Tips firstdate

Last updated on July 7, 2015 | by Aet Suvari


How Soon To Meet Offline?

In this day and age it should hardly come as a surprise that science has an answer for everything. Of course, there are numerous questions being asked about online dating and scientists keep pondering how to make daters’ lives easier…

Different algorithms attempt to define our best matches, our dating preferences, character types etc. Whether you believe in those things or not is a different matter but inventing most of these tests and evaluations have taken a fair deal of scientific effort.

Getting To Know You

One interesting piece of research that has recently been conducted by American scientists from different universities is trying to figure out the best time when online acquaintances should meet. The study, which wins the prize for the most convoluted headline… deer love‘When Online Dating Partners Meet Offline: The Effect of Modality Switching On Relational Communications Between Online Daters’ tries to find a simple answer to the age-old question: how soon should you arrange a date with someone you’ve met online in order to have the best chance of hitting it off.

We’ve all been there and know how it feels. You start talking to someone online which soon turns into genuine interest and flirting. You send a few messages or perhaps a few dozen messages – or even a few hundred messages, if you’re the shy type – but the time of asking each other whether you should get together to meet offline for a coffee or dinner inevitably rears its head at some point.

Yet you don’t want to rush things either. You want to find out some more about the person you’ve only just started talking to online. Do you share a similar set of values, laugh at the same type of jokes, or even dig the same music scene? Beyond all that it’s just useful to have some prior conversation topics to expand upon before you meet up face each other across a table. Then there’s the question of whether you have real life chemistry or not – but that’s a whole other can of worms which we’ve discussed previously. but before you even get to that you want to have an idea of who the person is beyond a few photos and a brief profile description.

The Sciencey Bit

Still, the scientists who have conducted the aforementioned study have suggested that waiting too long to meet offline might not actually be to your advantage at all. According to them there’s a certain limit to “getting to know each other” online, after which your relationship in real life is much less likely to be a successful one.

robot lovePublished in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication the study sets out to determine whether the success of real life meetups is related to the amount of online communication prior to the date – and it turns out that it has a very direct effect on the chemistry between the two of you. The longer you wait the bigger the disappointment is likely to be.

The scientists conducted a survey of over 400 online daters and found out that there’s a certain ‘tipping point’ of 17-23 days after which you’re much more likely to feel disappointed in your date.

Why is that? One of the scientists, the lead researcher Artemio Ramirez who works as an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida in Tampa, USA explains that before that tipping point the “impressions and idealisations are at that peak, the most positive level that they’ll be prior to meeting face to face”. After that they start slowly dropping and so do the chances of your relationship working out.

Great Expectations

Again, you can ask why that is. The scientists explain: “Daters who wait too long before meeting face to face may risk developing idealised impressions that will be violated upon meeting (in real life). The potential for this is particularly likely in the online dating context, given that daters are prone toward making small and strategic self-enhancements on their profiles.“ Again – very true. You can’t truly KNOW someone, no matter how many times you read his or her profile, exchange emails or even chat on Skype. A human being is a whole package and in order to make conclusions about the whole package you need to actually sample it as a whole package, not just bits and pieces.

elephants love

Otherwise you end up like one of the three blind men in the story about an elephant – one feels the trunk and thinks the elephant is like a rope, one feels the leg and thinks the elephant is like a tree and the third guy feels the tusk and concludes the elephant is like a solid pipe. The problem with human mind is that it tends to fill in the gaps – which also inevitably happens while online dating. You see a profile you like, you talk online – and after a while your mind has a clear idea of the person you’ve been talking to. The longer you spend talking online the more sure you are about what you see in your mind’s eye. The reality, however, is always different and if you wait too long, the disappointment and disillusionment is going to be inevitable.

Come to think of it this makes a lot of sense. Also, if you don’t really match well with your date – wouldn’t you find it out sooner rather than later and not waste your time on someone who you’re not really suited for? We know that meeting up in real life is no piece of cake! It can make you nervous and self-conscious but we suggest – give yourself a chance. And now we can rely on science to back us up too!

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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