Simple Rules for Dating: Meet Don’t Message

Simple Rules for Dating: Meet Don’t Message


I’ve written dating posts in the past that were mainly dating experiences. Instead of stories, here are some simple rules that, if followed, will give your dating life a boost. I promise.

Yes, I realize that I’m 30 and single with 2 cats and probably shouldn’t be giving out dating advice. Too bad.

via Flickr whoaitsaimz
via Flickr

Meet ASAP Instead of Messaging for a Year

It’s 2013 and everyone knows how the Internet works. If you don’t feel comfortable meeting someone from an online dating site, then don’t sign-up for an online dating site. It’s that simple.

If you responded to a message or someone responded to you, then clearly you both are interested in each other in some way. You both find each other attractive and like something about each other’s personality.

This is enough to ask someone out.

You Meet People To Get To Know Them Better

You don’t need to get to know someone better before meeting, you meet them to get to know them better.

Don’t discuss your college years, work, or much personal information at all before meeting. This is great first date fodder so take advantage of it. If you communicate (via text/messaging/phone) too much before meeting, what will be left to say?

If you haven’t been asked out by the 3rd message, don’t bother replying. This person is wasting your time. And if you’re the one pursuing, ask the person out in the second or third message. This is not too forward, trust me.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

Wasting time getting to know someone before you meet them also means you’re creating a relationship with them before you even know if you’ll like them in person.

I’m not saying people actively mislead others via written communication, just that some people come off differently in messages. You can’t always get the best feel for a person the way you can face-to-face. And since most of your relationship will be you two hanging out together, it’s best to make sure that’s something you’ll actually enjoy.

We’re past the era of pen pals.

Be Smart

Now when it comes to meeting, be smart about it. As I mentioned previously, only do drinks. Not dinner. Not a movie. Not a comedy show. Drinks. Coffee, booze, something short with no fixed time limit.

Let’s be real here, you two might not hit it off. That’s just the way the world works. So save everyone some time and awkwardness by having an easy way to get out of a bad situation.

Never ever ever ever ever ever NEVER EVER have a first date in someone’s apartment!

First, there are safety concerns but more importantly, you are completely stuck if you don’t hit it off with the person.

Meet on neutral territory, in a public place. It can be near your home if you think you might want to end up there later – that’s fine. But keep your options open.

I don’t mean to be cynical but if you plan for the worst here, everything will still work if things go well. If you hit it off, go get dinner after the first round. Or if you’re really hitting it off, go back to someone’s place after a few rounds of drinks.

Never Get Stuck In A Situation

Sometimes, if two people have been messaging a lot, they feel more comfortable around each other and may accept an invite to someone’s apartment. Don’t do this! You really have no idea how they will be in person. Their personality, mannerisms, everything could not meet expectations or the chemistry might be different. Hopefully it’s not, but… reality.

Think about it this way, if things go well, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities for dinner & bedtime activities. For the first date, let’s just chill out and relax a bit.

It’s just a date – this isn’t a big deal. You don’t need to know someone’s entire life history to have a drink with them. You don’t need to know their 10 favorite movies before spending an hour with them at a bar. No matter how much you message someone, it will never be a proper substitute for an in-person meeting.


7 Replies to “Simple Rules for Dating: Meet Don’t Message”

  1. I think every single bit of advice in this post is spot on … and I broke every one of those rules with Z. :)

    1 – Because of our schedules we couldn’t meet up right away, so we wound up messaging and chatting online late nights for nearly 3 weeks.

    2 – We exchanged life stories and then some online.

    3 – We did meet for coffee first (so I guess we didn’t break that rule entirely), which moved to lunch, which moved to walking by the river, which moved to dinner, which moved to wine at his place … ultimately a 36 hour first date. :)

    We’ve been together 9 months now and still going strong, so it worked for us. But I will say that I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me that’s the way it would have worked out. So I guess I’ll just say sometimes, if things are right, you can throw all the rules out the window and it just works.

    1. This definitely happens sometimes, and that’s fine, but it’s still important to be aware of what you’re doing. Sometimes it does take a while before your schedules line up, but just be careful not to build the other person into something else based on phone conversations prior to meeting. It sounds like everything has worked out for you both so far!

  2. Oh man, I broke the meeting-first rule with a guy I went on a date with today and it definitely back fired. We’ve been talking for months but because we both have really difficult schedules it never worked out to meet in person until tonight and it was very much only kind of meh. He was kind of awkward in person and while I find that somewhat endearing, it was different from his online/text persona and yea…

    Also, he lives in Bushwick so maybe it was just a non-started from the beginning.

    I hate dating, sometimes. :(

  3. While I think these suggestions are good ideas, it sounds like you’re expecting a negative experience before you ever even talk to a person or meet them.

    I’ve had the experience of talking to someone online only to meet and it be a disaster. I talked to a guy from a chat room for 6 years before we met during our freshman year of college (he was from Iowa), and there was absolutely no chemistry, not even enough to sustain a friendship.

    But David and I talked for a while before we met, at least 4 weeks of talking online every day before he asked me out. So I don’t think the three messages rule is one to keep. Maybe if you’re only into assertive people and the person not asking you out by a third message tells you they’re not assertive enough for you… I liked the build up of talking first and then going out. There was still plenty to talk about even with our month of chatting.

    1. It does depend on the person. However, the behavior of talking a lot first can sometimes bring false-hopes and cause one person to create a pseudo-relationship with the other person before a relationship even exists.

      1. That’s true. I guess I’ve never really felt bad about having good conversations leading up to a date that then fizzled. I went into those conversations knowing that, no matter how good the repartee online, it may not work out when we met. If the date went well, then yay. If not, time to move on to the next person.

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