Ah…you’ve connected with a man on Match.com, Bumble, eharmony.com or one of the other zillions of ways, and it’s time for your first date. When it comes to online dating first dates, you need to know an important truth:
Online dating first dates are not really dates.
I love the idea of women using online dating to meet men. I met the love of my life on Match.com. So, of course, I sing its praises whenever I can.
Now, as a dating and relationship coach for women over 40, my clients are all using online dating or apps to varying degrees of success.
Pamela’s lovely beau is the first man she met online; Heidi went out with about four men before she met Tom and started her (so far) two-year relationship with him; Peggy is on Bachelor #26 and happy that she’s just having a good time dating for the first time in her life.
Myself, I met Larry after many years of using online dating. (That’s why I can give so much advice about what not to do!)
Of course, this is only one way of meeting single men.
Don’t forget the grocery store, Sierra Club hikes, your friend’s parties, and blind dates set up by your friends and relatives.
(My mom’s friend set me up once, and the guy took me to a Roy Orbison concert — which was pretty cool once I figured out who he was. But the guy wore stripes and plaid together. So, of course, I never went out with him again. But I digress.)
When you’re using online dating, if you remember nothing else, remember this: When you meet for the first time after connecting online, it’s just meeting; it’s not dating.
I have 10 Tips to Help You Get Past the Meet-Date to the Real Date. (If you want to, that is.) Here are Tips #1 – #3.
1. When it comes to online dating first dates, the meeting is not really a date.
The purpose of the “meet date” is only to determine if you want to go on a real date. It’s not to get to know each other in any big way. Most men see it this was. It’s a time to find out how he feels being with you and if he wants to get to know you better.
If he does, he’ll ask you on a real date.
(This is exactly how it went with my husband. Meet date was very casual at a coffee shop during the day. Real date was at one of the best restaurants in town in the evening. Then on to cocktails.)
So, if a man doesn’t suggest a fancy or romantic place for your meet date, or present himself as overly serious about impressing you or looking for a relationship, he may just be waiting for the real date to wow and woo you. If you see any potential for him to be a man you enjoy being with, say “yes” to the real date!
2. Be positive and realistic.
Stay positive in the belief that you will find your special man who will rock your world. But be realistic by remembering that the majority of the men you meet won’t be The One. (Dating is a bunch of “nos” until you get to that one magnificent YES!)
Having these realistic expectations will serve you well in managing your disappointments. If he’s not The One, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun; and if nothing else, it’s just more practice for when you do meet him.
3. Put your best foot forward.
Everyone, men and women alike, has negative attributes and secrets; and everyone worries about when to share them. The answer may be complex and depend on the situation, but the sure thing is NOT to share them on the meet date or often even the first date.
Divorce details, family problems, medical issues, friends or other men who have betrayed and disappointed you are off limits. (There are some things you want to bring up early on, after your first meeting. When you do, there is a way to share that gives him the 411 he needs while maintaining your boundaries.)
If he asks or brings it up himself, respond with one or two sentences of a positive nature and sway the topic elsewhere. For example, when he asks about your divorce: “It was difficult at times, but I learned a lot from that experience” or “Wow, we could talk about that for hours! Let’s put that in the queue for next time…I’d rather talk about your [travels; favorite movies, bands, or plays; preferences in food; or cats vs. dogs…]”