a first online date.

reader B.L. asks:

This weekend, I am officially going on my first date with someone I met online. I haven’t been on a date in a long time to begin with, and the online part makes it even weirder for me. Any advice?

Dear B.L.:

Isn’t it funny that online dating still has a stigma attached to it, after all these years of the Interwebs ruling our lives? Even finding a date via a classified ad in a local newspaper totally weirds people out. You see it all over Craigslist — “We can tell people we met somewhere else. :-)” You can order gifts online, no problem; you can organize events online, no problem; you can keep track of your photos and friends via social networking; but finding love is just NOT OKAY.

I have often wondered why this is still a problem for so many people today. Even I get a small soupçonne of shame when I tell someone I met a current fling online. But consider this benefit: online dating actually opens up a lot of windows that meeting someone at a bar won’t do. For instance, you get to see their interpretation of their own personality before you ever even meet them. When you read someone’s profile, you have the opportunity to glimpse at how they view themselves. You don’t get that kind of preview at a bar or event.

Still, one of the issues I’ve found with online dating is that, even though you have some chance to get to know them (in a way) beforehand, you can’t predict how the actual chemistry is going to go. Bad lighting, bad breath, a terrible band — these can all ruin your chemistry with someone else you’re meeting for the first time.

Basically with an online date, what you want to do is balance the “I already know you” feeling with a maximized use of your own chemistry. I recommend the following:

Brush your teeth. It’s amazing how many people forget this. It will help give you confidence to have a clean, fresh mouth. Or at least chew some gum.

Avoid the urge to re-read their online profile before you go. This may sound counter-intuitive, but in my opinion, you should try to allow a first (in the flesh) impression to happen without all the gunk that comes with thinking you’ve already got them figured out. Remember — they wrote that profile, and it’s their internal opinion of their external self. Allow yourself to make your own decisions.

Relax. One of the coolest parts about being an adult is that we get to enjoy adult beverages on our first dates. That takes a lot of the sting out of things. I’m not telling you to get sloshed, but have a beer or two and just enjoy the feeling. Chances are the person will like you, and if they don’t, hey, you don’t ever have to see them ever again.

Allow yourself to dislike your date. Don’t stick around if you don’t think there’s any chemistry at all. Some people seem to think that if they give someone at least until the “end of the date”, the person will suddenly turn into a magical person worthy of affection. This isn’t true. Trust your first instinct. If you’re not attracted within the first 10 minutes, it’s not really fair to them to stick around. (Unless, of course, you’re going to flirt relentlessly with the bartender — see below.)

Decide not to care what they think of you. If you go into the date free from nerves and worry, you’re much more likely to be a) yourself and b) enjoyable. Also, if they actually don’t like you, you won’t feel hurt when they leave early or don’t call.

Remind yourself of where you stand on certain issues before you go into the date. While I usually promote throwing caution to the winds and being spontaneous, sometimes spontaneity isn’t the end-all be-all. Make a mental list of things you’re not interested in compromising on. Remember that you don’t have to change your mind about things to impress your date. This includes your stand on politics; your stand on marriage; your stand on religion; your stand on sex on a first date. This last one is particularly important. If you are completely opposed to having a one-night stand, don’t change your mind during your first date with your online friend. Similarly, if you don’t care about politics, remind yourself of that. If you don’t care about what religion a person is, remind yourself of that.

Have fun. Even if your date sucks as a person, make the experience a good time for yourself. If that means you have to leave early, do so. If it means you’re going to flirt relentlessly with the bartender, do so. Your enjoyment of the situation is completely up to you, so decide early on to make the best of it, regardless of how your date feels.

What’s that? You wanted advice on what to wear? No way. You already know what you want to wear. C’mon. You know you do.


2 Responses to “a first online date.”

  1. 1 Zach Keller
    March 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Watch this… and then I want a comment. 🙂

  2. 2 Zach Keller
    March 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    This applies to the post as well…

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