ok cupid. i'm ready. any day now.
October 30, 2007 7:29 PM   Subscribe

how do i actually date with internet dating?

i'm a young woman doing the okcupid thing for a few months. i feel like i get in touch with a bunch of awesome-sounding guys online, (who live in my general area) but i can't make the jump to...um...really dating.
how long to people do the email/im thing before you ask for a real date? is there a good way to do so without sounding...wierd or desperate or like you want NSA sex?
i started this internet dating thing to meet real people, not exchange clever emails! help!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Usually within 2-3 emails or as soon as you both feel comfortable. It's OK to hint that you'd like to meet a guy... a lot of the guys doing the online dating thing are kinda shy and won't ask a girl out IRL, so it's OK for the girl to make advances. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 7:38 PM on October 30, 2007

similar questions, previously asked, which might be useful.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:40 PM on October 30, 2007

I'm not quite following you. Is there a reason you can't suggest meeting for coffee in a public place at lunch time and getting to know each other a little bit? From my one brief try at internet dating, if they aren't emailing you naked close-up of their willies, they might be worth getting to know. From my experience it is the guys who seem to want to meet you immediately and not pussyfoot around with emails. Personally if I get clever emails, it bodes well, shows they have half a brain and maybe actually read what I wrote at some point to be clever about. Just take it slow--it is what it is, you'll meet some turkeys and you'll meet some okay people. Good luck!
posted by 45moore45 at 7:41 PM on October 30, 2007

I'd say suggest meeting for coffee during the first phone call if the guy seems interesting.
posted by reenum at 7:44 PM on October 30, 2007

SpecialK is right on from my experience. I am a shy boy doing the internet dating thing. I started dating a girl from okcupid a few weeks ago and it took a few messages back and forth before she asked if I wanted to go out for drinks sometime and gave me her number to set up a date. I did. I didn't think she wanted NSA sex and we didn't. Nothing was weird or desperate sounding about any of it and we ended up getting along quite well.

I had a very similar dating experience start on MySpace a few years ago with the same basic pattern and timing of exchanges for what it's worth.
posted by DanielDManiel at 7:54 PM on October 30, 2007

I email a few times, ask for a number, talk to the guy on the phone once or twice, then suggest meeting for a beverage.
posted by orange swan at 8:03 PM on October 30, 2007

I recently did the internet dating thing for the first time. I think I sounded just like you, anon :)
We exchanged a couple of emails, then agreed to have a conversation via IM. That was a success, so I gathered the cajones to ask mystery person out IRL, as the kids say.

(Of course, the whole thing wound up being a flaming failure after a few months, but try, try again!).

Good luck!

(Is NSA sex some kind of secret, black-ops sex? Sounds hot.)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:11 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

General consensus seems to be that you should meet earlier rather than later, to avoid spending a lot of time building up text-camaraderie and then meeting, only to find out you have no personal chemistry. I can vouch for this being a very real possibility, as I did it myself (whoops).

So, yeah - a few volleys of email exchange, but then say, "Hey, I was thinking of going to this event/bar/coffee house/poetry reading, want to meet up?" And it'll be fine.

Cat Pie, NSA = "no strings attached." Not so much black-ops as opportunity knocks. With no pants on.
posted by dorothy humbird at 8:17 PM on October 30, 2007

I met my fiance at a coffee shop near my house after messaging online for about a week. It was basically a blind date (we met on HotorNot.com, for god's sakes!!), and neither of us expected anything to come of it, it just so happened that we were right for each other.

I think it's great that you're deciding to take a little initiative. My advice to you is this: not long before we started dating, I read a tip that you should meet in real life as soon as possible so as to avoid forming any misconceptions or falling in love with a fantasy as well as to stave off cold feet. Keep it casual and put yourself out there, they'll be happy to bite.

And don't be afraid to go through the occasional fling or casual non-sexual companion before meeting a guy you can stay with for a while.

Good luck!
posted by mynameismandab at 9:15 PM on October 30, 2007

In my case (straight guy, almost 30yo now but 27yo when I tried internet dating), I was usually the one who was 'expected' to suggest that we move from IM and e-mails to an actual f2f date.

How long I would wait until I suggested the date would depend on how much I liked the girl. Often it would be within a week of the initial IM or e-mail. None of those were successful.

I believe that if you wait a while, longer than a week, your chances of an internet date turning successful would be greater. But in terms of "how do we move from the net to f2f", if you aren't the one suggesting "OK I think it's time to meet", the guys you're talking to are thinking it is their responsibility to do so and the ones that want to actually meet you will ask you when they think they have the best chance of getting a "yes." It's pretty much as simple as that.

Good luck!
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:28 PM on October 30, 2007

i agree that sooner is better. my boyfriend and i met on okcupid, and we hung out in person after about a week of IMs. i really think that emails and IMs are not substitutes for face to face talking... we had a good time IMing but we were both swept off our (respective) feet when we met in person.

on the flip side, i've gone on dates with people with whom i had great online chemistry but no real life connection. like mynameismandab said, keep it casual and have fun :)

as far as asking people goes... i just said, "hey, do you want to meet up some time?" to my (current) boyfriend. others have asked me: "would you like to meet up?" or "do you feel like grabbing some coffee?" or "i love this restaurant; want to come with me?" i'm sure you know about meeting in public and letting someone else know where you're going.

happy dating!
posted by be11e at 9:33 PM on October 30, 2007

You should never draw it out. After one message from a guy with an interesting profile, I sent him my phone number. He called, and about a week later we went on our first date.

(We later got married.)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:58 PM on October 30, 2007

Yes, the sooner the better. I've found if you leave it too long, either the chatting goes on forever or it just stops cold. Either way it's not good.

A couple of emails then suggest meeting up. Offer your phone number as well.
posted by crossoverman at 10:20 PM on October 30, 2007

Most definitely meet sooner rather than later. In my experience the emailing back and forth and MSN-ing thing, while interesting in and of itself, will only build up a set of expectations that may bear only a tangential relation to how the person actually behaves or looks in person, and offers an ever-increasing set of opportunities to blow it. The fewer expectations (positive or negative), the better. Don't think of it as a date - it's just meeting for a coffee, to determine if you have any interest in dating, or at least, can have enough fun together to be friends. Anyone can say anything over the internet. Granted, a certain level of literacy and eloquence will indicate the possibility of an intelligent conversation, but this doesn't mean the conversation will necessarily be interesting or entertaining. Some people--myself for instance--find the lack of capacity to review and edit spoken text to put them at a major disadvantage in spoken rather than written communication; conversely, I know people who can talk leaves off and then back onto a tree in person but whose email conversation is limited to forwarding amusing videos and the occasional "Wanna catch a movie tonight?".

One major thing about dating in real life that people tend to completely miss in internet dating is this: that guy has friends, and so do you. If you meet him, and like him, but there's no spark of attraction there, you can meet his friends, and he can meet yours.

Before the first meeting, don't give away anything about yourself except maybe your first name and your photo. Meet in a public place, and park out of view of the meeting place. Have a phone with you. Have a friend you can phone to "suddenly need you" if required. Chances are good you'll decide in the first few minutes what you think of him, but do try to give him a bit of time to make an impression, and be prepared to change your mind. Some people clam up when nervous, some people babble, and almost everyone is a little nervous the first time they meet someone they might date. As to what to talk about, it doesn't actually matter much. Movies, books, fun things to do, music, food, where's good to go out of a Saturday, work, ever been overseas, future plans, housemates, pets, etc.

If there are deal-breaker issues for you (religion, politics, wanting children), you actually only need to mention them if there's any possibility of you being attracted to the person at all. Otherwise, it's not even relevant, so why bring it up?

Be prepared to hold up your end of the conversation; he's not there to entertain you, it's a mutual thing. Even if you immediately dislike him for his whiny voice and silly haircut, if he hasn't actually been rude to you, at least be polite enough to participate in a conversation with him for half an hour, before you put the escape plan into action. Trying to find something interesting to talk about with people you don't actually like is good practice generally in life - you never know when a moment of rudeness will come back to bite you. The man of your dreams will have irritating friends and relatives who you will need to be nice to.

Above all else, remember that interacting with people is a skill that improves with practice, dating is a numbers game, and each number is a real person who matters.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:29 PM on October 30, 2007 [3 favorites]

I've read that it's biologically normal in species with equal numbers of males and females for the females to do the picking. Our culture reverses that somewhat which I think leads to a lot of awkwardness. But that's nerd talk. In straight terms:

It's totally ok for girls to ask guys out. Guys don't mind at all!
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 11:01 PM on October 30, 2007

If I've exchanged a few emails with a guy and he hasn't already suggested we meet up, I usually will. Not once has a guy responded negatively to this.

Also n'thing the "don't wait too long." It's not worth your time to build up this fantastic "internet relationship" only to meet in person and discover you have zero chemistry. I would say a week or two max.
posted by jessbrandi at 5:39 AM on October 31, 2007

Have a policy that you only wait X weeks before meeting someone, and when that time comes, tell the guy that you want to see if there is in-person chemistry before talking further and wasting either of your time. This does not need to = sex. I'm engaged to a guy I met online, and we talked on the phone for about 3 weeks before we met in person (this was one week longer than my policy, but there were work obligations). I knew for sure that I had to meet him when I found myself missing the sound of his voice.
posted by desjardins at 5:51 AM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

The guy should be getting your phone number after the first email where you two find you are interested. It shouldn't take more than one email and looking at their profile to see if it is worth meeting in person. The real test of compatibility is meeting in person, not writing a dozen or two emails.

Why anyone would want to endure emailing someone for several weeks before finding out whether they are a dog in person is beyond me. Not to be shallow but I dated a girl after a couple emails. It seemed like we had quite a bit in common in the emails but on the date found out she was a lot heftier in person. Much heftier and that was the obvious deal breaker. I'm glad I didn't invest a month in writing love emails before discovering that fact.
posted by JJ86 at 6:33 AM on October 31, 2007

I met my wife on match.com -- The reason I liked it better than any of the other dating sites is because it gives you lots of room for personal information. For example, one of the things she liked about me before we even started talking is that we hung out in the same bars.

Ultimately the idea here is to really put yourself out there rather than fill out a couple of compatibility surveys and IQ tests. In the digital realm I still think the honest approach works best. Treat it like a relationship CV, paint yourself in the best light possible so long as you're being honest. If you're funny, be funny. If you're into Norse black metal, mention your favorite band. If you hate long walks on the beach at sunset, don't pretend to like them.

It's important not to confuse dating sites with romantic notions of the ideal relationship because we are often not ourselves when we play those notions out in our heads. Be realistic, be honest, and have fun.
posted by analogue at 7:26 AM on October 31, 2007

Always meet sooner than later. There can be a huge disconnect between the persona online and the person in person, and if you're in it to actually date, you don't want to waste time building up the wrong impression (I went through that a few times).

I met my wife on Nerve (before it started sucking, from what I hear). I initiated contact with her on an afternoon, and we met that same night, after having established that we both appeared to be non-psycho. Seems to have worked out OK.
posted by adamrice at 8:54 AM on October 31, 2007

General consensus seems to be that you should meet earlier rather than later, to avoid spending a lot of time building up text-camaraderie and then meeting, only to find out you have no personal chemistry. I can vouch for this being a very real possibility, as I did it myself (whoops).

Yup, I did this too. It's embarrassing and a waste of time. Meet early, keep expectations low, don't take failure to heart. I met my wife this way, so the whole thing was worth it!
posted by languagehat at 9:26 AM on October 31, 2007

A lot of the advice I have read on this site about online dating suggests meeting in the real world as soon as possible. I don't think it's forward to suggest it, I think it's very prudent. You can put that in your profile, something about how you think it's good to meet in person early in the correspondence; that way they know what to expect from you.
posted by kenzi23 at 11:13 AM on October 31, 2007

Also, these are dating sites, so date!
posted by kenzi23 at 11:37 AM on October 31, 2007

From talking to lots of women on dating sites in the past
I'd suggest
have some unspoken rules, otherwise known as hurdles, guys have to adhere to in for you to meet them and stick to them like glue. Drop any guys like hot potatoes that wont stick to them after polite suggestions or just ones that dont behave right.

Be aware there's plenty of guys who
just want sex
seem interested just to have sex.
seem interested and then drift off
make plans and then disappear
make plans and then cancel them without adequate explanations
send messages without reading your profile
send the same message to 100s of women

its a minefield

when reading profiles. statements that start with I or I'm have no integrity. Profiles that state stuff guys wont do or dont like have more integrity since desperate ppl dont want to reduce their chances.

if you're gonna meet ppl quickly its better to go for coffee or lunch that way there's no hidden expectations on their part.
You've got an escape route if u need it~ those 'plans' you had in the afternoon and it ought to put off the ones who just want to get you in bed.

If you take more time before meeting. dont fall into the trap of thinking you "know" them. You can talk to ppl on IM, see them on webcam, talk to them on the phone and still they can be a lot different to what you expected. Especially the stuff they didnt want to mention in order not to put you off.

other than that its a learning process and you'll prob find you get it wrong a few times before you start approaching 'right'
posted by browolf at 5:51 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

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