A probe has discovered that there&rsquo,s a window for meeting internet dates face-to-face &ndash, after which you&rsquo,re headed for almost-certain frustration. Claire Cohen separates fact from fiction
Five:41PM GMT 09 Mar 2015
It’,s the online dating elephant in the room –, how soon should you meet a prospective playmate face-to-face? At what point do you stop messaging and take your flirtation out into the real world?
The truth is: most people are tempted to delay. And that’,s ok –, especially if you’,ve only just dipped your toe into the online pool.
But it’,s a thorny issue – and one that must be tackled, as more and more of us turn to the online dating. No longer do we see tabloid headlines screaming ‘,meet the duo who found love ON THE INTERNET!’, For Britain’,s 16 million singles, looking for love online is the norm.
Studies have suggested that anything inbetween 35 and 50 per cent of all couples in the UK, now meet via the web. What’,s more, a explore by dating site eHarmony, estimated that seven in ten couples will have done so by 2040 –, with 55 to 64-year-olds experiencing the largest boom (an expected 30 per cent rise inbetween 2013 and 2030).
For this to happen, it’,s vitally significant we make the stir from messaging a prospective love interest to actually meeting them.
Of course, exchanging a barrage of emails –, even phone calls or Skyping–, can seem more secure. You can ‘,get to know’, someone from behind the safety of a screen.
But a latest probe by the University of South Florida suggests that –, while a brief period of messaging is fine –, we actually shouldn’,t wait too long to arrange a meeting.
Wait too long? You could be consigning yourself to a disappointing date.
Gratefully, the window isn’,t too appalling (no one is telling that you have to slurp coffee in the very first 24 hours).
No, according to American researchers, the tipping point comes inbetween 17 and 23 days after the very first message is sent.
They conducted a survey of 433 online daters and found that the longer they waited to meet a match in person, the more likely they were to feel let down. That trend that was significantly more evident after the 17 to 23 day ‘,tipping point’,.
What gives the examine a ring of truth? That its lead researcher, Artemio Ramirez Jr., an Associate Professor, met his wifey online in 2005.
There is an online dating ‘cut-off’ for meeting dates
Their very first date was within that all-important window, of course (albeit he didn’,t realise it at the time). Ramirez explained that it’,s the point when “,impressions and idealisations are at that peak, the most positive level that they’ll be prior to meeting face to face.”,
Of course, there are many reasons to delay meeting a potential match. But the ordinary truth is that messaging on the internet is nothing more than a fact-finding mission. You can gather information about the other person, but until you meet them you won’,t know if ‘,I love to laugh’, means Fawlty Towers or fart jokes.
Baldly, without meeting someone, there’,s only so much information you can glean about them –, knowing someone’,s taste in films, music, food does not a personality make. They’,re just a pen pal with promise.
Often, you end up packing in the gaps. It’,s effortless to think you know a person better than you indeed do. There’,s a danger of idealising them and imagining your future together before you’,ve exchanged a single smile.
What’,s more, you have no way of telling which bits of information are true.
Now, I’,m not for a moment hinting at any sinister goings-on. The fact is –, you’,re unlikely to meet a con artist or lunatic. But in all likelihood, you’,re most likely going to have a drink with someone who just doesn’,t do it for you. It happens all the time. I recall a friend excitedly going off for a very first date with a chap – ‘,I just have a good feeling about this one, he’,s an academic you know’, – only to detect he was a librarian who spent the entire meal talking about dust jackets.
Online dating is a fact finding mission
The sooner you can assess whether those online sparks translate into real-life chemistry, the better. Because it just isn’,t a real relationship until you’,re sat opposite each other, drinking lattes. (And I’,d always recommend a coffee date –, you can always excuse yourself if the going isn’,t fine, and you don’,t spend oodles of cash on expensive dinners with duds).
You can tell more about a person in half an hour, than weeks of emailing.
“,It’s always better to meet an online date sooner than later – it’s too effortless to message endlessly, and you need to find out whether you have chemistry off-screen before you down a flirty emoticon rabbit crevice that could last for weeks or months,”, she explains.
“,Attempt not to message for more than two weeks, and if you’re jumpy, you could always speak on the phone very first. It feels a bit more intimate.”,
Of course, if you’,re jumpy, there are other things you can do to speed up the getting-to-know-you process.
One friend tells me that, if she has a positive feeling about someone, she gives them the details of her Facebook account and switches to messaging them away from the dating site. That way, you can mutually scout each other’,s profiles and get a clearer impression of whether you’,d get along socially. It’,s a risk, of course. But if they don’,t have anything to hide (and assuming you don’,t) it’,s one way to let someone in, before taking the step to meet them –, especially if you don’,t live particularly near one another.
And meet them you must. I’,m not advising that you throw caution to the wind and arrange a date for every day of the week (albeit if you feel certain enough to do so, then go for it. Many macchiatos maketh the match and not all of us are excellent in writing).
But you also don’,t want to put it off for too long. After all, if someone is keen to arrange a date with you, they won’,t keep fighting for someone they don’,t truly know forever. As the investigate suggests, time waits for no match.
Take the plunge and meet in person
And if the meeting doesn’,t go to plan? Well, there are things you can take away from it for next time.
Were your expectations too high? Were they right for you –,why not? Which of your needs did you think they might fulfil? Should you avoid people who make grammatical errors in their profile?
You likely did nothing wrong. But answering these questions is a useful way to progress the process of online dating. Many match-making websites now have their own blogs, or guides advising you how and when to meet –, among other tips –, that you might find useful.
Of course, just because you’,re online dating, it doesn’,t mean you should discount the chances of meeting someone offline, too. Go to parties, meet fresh friends and force yourself to speak to strangers –, romantic potential, or not. It makes the prospect of arranging dates a lot less scary.
But, in the end, it doesn’,t indeed matter how you met –, online or off. Those 17 to 23 days of messages are just the very first chapter in your story.
There’,s a entire lot more to come after that.
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