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Tips for a First Date with an Online Match to Have a Great Time

Online dating can be super scary. You never know what to expect. Here are tips for a first date with an online match to keep it safe and fun.

tips for a first date after meeting online

Imagine this: After a cycle of deleting and redownloading a dating app, you finally decided to take a leap and go on a first date. It’s understandable to feel apprehensive about it – a first date with an online match can be nerve-wracking. The uncertainty, the nerves, the worry about potential catfishing or being stood up – these feelings are all normal.

But here’s the thing: once you take that step, it’s often not as intimidating as it seems. Sure, some dates might not be what you hoped for, and some might even fall flat, but many others can turn out to be pleasant surprises. With a bit of confidence and an open mind, first dates with an online match can turn into enjoyable, and sometimes enlightening, experiences.

So… You Agreed to Meet Up

Deciding to transition from online chatting to a real-life meeting is a significant step in your online dating journey. It’s not just about the excitement or the butterflies, it’s about feeling ready and confident in your decision.

This is how to know when you’re ready for that first date with an online match, what signs indicate a promising connection, and how to ensure safety and trust in your choice.

1. Have You Had Consistent Communication?

Regular and meaningful conversations are a cornerstone of getting to know someone. If you find that your chats have been consistent over a period of time, it’s a sign that both of you are genuinely interested in each other. [Read: 48 rules & texting etiquette for guys AND girls in the early stages of dating]

Consistency here means more than just frequent messaging; it’s about the quality of your interactions. Are they engaging, respectful, and progressively getting more personal?

2. Are Your Conversations Going Beyond Superficial Topics?

Progressing from small talk to more substantial topics is a positive sign. It suggests comfort and trust in sharing and discussing deeper aspects of life, such as values, passions, and personal experiences.

This depth forms a strong foundation for a meaningful face-to-face interaction and signifies that you both are genuinely interested in exploring beyond the surface.

3. Do You Feel Excited at the Thought of Meeting Them?

Excitement about the prospect of meeting someone is a natural, positive reaction. It reflects a genuine interest and a desire to take the next step.

However, it’s important to differentiate between excitement and anxiety; the former is a good indicator, while the latter might suggest you’re not quite ready or have reservations.

4. Is There Mutual Respect and Interest?

Look for signs of mutual respect and interest in your interactions. Does the conversation flow both ways, with both parties asking questions and showing interest?

Mutual respect also means respecting each other’s boundaries in conversation and showing understanding and patience.

However, if they’re already downright rude or dismissive during your interactions, imagine how they could be in person. If such behavior is evident online or over the phone, it often doesn’t improve face-to-face. [Read: Is he interested in me? 36 signs he’s smitten & really attracted too!]

5. Have You Discussed Meeting Up Previously?

If the idea of meeting has naturally come up in your conversations, and you both have expressed a positive attitude towards it, it’s a strong indicator that you are both considering taking things offline. This mutual inclination to meet is essential for moving forward confidently.

6. Are You Feeling Pressured to Meet?

Feeling pressure, whether self-imposed or from the other person, is not a good foundation for a first meeting.

The decision should come from a place of genuine interest and readiness. If there’s any sense of reluctance or discomfort, it might be better to wait until you feel more secure.

7. Do You Have a Plan For Your Personal Safety?

Having a safety plan is paramount. This means choosing a public place for the meeting, informing a friend or family member about your plans, and maybe even setting a check-in time during the date.

Your comfort and security should always come first, and preparing accordingly is a sign of responsible dating.

8. Is Your Life Currently Stable Enough for Dating?

Reflect on your personal and professional life. Are you in a place where you can invest time and emotional energy in someone new?

If you’re experiencing significant stress or major life changes, it might affect your dating experience. Ensuring you’re in a stable place can lead to a more fulfilling dating journey. [Read: Small ways to deal with big changes in your life]

9. Have You Recovered From Past Relationships?

It’s crucial to be emotionally available when you decide to meet someone new. Make sure you have moved on from past relationships and are ready to open up to new possibilities.

Meeting someone with unresolved feelings from past relationships can complicate your experience and might not be fair to either party involved.

10. Do You Know Exactly What You’re Looking For?

Before you step out the door, take a moment to clarify your intentions. Why are you going out on dates? Is it merely to pass the time, find a casual hookup, or are you in pursuit of a serious relationship?

Understanding your own goals can help you communicate more clearly and avoid any misunderstandings with the people you meet. It also ensures that you’re aligning your efforts with individuals who have similar expectations, reducing potential frustrations.

Knowing what you want can lead to more targeted, fulfilling dating experiences, and can help you steer clear of situations that don’t align with your personal objectives.

Tips For a First Date With an Online Match

Everyone’s dating preferences differ. Some people like a laidback first date while others prefer dirt biking or an escape room. These tips for a first date after meeting online will keep you calm, cool, and collected.

They could even lead to a second date.

Plan and Prepare

Before you go out with your online match, you should be aware of what you’re getting into and who you’re doing it with.

1. Do a Mini Background Check

Ask for a social media profile that has at least two years’ worth of activities. If they don’t have one, you should probably think twice about going out with them.

It’s going to be difficult to find that person in case anything happens, because they don’t exist online. If you have any common friends, ask those people about the person you’re going out with, as well. [Read: How to catch a catfish – online fakers revealed]

2. Create a Dossier For Your Date and Send it to a Trusted Friend or Family Member

Prepare a picture, a screenshot of a video call, and a list of pertinent information, like their name, address, and phone number. Relay all of this to your friend, so they can use it in case anything goes wrong.

3. Set up a GPS tracking system

Use your phone or a different one that’s hidden on your person or your purse. Make sure that it has a tracking app, enough data to last the night, and a full battery pack. It sounds extreme, but you’ll thank me when you get home safe and sound.

4. Get Yourself a “Guardian Angel”

This is the friend that will keep track of your activities all night. Make sure that your friend has no prior engagement that night and know that you owe them big time after this.

They should have access to your GPS, and you should communicate with them every so often until the end of your date.

5. Choose a Location That’s Fair to Both of You

The purpose of this is for you to have a suitable exit strategy in case the date doesn’t go as well as you expected.

Apart from that, choosing a location that’s easily accessible will allow you to exit gracefully and efficiently, in case you get stood up. Sorry… but it really does happen.

The Main Event

Now that you’ve taken the necessary precautions for your first date with an online match, it’s time to brief you about the date itself.

6. Simple is Best

If you prefer coffee dates, they’re a great choice because they’re simple and flexible—you can stay for 30 minutes or a few hours, whatever feels right. But if you’re more into evening activities, getting drinks is a solid option too. [Read: Things to talk about when you’re drunk with your date]

If you’re concerned about the pressure of keeping the conversation going, consider a bar with darts or board games. These can be great icebreakers during any lulls in conversation. Just be cautious with activities like escape rooms or bowling, as they can lock you into a set amount of time.

7. Arrive Independently

The internet can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to be cautious. It’s best to drive yourself or take a cab or Uber to your date.

Sharing your home address before you’ve met someone in person might not be the safest choice. Plus, having your own transportation means you can leave whenever you’re ready.

8. Mind Your Freshness

Surprisingly, this needs to be said: pop a mint before you step out of your car. And while you’re at it, a quick spritz of perfume or a swipe of deodorant can go a long way.

Avoid going overboard, but it’s important to show that you care about your hygiene. Bad breath or body odor can be distracting and leave a poor impression.

9. Have a Story Ready

It’s always good to have a funny or interesting story up your sleeve. Whether it’s a bizarre dating experience, a funny incident at work, or a unique personal story, having something to share can be a great conversation starter. A lighthearted anecdote can help break the ice and make the date more enjoyable. [Read: 84 intellectual, deep conversation starters & topics to bond with anyone]

10. Timeliness Matters

Being punctual shows respect for the other person’s time, so aim to be no more than five minutes late. If the idea of waiting alone makes you nervous, time your arrival so you’re right on schedule.

Waiting in your car until your date says they’ve arrived can help manage those first-date jitters and give you a moment to freshen up and compose yourself.

11. Keep Your Phone Out of Sight

Yes, you want your phone so you have an out if you need one and to show them photos of your puppy, but keep it out of sight. Even turned down at the table is a little much. Keep it in your bag or pocket.

Sure, if they go to the bathroom, you can whip it out to fill in your nosy friends, but if it is on the table it will distract you.

12. Listen

Nerves can cause us to word vomit. You can go from answering a question about where you went to college into your dream job and future plans. Slow it down and remember you are getting to know each other.

Instead of interrupting their work story with the fact that your brother used to work for the same company that they interned at, let them finish before replying. [Read: Ways to be a much better listener in a relationship & read their mind]

13. Be Inquisitive

It’s easy to get caught up in how you’re presenting yourself and responding to questions, but don’t forget to show interest in your date too. Remember, the date is about both of you. If they share their profession, for example, ask if it’s what they’ve always aspired to do.

Curiosity can lead to more interesting conversations. If they mention an English Lit degree but now run a tech startup, delve into how they made that leap.

Asking follow-up questions not only shows that you’re actively listening but also that you’re genuinely engaged in the conversation. This back-and-forth can really help in forming a connection.

14. Keep an Open Mind

This is one of the hardest things to do on a first date. It is nearly impossible to lose all expectations, but try to let some things go. It may be easy to let go of the fact that your coworker has differing political views or your brother-in-law still listens to Drake, but try to be open-minded.

Sure, you have your limits and dealbreakers, but try to get the whole story. If your date says they live with their parents, do not write them off just yet.

They could have moved home to help their parents out. Don’t assume you know everything about this person. If you do, you could miss out on something great because you were too strict. [Read: How to open up to people and welcome life in]

15. Embrace the awkwardness

Perfect dates happen in perfect worlds. Here on Earth, drinks are spilled, first names are forgotten, and laughter is punctuated with snorts. You and your match may even find yourselves at a loss for words IRL. The best thing to do under these circumstances is break the ice by acknowledging the awkward energy.

Addressing the quirks head on will show your date that you’re down-to-earth, and put them at ease.

16. Try to be Yourself

It sounds so obvious to be yourself on a first date with an online match. Duh. You want this person to get to know you, not the “perfect” and agreeable you, or the chill you when you are more neurotic. If you really want to give this a fighting chance, be yourself from the start.

But as we say that, I know how difficult it is to be vulnerable and just let everything out. If you are yourself 100% and get rejected, it hurts more than if you were a little bit more this or that. But if you do not take that risk of rejection you won’t find what you’re looking for.

17. Be Respectful

This is one of those tips for a first date after meeting online that should be a given, but some people still find it acceptable to make sexist jokes or crude comments upon meeting someone new, when in fact it isn’t okay ever. So if your date wants a handshake instead of a hug, be okay with that.

Respect their dietary restrictions, their allergies, their level of openness, and their choice to stay or leave. Dating is hard for everyone, not just you, so treat them how you want them to treat you.

18. Do Not Talk About Your Ex

This is a piece of dating advice that has been told for ages, and for good reason. Do not go on and on about your ex. First of all, it is disrespectful. Secondly, it is a turnoff. And finally, it proves you are not ready to be dating.

With that being said, we think talking about past relationships is totally okay. You can say you learned a lot about what you want from your last relationship.

Or you can say you have been more careful since you were cheated on or you take things slower now. Sharing what you have learned shows maturity, just don’t dwell or complain.

19. Give it a Chance

Ignore the idea of a spark or instant connection. It is great when that happens, but more often than not that initial spark doesn’t lead to much else. A slow burn could be exactly what you need.

Even if you aren’t initially attracted to your date, settle a bit. Getting into a good conversation can let you see another side of them.

20. Offer to Pay

This is totally personal preference, but we always say you should offer to pay on the first date. Some men feel like it is the chivalrous thing to do and some women want to make sure their date is okay with them being independent and financially stable on their own.

Even if you are fine with your date paying, making the reach is the polite thing to do.

21. Keep the Drinks to a Minimum

Going out for drinks can help calm first date jitters. But keep the drinks to a minimum. Order a glass of water between each refill or share some fries to fill your stomach.

A drink or two can help you loosen up and be less on guard and more open, but drinking too much can lead to a handful of uh-ohs. From puking to passing out to making a fool of yourself, have a drink limit in mind beforehand.

If you are worried you’ll get carried away, get there early and ask the bartender to discreetly cut you off after two or three drinks. [Read: Tips to make a great impression with your behavior on a date]

22. Maintain Eye Contact

Sometimes, you might feel a bit disconnected at the beginning of a date. If this happens, try focusing on making eye contact. This small change can significantly increase the sense of connection and comfort.

Eye contact is not just about looking at someone; it’s about engaging with them. It can spark interest, enhance your listening skills, and keep you more attuned to the conversation. This simple act can transform the dynamics of a date and create a stronger bond.

23. Let Someone Know Your Plans

Here’s a crucial piece of advice for safety: always tell a trusted friend, family member, or sibling where you’re going and who you’re meeting.

It’s wise to share the name and phone number of your date as a precaution. This step might seem like an overcaution, but it’s a sensible safety measure, especially when meeting someone from online for the first time.

24. Don’t Prolong the First Date

It’s easy to lose track of time if you’re having a good conversation, but try to keep your first date with an online match reasonably short. A lengthy first date might inadvertently give the impression of deeper interest than you actually feel.

For instance, a coffee date that turns into dinner and stretches for hours might lead to misunderstandings about your level of interest. Aim to keep the first date under two hours. This timeframe is usually sufficient to get a good feel for each other without overcommitting emotionally or time-wise.

25. Keep the Date PG

It’s entirely up to you how physically affectionate you want to be on a first date, but a general tip is to keep things relatively light. A kiss at the end of the night can be a sweet way to express interest, but it might be wise to not go much further than that initially.

Remember, it’s about what you’re comfortable with. Even if the chemistry is undeniable, taking things slow allows you to keep a clear head and often leads to better outcomes in the long run. It’s important to remember that you’re still getting to know this person. [Read: The complete guide to help you decide how many dates before sex]

26. Be Honest About Your Intentions

If you are only interested in a casual fling, make sure they know that. If you desire a committed relationship, fill them in. If you are just getting out there and aren’t sure what you want, tell them that too. You don’t want to lead someone on. Being on the same page is always smart.

What To Do After the Date

No matter what happens on your date, you have to be prepared for what comes after. If you can’t tell whether it was successful or not, just stay positive. But don’t fixate on it because it’s still too early to tell whether or not you’ll end up together, anyway.

27. Accept the Outcome

This was a first date with an online match, not a marriage. So relax. It didn’t work out, too bad. Whether you didn’t like them or they didn’t like you, you have only spent an hour or so together. Try to remember this was one hour out of your life.

We know with all the pressure, stress, and nerves, it seems like a lot is riding on that one cup of coffee, but it is just a date. [Read: Signs you’re unintentionally ruining your first dates]

28. Follow Up

For crying out loud, please do not ghost. If you aren’t interested, they will be fine. Let them know you had a nice time but didn’t feel it and wish them the best of luck.

If you are interested, text them the next day saying you had a great time and would love to do it again. Waiting around is no fun for anyone. [Read: The texting and followup guide after a great first date]

29. Watch Out for Red Flags

We know we are big believers in being open-minded, but some things are just not good news. There are some things you need to get more information on, but other things you need to watch out for.

If they won’t tell you their last name, watch out. If they have a tan line on their left ring finger, question that. If they are a bad tipper, get out of there ASAP. [Read: Why you should run if you see these early red flags]

30. Take Time to Reflect

After your date, take some time to think about how it went. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and overlook certain things in the moment.

For example, if your date said or did something that didn’t sit well with you, even if it seemed minor at the time, don’t just brush it off. Like if they made an inappropriate comment about someone else, it might have stung briefly, and then you moved on.

But it’s important to consider these behaviors, as they could indicate deeper character traits that might be problematic in the long term. Reflection helps in understanding your true feelings about the date and the person, and whether their values align with yours.

31. Politely Decline If You’re Not Interested

If the date didn’t sit well with you, it’s best to tell your date how you feel before they assume that you still want to go out with them. It’s okay to do this over the phone, because you’re not intimately close with them, anyway. [Read: Signs your date really likes you on your first date]

It’s Just a Date!

First dates are just that– first dates. If things don’t go the way you’d hoped, there’s a good chance you’ll get a free meal and an anecdote out of the deal. Be your awesome self, and do what feels right.

Hopefully, these tips for a first date with an online match will guide you into your next meet-up with confidence, assurance, and an open mind. And who knows, you may just find the one too!

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Samantha Ann
It was always my dream to become an advice columnist, so after years of off and online dating and eventually finding a wonderful relationship, I have decided to...