The first time you meet a potential match, it is NOT a first date. No, that’s not a typo. The first time you meet a potential match, it is NOT a first date. Let’s call it a 'getting to know you' session, a 'meet and greet,' or a 'meetup.' Anything but a first date.
When daters think of this first, real, live, encounter as a ‘first date,’ there are automatically millions of expectations — the biggest of which is that if sparks aren’t flying, you should move on. This drives me CRAZY partly because I’ve been there before, and I know how something this simple can affect your entire online dating experience.
Online dating is not like meeting people in the real world. It’s great that you get to communicate prior to meeting and check each other out via profiles, but your potential matches are still strangers. I know it doesn’t feel like they are strangers because you’ve been emailing and maybe chatting on the phone too — but they are. When you meet someone out in the real world for the first time — on the subway or in a bar — you don’t feel fireworks like it’s the fourth of July, either. Well, depending upon your blood alcohol level, that is. What you do feel though is something special, something budding, something that could possibly grow. That’s why you exchange numbers. Keep in mind that your first meeting with a potential match should feel just like that.
Keep it brief, too. Don’t make plans for anything that will take longer than 40 minutes and leave within an hour and a half. Plan something casual like grabbing a drink or coffee on a weeknight or weekend day. Avoid Friday and Saturday night when a bigger commitment is expected, and do NOT accept dinner plans right off the bat. If you’re really enjoying each other’s company and a few drinks turns in to dinner ... well then it seems like you’re in luck! You’ve moved from meet and greet to first date in one day. Pass go and collect $200. This is not how most first meetings will go, though.
Another tip from the eFlirt expert? It’s particularly easy to deny someone a real first date due to lack of initial sparks when you get caught up in the web of dating on the web. One minute you decide on a whim to join a dating site; the next you are inundated with emails, and your social calendar fills up quickly. If the immediate spark is missing it’s easy to write him or her off because you still have other dates scheduled over the next few weeks. Try to stay in the present when you’re on a date, as well as immediately before and after. If you feel initial chemistry, you should go out with him or her again and see where it leads. Trust me, you’ll know for sure after a REAL first date!