The Match Lab

Going on a First Date with Someone You Met Online vs In Person

First dates are tough.

They can feel awkward, nerve-wracking, and outright confusing.

And what’s even more confusing is figuring out how to have a good first date with someone you met online vs. someone you met in person.

Going on a First Date with Someone You Met Online vs In Person

With new dating apps and technology, dating has evolved in recent years. It’s more and more common to connect with people online and less common to go on dates with someone you met in person.

And when it comes to going on a first date, the experience can be quite different depending on how you and your date initially met.

Meet Online vs In Person: Key Differences

Meeting someone online and forging that first connection through virtual interactions can lead to excitement and anticipation building up to that first in-person meeting.

It’s essential to manage your expectations. Online dating is exciting because it lets your mind wander about who someone could be in real life. So you’ve got to keep a level head: Idealizing your online match and thinking that they’re perfect will result in disappointment during your first date.

Now, when you’ve met someone in person, there’s already a certain level of familiarity and proven chemistry seeing them in the flesh.

But, you still need to put effort into making a great impression and fostering a connection on your first official date. Just because they’ve met you once doesn’t mean they’re totally sold on you. And you shouldn’t be totally sold on them. The goal of your first date is to enjoy each other’s company and see if there’s potential for a deeper connection to develop over time.

Comfort and Uncertainty

When you meet someone online, you’ll likely message about common interest, which could make the first date feel more comfortable. You know their likes and dislikes, and you have some topics to discuss on your first date.

In contrast, when meeting someone in person, you might not have had as much of a chance to get to know them or find out common interests, which can lead to uncertainty and discomfort on the first date. Because you haven’t seen a curated dating profile about them, you might not even know their age, job, education, or any basic information about them.

Communication Styles

Meeting someone online allows you to communicate through various platforms like messaging, video calls, or phone calls before meeting for a first date. This can help you understand someone’s digital communication style prior to meeting in person and ease into the date.

When meeting someone in person, you might need to invest more time and effort in getting to know their communication style. You’ll be relying on face-to-face interactions, which some people might find more difficult.

Meeting in person means that your first impression is live real-time conversation. Then, the digital communication (mainly, texting) comes second after that.

This means your first impression is all about how you carry yourself physically and, to a large degree, nonverbally in your body language.

Chemistry and Expectations

Chemistry is an essential aspect of dating, and establishing a connection with someone can differ between meeting online and in person.

When you meet online, you might develop a feeling of chemistry through your online conversations before the actual date. However, these conversations are limited in being a series of carefully crafted messages, lacking any tone of voice or body language, and letting the mind wander about what these messages really mean. Your expectations could be different when you meet in person, which might lead to disappointment.

In contrast, meeting in person allows you to gauge your chemistry through physical presence, body language, and emotional responses immediately. This can lead to a more realistic understanding of compatibility from the start.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Method

Online Dating Pros and Cons

When it comes to online dating, one of the most significant advantages is the incredibly vast ability to connect with potential partners who share similar interests and values.

By using dating apps, you can efficiently filter through profiles and focus on people who match your preferences.

Online dating also allows you to communicate at your own pace, which can relieve some of the pressure associated with first-date conversations.

However, there are some drawbacks to online dating:

  • It’s hard to gauge chemistry without meeting in person
  • Online dating profiles may not accurately represent the other person
  • The abundance of options can lead to a “shopping” mentality, making it harder to form genuine connections

Offline Dating Pros and Cons

Meeting in person offline has its own set of advantages:

  • Meeting someone in person can result in a more authentic connection
  • Non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, enhance conversation and understanding of someone

But it comes with its own set of disadvantages:

  • It can be hard to find people with similar interests and values in everyday life, especially as online dating becomes more and more the norm
  • Offline dating can be more time-consuming and costly

With both online and offline dating methods, it’s essential to remember that forming a genuine connection requires time and effort. It doesn’t usually just “happen.” Real life isn’t a rom com.

Think about the advantages and differences each method offers, and consider how they might best serve your dating goals, so you can see which way works best for you.

And remember — you don’t have to choose just one method. You can maximize your dating success by pursuing both online AND in-person dating.

Choosing the Right Venue for a First Date

Public Places

When planning your first date, consider choosing a public place so that both you and your date feel comfortable and safe.

Places like restaurants, cafés, or museums provide a relaxed atmosphere that allows you to focus on getting to know your date in a safe way.

If you met your potential romantic partner online, meeting in a public place is even more important for safety purposes.

Activity-Based Dates

Opting for an activity-based setting helps to break the ice and create a more enjoyable first date, especially if you’re a bit nervous. Some examples include:

These shared experiences offer an opportunity to bond over a fun activity, while also giving you plenty of ideas for topics to discuss during and after the date.

Casual vs Formal Venues

When choosing between a casual or formal venue for your first date, consider your comfort level, dating goals, and the preferences of your date. Avoid overly grand or extravagant venues that might create a stressful, high-pressure environment. Instead, aim for a more laid-back atmosphere.

For example:

  • Casual venue: Go for a cozy coffee date at a local café with a comfortable ambiance.
  • Formal venue: Reserve a table at a nice restaurant with a versatile menu, pleasant lighting, and romantic feel.

Remember to strike a balance that caters to both your preferences and helps create a comfortable environment to foster connection with your romantic partner.

Preparing for the First Date

Researching Your Date

Before going on a first date with someone you met online, take some time to learn more about them.

If you met online, then be sure to look at their dating profile carefully and try to find common interests or experiences that you can talk about during your date.

If you met in person, then search them on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or wherever else to get a feel for who they are.

Remember to be open-minded when reading up on someone before a date, as online impressions can be misleading.

And most importantly, if you do Google your date online before meeting them and learn something about them, keep that information to yourself. Do not mention it on the date. Pretend you never looked them up, and instead let your date tell you about themselves directly. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve been stalked.

Safety Considerations

Meeting someone for a first date, whether you met them online or in person, requires some basic safety measures.

Always choose a public place with plenty of people around to ensure your safety and comfort. Avoid going directly over to your date’s house, going to any deserted area, or going hiking alone in a remote area.

Inform a friend or family member about your date plans, including the time, place, and the person you’re meeting. This information can be life-saving in case of any unforeseen circumstance. Also, make sure your phone is fully charged before the date and you have a plan to get home safely, whether through driving yourself, using public transit, or using a rideshare app.

Setting Personal Boundaries

To have a good first date, it’s important to set some personal boundaries. Maintain a comfortable level of physical and emotional boundaries during the date, respect your date’s comfort level to increasing degrees of intimacy, and be open and honest about your intentions from the start.

When it comes to using a dating app, be careful with the amount of personally identifiable information you share on your profile if you’re worried about someone knowing exactly who you are. You can stick to the app’s messaging system to communicate before you meet, rather than sharing your phone number as well.

Starting and Maintaining a Conversation on a First Date

Asking Questions

Starting a conversation on a first date can feel challenging.

One way to get the ball rolling is to ask open-ended questions. This helps encourage your date to share more about themselves and avoid simple “yes” or “no” answers that kill conversation.

For example, ask about their favorite travel destinations, what they like to do on weekends, or their experiences related to a hobby they enjoy. By asking a range of open-ended questions and listening actively, you can learn more about your date and find common interests to discuss or new interests to learn more about.

Sharing Interests and Hobbies

Remember that a first date is also about telling your date about yourself.

You can maintain the conversation on the date by discussing your own interests and hobbies and seeing where you and your date overlap.

Before your first date (especially if you met online), review your conversations or the other person’s online profile to remember any shared interests or hobbies that came up. Bring these up during your date and take turns discussing your experiences and preferences. This exchange can create a high-quality communication, and you might even discover new things about each other along the way.

Handling Silence and Conflict

Occasional silence during a conversation is natural, but sometimes, it can feel awkward. That’s ok. Silence moments are perfectly natural on a first date.

Instead of feeling uneasy during them, try using the silence to take a moment to breathe, make a conscious effort to relax, and let the conversation resume organically. Enjoy some eye contact and be comfortable just existing in each other’s presence. Having some lighthearted conversation starters on hand before going on the date can also help to ease any awkward moments.

If you encounter conflict during your date, remember that it’s important to treat your date with respect. If you disagree on a topic, acknowledge the difference in opinion, but avoid getting defensive or argumentative. Focus on coming to understand who your date is and what perspective they bring to the world. By keeping the conversation focused on learning about each other, you can create a more enjoyable experience for both you and your date and appreciate not just what you have in common but also each other’s differences.

Remember, the key to maintaining a conversation during your first date is to be genuinely interested, ask engaging questions, share experiences, be respectful, and stay open-minded.

Dating Etiquette and Behavior

Be Yourself

Going on a first date with someone you met online can be exciting, and the desire to make a great first impression is real, but it’s important to remember to be yourself.

Whether you met online or in person, don’t try to change who you are to impress your date. Let your true personality shine through by expressing your interests, opinions, and beliefs openly. Honesty and authenticity will help you build a strong connection, and your date will appreciate you for it.

Practicing Good Manners

When it comes to first date etiquette, there are a few basic rules you should follow, whether you met online or in person. These include:

  • Arriving on time: Punctuality shows respect and consideration for your date’s time.
  • Being polite: Use basic phrases like “please” and “thank you” when interacting with servers, and avoid interrupting your date.
  • Active listening: Give your full attention to your date, and listen actively to what they have to say.
  • Putting your phone away: Keep your focus on your date, not your phone.

Displaying Humor and Having Fun

One of the best ways to make a good impression on a first date is to showcase your sense of humor.

Whether you’re meeting online or in person, don’t hesitate to share funny stories or make light-hearted jokes. Laughter can help you both feel more relaxed and comfortable on the date, making for a more enjoyable and connected experience.

Remember to have fun during your first date, and don’t take things too seriously. Keep the conversation lighthearted and enjoy getting to know your date in a relaxed, easygoing, nonjudgmental atmosphere.

Getting to Know Each Other

Building Trust

When going on a first date with someone you met online, it’s essential to prioritize building trust.

Ensure that you use honest and open communication to strengthen the connection between you both and listen actively and respectfully to show them that you care.

Try to talk about genuine experiences and avoid creating false impressions or trying to sound “cool. Your date will sense this in an instant. Take the opportunity to share stories, both funny and serious, even vulnerable, to better understand each other’s backgrounds, values, perspective, and life goals.

Discussing Work and Family

During your first date conversations, discussing work and family can reveal a lot about a person’s priorities and goals.

You don’t have to delve too deep into your personal life of theirs, but asking about their work, daily routines, and close family members can help create a sense of familiarity and comfort.

If you are your date have very different work and family lives, it doesn’t mean the relationship won’t work. Often, differences are what a relationship needs for both people to grow together and learn from each other.

Evaluating Compatibility

Evaluating compatibility is one of the most significant aspects of getting to know someone on the first date.

Pay attention to not only what interests, values, and goals you and your date share but also what personality traits your date fundamentally has. Who you and your date are at your core, beneath any interests or hobbies you engage in, will determine your true long-term compatibility.

As the date progresses, be in touch with how you feel when you’re with this person, including your level of comfort, overall chemistry, and desire to continue spending time with them vs. end the date early.

While figuring out compatibility, remember that it’s impossible to determine everything on the first date. Often, meeting someone more than once will provide a better understanding of who they are, who they could become for you, and who you could become for them.

How to improve your dating profile and land more first dates off dating apps

Hopefully these tips give some insights into the differences between going on a first date with someone you met online vs in person.

If you’re on dating apps and want to improve your dating profile so you land more first dates, we have you covered.

We at The Match Lab offer professional services to create dating profiles that attract high-quality matches.

If you’d like to find out which are your most attractive photos to use in your dating profile, give our dating photo analyzer a try. Just upload some photos of yourself, and our algorithm will reveal which photos you should be using in your profile and the ideal order they should go in.

If you’re looking for help with writing your dating profile, then check out our professional dating profile writing service.

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