When You Meet a Match Offline

woman looking backOnline dating has created a unique situation.

It’s now just as easy to fall for someone two cities away or across the globe as it is to fall for the guy or girl next door.

But meeting an online date out of town and in person poses some special dating and safety concerns. What’s the protocol when that fantastic guy or woman you met online lives four states or provinces away?

Stephany Alexander, author of Sex, Lies & the Internet says, “At a minimum, you should correspond via email and telephone for a couple of months to get to know each other as well as possible. Exchange many photos, not just a few, as some daters swap old, out-of-date photos or take glamour shots. Talk about your hobbies, goals, what you are looking for to see if you are compatible.

“If you have the ability to get a real first and last name,” Alexander continues, “I recommend doing a full background check on the person on websites like intelius.com or knowx.com to make sure you aren’t getting involved with a convicted felon. If you think you are dealing with someone who may already be married or committed, I recommend phoning consistently between the hours of 8 and 10 pm.

Look for Red Flags Before Meeting a Match Offline

“If your potential date always has an excuse for not being able to answer the phone or always has their phone turned off, you may be dealing with someone who is already involved because this is the time period people spend with their family and partner.

“Pay close attention to any red flags during the long distance courting period. If something doesn’t feel right, research deeper. Ask a lot of questions and take your time. For example, if someone says they are a doctor, ask them a bunch of medical questions to see how they answer. Listen to your gut instinct.”

It is important to use the same safety guidelines you would for an offline date in your own city. First, don’t give out too much personal information, and be sure to let someone know where you’re going and who you’ll be with.

Set Realistic Expectations and Don’t Get Over-Excited

Second, stay in a hotel. Never ever stay with someone you don’t actually know. If you can’t afford to stay in a hotel, skip the trip for now. Keep your hotel location — or at least your room number — private (just as you would your home address), and get to and from the date/hotel via your own transportation, either a rental car or a taxi.

As romantic as it might seem to have your date pick you up from the airport, it is especially important to take safety precautions when you are out of town. Finally, as tempting as it may be to spend a week with your new online romance, remember that online chemistry doesn’t always translate: keep your first trip short and sweet (two days max) until you’re positive there’s a real connection in person.

Alexander advises, “Pay for all expenses yourself and meet at an arranged time in a public place. The person traveling should pay for the majority, if not all, of the travel expenses because if the other person pays for everything, something may be expected in return. However the travel expenses are covered, be sure everything is communicated clearly beforehand.”

She also suggests that daters “be sure to let someone know what your plans are and let your date know that others are aware you have a long-distance date. For extra security, ask someone to phone you at a certain time to see how things are going. If things are going really bad, you could use this as an emergency bail-out call.”

Sometimes, a weekend away makes a first date feel like an actual relationship, especially when you’ve known each other for several weeks or months. But Alexander says, shorter dates are better, at least in the early stages. “If things are going great, you can always delay your flight; but if they aren’t, you can bail quickly.”

How Will You React if There’s a Spark?

And what should you do if love at first click turns to hate at first sight?

“If you hate each other at first site, be polite and kind anyway. Try to make the best of the situation by going somewhere or doing something you both enjoy, have fun and then part ways with no hurt feelings. If one person likes the other but the feeling isn’t mutual, the same applies,” says Alexander.

Unfortunately, the online bait-and-switch still occurs occasionally on long-distance dates as well.

Alexander says, “I had a personal experience where I met a man online who lived two states away. We exchanged a few photos, talked on the phone for months and corresponded via email wonderfully. He told me he had his own printing business, his own home and drove a sports car. He seemed kind, funny and I was smitten.

“After corresponding a few months, we decided that I would fly out to see him and have dinner and then I would fly out later that same evening. I insisted on paying for all my own travel and we agreed he would pay for a nice dinner. When I landed, I didn’t recognize him at the airport because the two photos he had sent me were over 10 years old!

“He picked me up in his ‘sports car’ which turned out to be a 1970-something, beat-up, dirty, rusty Chevy. His ‘successful’ printing business turned out to be a copy machine and printer in his parent’s basement where he lived.

“Needless to say, I was furious and could barely get through dinner. He had the nerve to hit on me repeatedly throughout dinner and I couldn’t get on my flight home quick enough. Therefore, I can’t stress the importance enough to screen, screen and screen some more.”

Your best bet is to meet in a city you’ve always wanted to visit. That way, even if your long-distance date is a dud, your weekend won’t be.

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By Lisa Daily

Photo source: antclausen.com

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