Step By Step

1. Choose a Service 2. Set Up an Account 3. Write Your Profile4. Make Contact 5. Respond...Or Don’t 6. The Email Dialogue 7. The Phone Call 8. The Date

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Step 8: The Date

At last: you joined a service, you created a profile, you searched, you contacted, you emailed, you called, and now it’s time for the big date. By now, you should already know my first piece of advice: lower your expectations. As TR noted the other day, there’s something funny about e-dating: by the time you meets omeone, you already feel like you know them pretty well, but as soon as they walk in the door, you realize that you don’t really. You have these glimpses of the other person—a couple of pictures, some conversations. From those glimpses, you construct an image of whom you think the person is. If you’re an optimist like me, the image you create is a positive one, and you can’t help but get a little excited. The problem is that the image is not based on sufficient or even accurate information. Take the picture. A picture shows someone from one unchanging angle. Based on that angle, you interpolate an animated, three-dimensional human being. But there are countless ways of interpolating the same angle, and chances are you didn’t get it right, especially since the person probably made a point of showing you their best side. So try to remind yourself that you really don’t know much at all about the other person. The lower your expectations, the more likely that you will be pleasantly surprised.

My second piece of advice: keep it casual. Right now you’re just a face on the internet. Don’t assume that people will give up real plans to go out with you. You have to prove yourself “weekend worthy”, and should hold expect the same from your date. And guys, don’t try to impress the girls with a fancy dinner on the first date. You haven’t met this girl, so you don’t even know if the two ofyou can hold a conversation long enough to last through dinner. Furthermore, you might think that women loved to be wined and dined, but a lot of them find such situations uncomfortable. Don’t risk that. Start with a drink or a coffee on a weeknight or during the day on a weekend. If it goes well and you dig each other, you can build up to the fancy dinner on the second or third date. If you don’t dig each other, the fanciest dinner in the world won’t win her over. Girls, if a guy invites you to dinner, and you’re not ready for that, do not hesitate to politely suggest an alternative. If he’s even half a man, he’ll accept your suggestion gracefully, and the date will go better because you’ll feel less awkward.

[TR: A recent e-date guy took me to the New York Yacht club for our first date. Maybe he wanted to share with me his passion for yachting or impress me with his connections to the rich and powerful, but I just found the place to be stodgy, snobby, and homogenous. The moral of this story: Don’t plan a first date in “your territory”. Pick a casual neutral setting.]

Plan to keep the date short. If things go well, you can extend it or set up a second date. But do not do the little trick where you arrange for your friend to call at a certain time and pretend to call you away for an emergency. What are you 12? Do you think that the other person can’t see through your shtick? If you’re not enjoying the date, just say you’re tired or that you have to get going.

[TR: Guys, if you start early with drinks and then want to extend the date, suggest a bite to eat. Your date is most likely smaller than you and can’t hold as much alcohol. Plus, people get hungry.]

Finally, be careful. You know very little about the other person. Don’t let someone you’ve never met pick you up in a car, always meet at a public location, tell your friends where you’re going, and be careful how much you drink. See my safety tips.

That’s it. You’re on your own. Go forth and multiply. If you need more help, there are a million dating advice books out there.