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Last updated on February 25, 2014 | by Aet Suvari


To date or not to date? The online/offline question

Isn’t it great when two people are totally in sync when it comes to arranging to meet offline?

When they agree in unison that, yes, now’s the right time to take the online conversations further and meet up for a REAL date.

This does happen but quite often it’s not quite so clear cut whether you should take things further or not. If you’re facing this dilemma, we have some tips for you:

1) Don’t ask to meet up with someone in the first email. A lot of people do that and I understand why they do it – they don’t want to waste their time with someone they don’t ultimately have some chemistry with. But this is dating not nipping to the supermarket for a carton of milk! Most people realise that at the end of the day it comes down to chemistry, to physical appeal, to looks etc., but they would still like to see at least some kind of an effort put in to trying to get to know them. What’s the hurry? Take some time, send a few emails, ask a few questions. If you’re the impatient type, you could say so on your profile, this way people know that you’d like to meet up as early on as possible. People appreciate it if you give them some space before asking them out and this way it’s also more likely that you’ll get a yes.

2) Never ask anyone out – or accept an invitation yourself – if you don’t actually feel ready for it yet. There’s never a surer to screw things up. Trust your instincts. If for some reason you don’t want to go on a date (yet), don’t go. There’s a polite way to postpone it by saying thanks but you’re just not ready for that yet – or tell a little white lie if you have to!

3) Look for clues. Let’s say you’re sure and you feel ready but you’re not convinced it’s the right time yet to ask. There is no sure-fire time when it’s acceptable to ask someone out. It could well be after a few emails, but some people also want to chat for longer online before they meet up. If you want to be sure your invitation doesn’t get declined, look for little clues in what your online date says. Are they keen to reply to your messages? Do they ask questions? Are they open and approachable? Are they keen to exchange phone numbers or chat on Skype? If they seem keen to chat, chances are they’re also keen to meet up.

4) If you’re still not completely sure you should ask someone out or not, drop a few hints yourself. Asking for a date doesn’t have to be a big deal. You could say something along the lines of: ‘There’s a great exhibition in X Gallery, I would quite like to see’ or ‘Oh you’ve never been to the Y Cafe? I could take you there sometimes if you like’. There’s tons of ways to ask someone out without actually ‘asking’ them in case you’re worried about being rejected. If you haven’t really asked they can’t really reject you.

5) Just say it. The best way is still the most straightforward, honest and confident way. If you like someone, admit it. Who wouldn’t like to hear it? Let’s say you’ve been chatting online for a while and you’ve liked what you’ve seen and heard – just say: I think you’re really funny/smart/lovely. Would you like to meet up/go for a coffee/check out a new show/venue/bar with me to see if we get on as well in real life as we do online? There’s no need to put any pressure on the whole matter, no need for big words and declarations that could possibly make the date awkward and nervous. Just be chilled about it but at the same time show you’re interested and curious about getting to know them better.

Taking online dating offline is always a bit nerve-racking, no matter how many times you’ve done it. It’s ok to feel a little nervous about it, we all do. But don’t put yourself through anything you really don’t want to do. I’ve had trainwrecks of dates – only because I rushed into them and/or didn’t bother to wait and get to know the person before going out with them. One guy I met up only because I liked his username! Suffice to say we both ended up extremely disappointed with the date. And all this could have been avoided if I had only read his profile beyond the username.
So don’t do what I did. You can turn your online dating experience to a pleasant and successful one instead of nervous and embarrassing. It really is in your own hands.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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