Online dating is a great way to meet and get to know women outside of your usual social circle, but making the leap from online friends to an offline relationship isn’t always easy. Any first date can be stressful, but the added tension of meeting a person you’ve already built something of a relationship with can be nerve-racking.
Here are a few ideas to help you ease your relationship from the digital world to the physical one.
1. Take it public.
Finally meeting someone you’ve had an online relationship can be tricky. While you might feel like you know her, there’s still a lot of feedback you can only get from seeing a person face to face.
What you might be reading as coy or demure online could feel more like she’s disinterested when you’re watching her reactions to that awesome story about your March Madness bracket. Even if you really click when chatting on the computer, keep your first date somewhere well lit and public.
Inviting her to your apartment to watch a DVD might seem benign when you mention it or feel appropriate to the amount of time you’ve interacted, but it will still be the first time you’ve met while you’re sitting in the dark for two hours.
Pick somewhere you can talk and continue getting to know each other without letting the first physical meeting make you two feel awkward around each other.
2. Branch out.
The precarious thing about meeting an online interest for the first time is balancing what relationship you already have with what you would typically expect from a first date.
One of the best things about meeting someone on the Internet is this prior interaction. It gives you a chance to scope her out and see if this is really a person you would be interested in spending an afternoon with.
Keep that in mind when picking an activity for your first date. You’ve already talked about your siblings and what you studied in college. You might have even moved on to hobbies and the favorite Power Ranger debate. No need to commit yourself to sitting across from her at a Starbucks picking over things you already know.
Choose a date that allows you to get to know each other in a new way or explore a mutual interest. Go rock climbing or wander around a museum, something where you can still talk and interact but without having to re-explain why “Rushmore” is your favorite Wes Anderson movie.
3. Mind your manners.
This again is to help you balance feeling like you’re on your first and sixth date at the same time. If things are going well, it’s easy to start to feel a little too casual. While you could have known this person for weeks, don’t forget that this is still the first time you’re really interacting with them.
It’s OK to get a little extra physical or feel less formal than you would on a typical first date, more so if you’re date is into it, but don’t forget to mind your Ps and Qs.
If she’s someone you could see developing a relationship with, don’t let her earliest memories of your handsome face include open mouth chewing.