Meeting people from the internet is not scary or dangerous 99% of the time. If you’re stalling doing online dating because you’re scared of eventually taking it offline, I’ve got some pointers below. But first, a little squeeee of a story:
I met J for the first time last night!
J was hired at Geek’s Dream Girl just over a year ago and wrote her first post on February 23, 2009.
We’ve been working together since then, chatting nearly every day, and despite having never met in person, struck up a pretty good friendship. (Also, quite ironically, she and I both lived in the Orlando area several years ago and have mutual acquaintances.)
Since she was traveling to Baltimore, we decided to meet up for dinner – AND IT WAS AWESOME.
I’ve lost track of how many internet friends I’ve met in real life. It started when I was in high school and I met a (much older) guy that I used to chat with in an AOL chat room about classical music. (I didn’t tell my mom until afterward. She flipped out. Funny part – the guy and I are still friends today!)
Before Meeting: Doing Your Homework
I strongly advocate speaking to someone on instant messaging and/or the phone before agreeing to meet in real life. Emails have the delicious backspace key, which means they can be edited and re-edited until they say exactly the right words.
For example, one guy I met on Match.com seemed perfect. He was handsome and smart and a dentist. When we started to chat via IMs, I offhandedly mentioned a gay couple I’m good friends with… and the guy began to spew homophobic garbage. Really glad we didn’t meet in real life.
Experience the person as unedited as possible before the real life meeting. That way you’ll know much more than what their profile tells you.
Also Before Meeting: Do Your Research
There are people who are for and against Googling potential dates. I say go for it. You can learn a lot about someone from where they hang out online.
Don’t write someone off for a weird hobby you don’t understand. Only use Google to rule someone out in the case of extreme red flags – like finding out that cutie is really a member of the KKK.
Setting It Up
We all know that the first date with a person you’ve never met should be in a public place. This makes it harder for potential axe murderers to wield their weapon of choice.
Feel The Fear – And Meet Up Anyway
I have met countless of people I only knew online. Some of them were online dates, some of them were friends of friends, some of them were internet buddies from chat rooms, forums, or blogs. Nowadays, I’m getting to meet readers of this blog and former clients – which is totally cool!
That being said – I still get butterflies. I still get a bit nervous before meeting internet folks – and that’s okay. J and I had a funny little moment where we both sat down and were like, “Whoa, there you are. Like, right in front of me with no computer in the way.”
Don’t try to push down the fear and nervousness. When you’re meeting someone for a first date, this is even MORE natural and normal. Find something to repeat to yourself that calms and centers you while you’re waiting for the big moment. Take a deep breath and sigh audibly. (This works like a charm to release tension!)
If You’ve Built It – It’ll Stand. Usually.
If you’ve taken the time to get to know the person over the course of a week or so via emails, IMs, and phone, once that initial hump of awkwardness is over, you’ll slip into where you left off.
It shouldn’t crash and burn. You shouldn’t be killed. You may emerge with a funny (to other people) story, but recovering from a bad first date isn’t too hard. Just brush yourself off and move on.
If It Goes Well…
It was so great for J and I to finally meet after working together for so long. We slipped right into the same conversations we have online and the time just flew by. I wish we could have had longer to sit and chat and I’m hoping we can get together again in real life really soon.
Even if a first date doesn’t go spectacularly well, you can say that you have another meeting encounter under your belt and perhaps even a new friend!
If it does go spectacularly well, than all the work and stress and fear was totally 100% worth it!
What About You?
How many “internet people” have you met (dates and non-dates)? Do you get nervous? What do you do or say to yourself to combat the jitters?