conversation is by using a public phone. Set up a time for the call, and give the other person the telephone number of the public phone. Once you are comfortable enough, you can share real phone numbers, but make sure you have caller ID service. If things go sour, you can always block their calls. It also lets you know what their number really is. If they block your caller ID, do not accept their calls.

Be natural when you meet in reality. And be honest (of course you should be honest online, too!!). Work on getting comfortable with each other and don’t rush things!

The first time you meet in person plan a meeting in a mall or fast food restaurant. The key is to make sure there will be plenty of other people around. As a safety precaution, it is highly recommended to have friends sit at another table in the cafe to wait until your date is over. This is a great tip as you can never be too safe.

Plan for a short first time get together—coffee or a soda. Tell them in advance that it will just be for a few minutes, so they will understand. Treat this as a blind date, only with more care. In a blind date, someone you know knows this person. In a cyber-dating situation, no one really knows this person. If they insist on meeting you alone, do not go.

Of course, the vast majority of dates will turn out to be perfectly normal, safe people. However, quite a few of them can be boring, annoying or just plain unattractive. For this reason, plan for a short first date. Dinner or a few cups of coffee won’t take more than an hour or so, so even the worst date will be over soon enough. If all goes well, you can plan for more lengthy dates in the future.

Then compare what this person told you about him or her online—does it match reality? If not, find someone else. Remember the honesty thing–you might be lonely, but you are still safe.

Make sure someone knows whom you are meeting, where you are going and when you are coming back. Store all of the e-mail conversations and let your friend know where to find them. If anything goes wrong, they will be the source of information on how to locate the person you have been chatting with.

You can extend the meeting to dinner or anything else in a public place. Remember when your mother told you never to get into a car with a stranger? Do not go home with them or to a private place of any kind. Take this slow, even if you are not used to taking dating slow. These are special circumstances.

If things go wrong, whether you followed the rules or not, go to the police. Give them all the facts. If you do not report this person, they in all likelihood will do it again. You are allowed to say “no” and have it respected. If anything goes wrong, it is not your fault

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By Mark Creighton

Mark Creighton is a seasoned relationship specialist and expert with a rich background in psychology and counseling. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and went on to complete his Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC). Mark’s passion for understanding human behavior and relationships led him to pursue further education, and he holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Stanford University.

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