Sticking the landing but fumbling the runup?
February 7, 2018 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Here's a "modern dating" question: what happens between the time you score a first date (online, natch) and the date itself?

So here's a question I don't think I've seen often asked, and would've been unthinkable all but a few years ago: what, if anything, happens during the time you're waiting for your first face-to-face meet?

I've always wondered this, and possibly have botched a few dates by either over-acting, or not acting at all.

For instance, through an app or dating site, you manage to score a first date. Now, in the 1-5 days in between, what do you do? Nothing, to save all getting-to-know-you's for the date itself? Small talk, just to keep the convo going up to the date, without getting too heavily into the getting-to-know-you? Or go full-on dating mode, considering the face-to-face as merely the cap to a budding online relationship?

I've tried all 3 versions, and have been ghosted prior to the actual date in each scenario. On the one hand, it could be better to just not say anything at all, assuming that the interest factor was already there, and saying anything will just give them reasons to lose interest. On the other hand, inertia could kick in, and, especially if the date was made a few days into the future, they could forget all about you by the time the actual day arrives.

Is there a proper "etiquette" for this? Or is it a case-by-case situation?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think this is definitely case-by-case, but personally I don't like spending a lot of time online on people I intend to meet in person - people I like in person and people I like online are overlapping circles on a Venn diagram, but there are plenty of people I like in-person but don't really care for online and vice versa.

What I would like is a small amount of communication, ideally related to the date itself. Like, on Sunday, we agree that we will get drinks on Thursday. On Tuesday, one of us says, "hey, we're still on for Thursday, right? I hear the $[SIGNATURE COCKTAIL] at $[BAR] is great!" and probably the other person responds, "I'll be there!" or whatever. And then on Thursday morning, one of us is like, "See you at 7!"
posted by mskyle at 11:02 AM on February 7, 2018 [14 favorites]


Case by case, of course, like everything no two people are going to interact in the same way.

But for me, I generally like to have observational/topical text convos, not getting to know you boring shit but like "just passed THREE DOGS on my way into work, gonna be a good day," at which point they'll like send a pic of their cat sleeping in the laundry or something and be like "I'm just mad I had to come into work at all, Admiral Pantaloons has the right idea," and then I'll be like "Admiral Pantaloons...family name, I'm guessing?" and they'll be like, "yeah, descended from the famous Northamptonshire Pantaloons," and so on.
posted by phunniemee at 11:04 AM on February 7, 2018 [29 favorites]


I judge men heavily on their ability to carry on an entertaining pre-meeting text convo because in reality this is how we'd probably end up doing most of our communicating if we actually ended up dating. GTFO if you can't hang.

I realize not everyone has such high standards.
posted by phunniemee at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2018 [22 favorites]


So here's a question I don't think I've seen often asked, and would've been unthinkable all but a few years ago: what, if anything, happens during the time you're waiting for your first face-to-face meet?

First - this isn't as new as you think. In my day, when you met a person at a party and got their number and called them to ask to go on a date, you also had time in between the date and the call that you had to decide what to do with. The pre-date phone call asking for a date was HELL. Dating has been fraught with anxious, uncertain moments since time immortal.

Is there a proper "etiquette" for this? Or is it a case-by-case situation?

Case-by-case. Feel out the situation and respect whatever boundaries you personally enjoy (i.e., don't feel compelled to text 12 hours a day if that's not your thing.) No one rule is going to work for everyone.

Re: ghosting - don't assume your conduct has anything to do with it. Maybe they had another date two days earlier that went amazingly well and they're shutting down dating until that situation resolves itself. Maybe they get extreme anxiety leading up to an in-person date that can lead to them cancelling or ghosting. There are a lot of reasons why people who might've been interested aren't anymore that aren't you specifically. Don't get too hung up on it.
posted by notorious medium at 11:08 AM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


My pattern was usually connect on the site, switch to text after some degree of comfort is reached, agree on a date, and maintain some chit-chat up until the date but nothing too heavy.

Agreed that how you communicate via text can be indicative of compatibility so don't over-think it or try to play it too cool, but also give the other person some space and let some excitement build up for the date.

Red flags for me were guys that seemed to be overly focused on me, like texting a lot, texting me while mentioning they were ignoring other activities (like texting me excessively while they were at work, while driving(!), out with friends, that sort of thing). Basically I am chatty and if I felt like I wasn't getting any time to breath or just hang out with my son that was a bad thing and I'd cancel based on that, I did that a couple times with no regrets. That said my boyfriend was an almost non-stop texter but we were having the best time chatting (like making the same jokes at the same time) and I never felt like I couldn't put my phone down without upsetting him, that was the difference.

Green flags were regular contact around their schedules that was funny and light-hearted, an interest in getting to know me and my likes/dislikes, balanced sharing, and sharing enough of their life that I could get a fuller picture of them. One guy was an awesome texter but not a good match irl, that made me warier of getting too attached via text before meeting up so I generally tried to set the date fairly quickly after connecting. Some people don't like the "good morning" or"goodnight" texts but I like it and see it as a sign that the other person is thoughtful and again I am chatty and like a fairly high level of contact.

Apparently a lot of women like to talk to their prospective date on the phone before meeting to hear their voice and see how serious they were, but if that's the case they will let you know. For me text > phone by far.
posted by lafemma at 11:23 AM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I generally like to have observational/topical text convos, not getting to know you boring shit but like "just passed THREE DOGS on my way into work, gonna be a good day," at which point they'll like send a pic of their cat sleeping in the laundry or something

Cis queer woman in my late thirties here, and conversely I find this type of getting-to-know-you banter exhausting and frankly a waste of time until I have an actual bond with the person messaging me these things. I'd rather talk on the phone or just have a pro forma "are we still on for tonight?” conversation unless the person's particular sense of humor is perfectly calibrated to mine from the outset, and chances are it's not.
posted by tapir-whorf at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2018 [18 favorites]


Speaking for myself, I prefer to use messaging primarily for plans-making and very occasionally for cute life updates. But obviously there is a whole spectrum out there, and some folks expect to receive lots more messages than I did when I was online dating. My bf would sometimes send little "Hope you're having a good week! Looking forward to Thursday night" messages between dates, which I liked a lot.

I've tried all 3 versions, and have been ghosted prior to the actual date in each scenario.

Try not to let this get to you too much. In fact, when you do get ghosted, be glad that person is telling you that they're immature and rude! Why would you want to date someone who doesn't have the decency to say, "Hey, I have to cancel our date [optional polite excuse here]. Good luck out there!"? You're worth more than that.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh yeah - I'm a 27yo cis woman; most of my adult dating experience has been with men.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:41 AM on February 7, 2018


Once I have a meeting plan set up, I don't expect or want a whole lot of additional online interaction. I've already indicated I'm interested in the person but there's next to nothing more I'll gain from texting until I've met in person. A confirmation email or text the day of the meeting but that's about it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:59 AM on February 7, 2018 [6 favorites]


Definitely goes by person, but generally -- I've found that both people definitely throttle back, and save actual conversation for the date itself. Switch over to text if you haven't already, trade a line or two a day, and the date comes soon enough.

The substance of the texts is pretty unimportant -- a wish for the other person to have a nice day, settle on plan details, here's how to reach me if there's a problem, looking forward to date night, whatever.

Just stay in contact, and don't exhaust conversations or your date's patience before the big night.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:01 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Try meeting ASAP after the date is set (no more than a 5-6 days) and check in once midway with whatever check-in message suits your personality.

While some find ceaseless banter charming, many find it pointless and exhausting or even a bit creepy/intense, at least until they know you in person. But nobody sane is going to be put off by a quick greeting that indicates your ongoing interest and confirms the date is still on.

It's important your date knows you actually still intend and want to show up, that's just polite.

I think your online dating experience seems normal; so many dates don't pan out for whatever reason.
posted by kapers at 12:39 PM on February 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


I judge men heavily on their ability to carry on an entertaining pre-meeting text convo because in reality this is how we'd probably end up doing most of our communicating if we actually ended up dating. GTFO if you can't hang.

Eh, to me, ability to hang is (relatively) cheap. My twitter feed is full of people I can hang with online but wouldn't want to be in a relationship with. If I'm looking for people to date, I want people I connect with in person *and* online (or should I say... textually *and* sexually), and I don't want to get hung up on fun texts only to discover zero chemistry when we meet in person.

In conclusion, dating is a land of contrasts and life is a rich tapestry! Whatever you do is going to be attractive to some people and a turn-off for others. I think the only thing you can do is what feels right to you (while paying careful attention to the feedback you get from your date).
posted by mskyle at 1:22 PM on February 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


Just to add to the consensus of no consensus: I could not possibly remain interested in keeping a date if there hadn't been sufficiently witty yet genuine banter in that interim period. I'm a cis het woman and I require the male cardinal to do the little mating dance, showing me how bright red and fabulous his feathers are. In words. On text or email. (Of course, there is always the potential for enormous disappointment if the guy can't connect face to face as well.)
posted by velveeta underground at 1:30 PM on February 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I used to hate, hate, hate chitchat via text or messaging with someone before I met them. Prior to the date, the only topics you should address are related to the date itself.

Appropriate: "See you at 7! I'll be wearing a black t-shirt!" "Sounds good--I may be a few minutes early if I can get out of this meeting!"

Not appropriate, and obnoxious to the point of making me reconsider the date: "Oh, a meeting! Work or twelve-step?" "Meetings, blah! Fuck work!" "What kind of work do you do?" "I got this black t-shirt at Target--do you ever go to Target?"

All of those comments you save for the date itself. There is no value added in pre-date chitchat. None. You don't have any shared history yet, and any getting-to-know-you stuff is much better done in person.
posted by witchen at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2018 [7 favorites]


Nthing the advice to not get over-chatty in the leadup to the date.

I've done that before, and while it's fun to learn everything about someone over text/email/IM before meeting them, it can truly suck the life out of a date if you have nothing left to talk about/discover when you meet in person.
posted by de void at 2:16 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


It seems to be case by case.
I think that based on all the answers here, you could text your date and recount how you and your friends were just talking about this piece of dating etiquette and how you were surprised by the lack of consensus - and then ask them what they think.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:20 PM on February 7, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm currently doing a bunch of online dating (29, straight female) and at this point I prefer to just quickly set up a date and keep the texting pretty minimal until then. Twice now I have spent a week or two exchanging funny, interesting, flirty texts with a guy before the date, got my hopes up really high, and then after meeting them lost all interest. So now I don't want to waste the time and emotional energy anymore. A text the day-of to confirm plans is fine.

Between the first and second date I think it's appropriate to text a bit more, and amp up the funny/smart/flirty vibe. But a first date is, for me at least, very low stakes and there's no point in either party putting in effort until we see if we have chemistry in person.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 3:22 PM on February 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don’t like to text until the day of to confirm. Then again, my ideal dating pattern is one date per month, so ymmv.
posted by sugarbomb at 7:31 PM on February 7, 2018


I would try to match whatever the other was wanting. You can throw out a text and see if they reply. I certainly wouldn’t banter one-sided for ages, but then one of my dates texted me back randomly asking how my day was going the day after we’d first messaged, and partly because she was 5 hours away we ended up doing a great deal of texting. A week and 2000 texts each later, we had our first date. With both our respective kids in tow. And discussed everything including finances, politics, and religion. And got engaged. Three years later we’re married with four kids ...

So I’d say there was no particular “rule” about this at all. If you like lots of texting, do it and no response will tell you what you want to know. If you don’t like texting, don’t do it. You’re only going to get together if you match up in some way and you have to find that out sooner or later.
posted by tillsbury at 8:50 PM on February 8, 2018


I'll let autostraddle take this one..
posted by fritillary at 3:24 AM on February 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


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