You did it! You logged in and stepped up to the dating plate. Congratulations!
You are online and navigating through profiles and even started communicating with some potential suitors. That wasn’t so hard, was it? I hope not, because it only gets more interesting when you finally decide it’s time to meet the person you’ve been messaging.
Now the tricky part: The first meeting. Notice I use the word “meeting,” not “date.” Your initial meeting should determine if you want an actual date with this person. Because the reality is that sometimes the person who shows up is not who you were expecting.
Men are often not as tall as they claim (5’10’ is apparently the new 6 feet) and the aging process must happen overnight in some cases—in his picture, he had a full head of hair!
Women know the tricks too, like handy filters and flattering photo angles.
Obviously looks aren’t everything, but first impressions and meeting someone’s expectations go a long way in an already intense situation. There is a moment of relief when the person who walks up is the person you imagined.
Either way, every first meet-up needs a plan—including a built-in exit plan. Here are some surefire tips:
1. Brief is better. First meetings should be in a public place with a clear beginning, middle and end.
2. Avoid meals, a ride, or anything that involves tickets for your first meet-up. If it doesn’t go well, you’ll avoid lengthy awkwardness.
3. Allowing 30 minutes for your first meeting is ideal. This gives you enough time to say hello, ask a few questions and observe them in action with those around you.
4. Set the parameters early so you are respectful of each other’s time and schedule. Restrictions like getting back to work, or a book club meeting later that evening are acceptable reasons you can’t stay long. Discuss it before the meet-up so no one’s feelings are hurt and no one is scrambling to figure out how or when to part ways.
Here’s a list of activities that take 30 minutes or less and cost from $0-$10 for a first meet-up:
1. A cup of coffee
2. A beer or cocktail
3. A walk in a local park (or a dog park)
4. Hitting a small bucket of balls at a driving range
5. Going for ice cream
6. Meet at a farmers market
The end of your drink or walk makes for a perfect opening to say goodbye. If you’d like to meet again, share that (and your phone number and last name if you haven’t done so already).
Also, if your meet-up met or exceeded your expectations, there’s nothing wrong with extending your meeting into a date. I give full permission to turn that coffee into lunch or drinks into dinner. And how funny will it be when you reveal to him that there actually was no book club scheduled tonight?
We all have our “worst first date” story so clearly there is something to fear. If you don’t do proper vetting—a.k.a. a pre-date meet-up—they may continue adding up. And in any case, don’t give up—the reward is just too good.
Send Maureen your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.