It’s the new year and your online dating profile is looking good. You’re already having some interesting conversations with potential love interests online.
At some point, there’s going to be the first date.
Taking your online conversations to a “real life” first date can be a thing to navigate. Dating sites see a surge in popularity this time of the year, so it’s likely that your first date with someone new may happen soon.
Don’t psyche yourself out about the importance of any one first date, but do approach it with the following guidelines in mind. To keep yourself safe and improve the chances of a second date, follow our tips below:
Know who your date is before you meet
1. Check out your date’s social media profiles if you haven’t already. If you don’t see any linked accounts to their online dating profile, or the information from one social network to the next is not consistent, consider this a reason for more research before you meet in person.
2. You should conduct your own background check on your date. Online dating sites don’t typically conduct criminal background checks on their users, which means anyone you talk to online could be a scam artist, sexual predator or catfish. It’s up to you to do your own research.
3. Talk to your date on the phone. Don’t meet someone you’ve never met before without hearing their voice and using your own judgment and common sense.
Meet in a safe, public place
Choose or suggest a public setting for your first date. No exceptions. If your date insists on meeting somewhere that sounds private, you might be talking to a sexual predator.
Here are some good potential places:
• A coffee shop.
• A bowling alley.
• A casual restaurant.
Places you do not want to meet at on the first date:
• A fancy restaurant.
A first date can be awkward already, so don’t add the pressure of trying to impress your date with an expensive meal.
• A bar.
Loud, crowded and always within an arm-reach of alcohol doesn’t make this a suitable first date place.
• A movie theater.
You don’t have to opportunity to talk to each other, so save it for another time.
• Your home.
Never go to your home on the first or even second or third dates – for safety reasons.
• Any other private or secluded setting.
The consequences of meeting your date for the first time at one of these places range from awkwardness and making your date feel uncomfortable…or in some cases, much worse. Being in any secluded or personal environment with a stranger can be dangerous.
During the date
• Be yourself. If you lie or aren’t genuine, you’re defeating the point of dating in the first place.
• Don’t share the same drink.
• Don’t drink alcohol. At all. Just don’t do it. Logically speaking, too many bad things can consequently happen. A first date is not the time for alcohol.
• Have an exit strategy if things aren’t going well; like calling or texting a friend.
• Have your own transportation to and from the place you meet.
First date red flags:
Be skeptical of someone who seems…
• Too eager to become involved.
• Overly interested in your finances.
• Overly interested in the intimate details of your past relationships.
• Overzealous in their efforts to please you.
• Temperamental (example: they yell at the barista because their cappuccino wasn’t frothy enough).
Plus, these defining factors that should cause you to consider moving on:
• They make demands about their order, then complain about the food.
• They blame their exes for failed relationships.
• They say they hate cats or dogs when you have one.
• They spend the date only talking about themselves, instead of learning about you.
• They talk about their views on politics, human nature, religion or money, which reveal much different beliefs than your own.
• They check their phone incessantly.
• They’re more interested in watching the football game than having a conversation.
Having a good time (and going on a second date)
Safety on the first date is imperative. But it’s not the only thing you’re anxious about. Questions about if the person will like you, how awkward it will be, what you should say, etc. all circulate in your head. Having a fun first date could be a good indication that a second date is on the horizon.
Ignore the butterflies and have a successful first date:
• Be genuinely curious to get to know them, and show that by asking questions.
• Tell a friend where you’re going and when. This will give you peace of mind and hopefully the ability to relax more.
• Focus on the moment. You should just be focused on getting to know your date instead of getting caught up in excitement or fantasy.
The first date is an exciting opportunity to discover someone right for you. However, due to the nature of online dating, there could be potential dangers too. Follow our guide and always use your own instinct too.