It’s difficult to gauge whether or not it’s safe to meet someone you encountered online, especially now that social media’s making it easy to fake identities, resumes, and even the lives that people live. This may be a non-issue for online daters, however; you’ve already delved into the unknown.
That is why, before you decide to dabble in online dating, you need to make sure that you’ve covered all your bases and that you are as safe as you can be in a world where serial killers exist. Make sure your GPS is on and that you give a friend bi-hourly updates all throughout the date.
When should you meet your online date in real life?
Now that we’ve covered the very minimal basics of staying safe, it’s time to find out when you should meet your date, to get the most out of your connection.
A bunch of scientists decided to study the progression of these relationships by looking at how long it took couples to meet in real life. Although they couldn’t localize what happened during the encounters, they decided that the timeframe might be just as revealing.
The idea is that couples may be following different patterns in terms of deciding when to meet their partner, when they should be considering the importance of time and how it affects the relationship in the long run.
Even if you don’t know who your online love is, there’s a lot of evidence suggesting that getting to know them in person makes for a better assessment of whether or not you’re the right fit for each other. So, when exactly is the best time to meet your online date?
According to the results of the study, the couples who met after a brief online interaction were more likely to be successful in starting a relationship. The subjects reported that they felt good about their prospects, in terms of how they communicated.
They expressed positive reactions towards relational messages like intimacy, composure, informality, and social orientation. To simplify, it means that the subjects who met earlier felt more at ease with one another. [Read: 14 important do’s and don’ts of online dating]
Why is it better to meet earlier?
The results bode well for possible relationships, because the subjects succeeded in experiencing the normal nuances of how relationships play out when they start in real life.
That’s not to say that online dating doesn’t work; it’s just a different game. You have the same players, but the rules are tweaked to accommodate the rapid pace in which a couple gets to know each other.
By choosing to introduce yourself online, you are giving people access to your social media profiles like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. It’s a show of good faith to share your online life with a stranger, but that same online life is easy to manufacture.
This is why meeting in person sooner, rather than later, is a good idea: you don’t have to rely on what they put out on social media—because 90% of the time, it’s a lie. A well-intentioned lie, to be sure, but a lie nonetheless.[Read: Catfishing revealed – How to catch an online liar red-handed]
Why you shouldn’t wait too long to meet your online date
But what if you’re not ready to meet someone? Why would it be detrimental to your future relationship?
If you prolong the inevitable face-to-face date, you’re actually subjecting yourself to more opportunities to study your prospective date in a light that’s not suitable for new relationships. You will end up judging a person based on their online history, as opposed to actually considering their personality in a personal setting.
You can’t gauge a person’s feelings through text alone. Even if you use video calls, you won’t see the nuances of face-to-face reactions. There’s also the factor of how we work as organisms.
There needs to be proximity in order to initiate a bond. As eloquent as you are through text, nothing beats real-time conversations. You react immediately when faced with a question—and even if you don’t, there’s no way to escape the conversation without looking like an asshole in a restaurant.
When you don’t go out with your online date as soon as possible, a lot of things might change the way you feel about each other. Misplaced punctuation, a tagged photo of an ex, or even a misplaced social media rant that was posted years ago can all negatively influence how you perceive your prospective partner. Admit it: we all go five years back when we get someone’s social media link. [Read: 10 kinds of online posts you make that’ll turn off potential partners]
And, because of our social media stalking tendencies, we start to judge people by what they have said online, rather than who they are in real life. There is a big difference between how we act online as opposed to how we react offline. It’s more real. It’s more honest. It’s more reliable.
What happens when you don’t go out with your date immediately?
When we rely on a person’s online information, we start to fill the blanks using social media, rather than real-life interaction. While you continue to prolong the inevitable moment when you’re supposed to meet, you’ve arrived at certain conclusions that may or may not be true.
The unfortunate fact is, you’ve already pre-judged this person based on what they’ve stated online. Without the necessary answers from their end, it could end up being a negative assessment of the person as a whole.
Anybody can be guilty of this, but that just goes to show that conversing with a person while looking into their eyes, noticing the way they move, and how your own body reacts to them is a better measuring tool than going through a detailed questionnaire on their dating profile. [Read: 18 body language signs to know for sure if you date likes you on your very first meeting]
How do you decide when to finally ask a person out?
The outcome of the study doesn’t offer much in terms of specific timelines, but we can provide you with a list of factors to consider when deciding when to ask your online date out.
#1 Background checks. We’re aware that not all of you have skills that would put the FBI and CIA to shame, but you can still rely on social media profiles to gauge whether or not a person is telling the truth. Just cross-reference the facts they’ve offered during your conversations with their social media profiles. If your instincts still tell you that something’s fishy, get out of there fast.
#2 Ask your common friends *if there are any* if they can vouch for this person. You can also ask friends of friends, so you can get a better idea of whether or not you can trust this person. Don’t worry about people thinking you’re a stalker; it’s better to be safe and well-informed than to end up with an asshole—or worse.
#3 Do they exist? Not everyone has an online presence, but when it comes to online dating, you have to make sure that your date is easy to find. It’s possible that they are lying, but it’s easy to check whether or not they’ve existed long enough in cyberspace to validate their claims. For security reasons, it’s best that you don’t go out with anybody who doesn’t offer their social media links, or if you can’t Google their name and workplace.
#4 Trust your gut. Most of the time, your instincts will tell you if you’re making the right decision. No, you don’t have proof of any wrongdoing, but you’ll never get any at this point. So, the best thing you can do is follow your gut, hope you made the right choice, and never look back.
[Read: 30 effective tips to help you win at online dating]
Although online dating is tricky, there are enough studies on the subject to give you an idea of what is best. Although there is no exact time frame scientists discovered, most studies indicate that the amount of time between online meeting and in-person meeting is an indicator of relationship success. So, stop dragging you feet, and get to wining and dining your online squeeze!
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