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Tips for Meeting an Online Connection in Person
Meeting a total stranger should be approached with CAUTION! Whether you have made the connection through an on line dating site, at a social function such as a charity party or speed dating, or through any other one shot type venue that is not a regular group you attend (such as a sports league or religious singles group where your friends are also checking these people out). Keep in mind this is a stranger that you know nothing about. The person you talked to 5 times on the phone may sound nice, that you met at a speed dating function for 3 minutes looked cute, or he/she writes nice emails, but remember, you DON'T know the other person. People are always on their best behavior and will try to make the best impression. Do not treat these blind meetings as you would a date with someone introduced by a friend. Your objective is to find out as much as you can before you waste time and money in pursuit. There are precautions you can take to make life safer:
- Meet for the first (few) times in a public place. A good place for a first meeting is lunch, coffee shop or a classy bar or brew pub. Go to a restaurant in the mall. Go to a club at a hotel. Always be near other people. KEEP YOUR FIRST MEETING SHORT. No more than one hour. It is not a good idea to meet for dinner on a weekend night. If the person you meet is not what you expected, you are uncomfortable, or just know that there is no spark there, you don't want to be stuck more than an hour. If the meeting is good, the man will ask to see the woman again and invite her out to lunch or dinner. You may want to meet a few times before allowing the man to pick you up for a date at your home. Avoid hikes, bike rides or drives in remote areas for the first few dates. If you decide to move to another location, take your own car. Make sure you end the date while there are still other people present.
- Drive two cars. Never get in a strangers car, have them pick you up at work, even if it is during the day.
- Never leave together. If you are unsure about your safety, have the manager of the restaurant or bar you are leaving walk you to your car. I f you are really uncomfortable or the person you just met lied to you about who they are or their looks, call a friend during a trip to restroom and ask them to call or page you with a reason to leave. End your date cordially and say you have an emergency and that you need to make some calls. Wait until the person leaves and then have the restaurant manager watch you get into your car. If your date won't leave, ask him to and tell then be blunt that you are not only not a match but you are uncomfortable with being in their presence. If they persist on hanging around, tell them that you are now becoming so uncomfortable that you are going to call the police. Take your cell phone out of your purse and start dialing 911 if they don't leave.
- Tell a friend where you will be and what time you expect to return. Make sure they have the name and phone number of the person you are meeting. If its convenient, notice your date's license plate number and leave the information on your answering machine at home or with a friend. Agree to be home at a certain hour, or to call someone to let them know you will be late.
- Keep your friend posted if you go somewhere else or decide to stay later than your announced return time.
- Never leave your food or beverages unattended. Powerful new drugs exist that can make you prey to the other person's wishes and hardly recall anything in the morning. If you start to feel ill, insist on calling a friend or taking a cab if you are too ill to drive home.
- Don't give out your home address to this person on the first meeting. Don't give out your phone number if you are uncomfortable.
- Be most careful when the chemistry or comfort level is highest. That is when many women throw caution to the wind. Don't do it. Don't drink alcohol or limit yourself to one drink. Always stay in control.
- Get a cell phone and have it with you and handy. Have change and at least $20 with you--preferably in a pocket or your bra. Just in case your purse is lifted.
- Think Ahead. Know in advance where police and fire stations are so you know where you can get help if needed. If your date follows you, make sure to drive to the nearest police station. Anticipate some snags, and pre-plan your response.
- If going to another town to meet your online friend, arrange for your own car and a hotel room. Do not disclose the name of your hotel, and never allow your date to make the arrangements for you. Rent a car at the airport and drive directly to your hotel. Call your date from the hotel or meet at the location you have already agreed to. If the location seems inappropriate or unsafe, go back to your hotel.
An important lesson: You may think this advice is overly cautious. But it never hurts to be careful. I have had one member that wrote me to take her off of the matchmaking system because she was accosted on a first meeting as she was getting into her car. He was walking her to her car. She was a smart cookie , managed to get this man off of her, get his license plate and call the police. This was someone with several years of karate experience that came in handy.
- Many females are careful about meeting a stranger. Think about it, if it was your sister, would you want her meeting some guy she doesn't know. Be understanding. And don't be pushy.
- Do not talk about ANYTHING related to sex. Do NOT touch her other than shaking her hand upon meeting or upon departure. Talking about sex, anything that has sexual connotations, or touching beyond a welcome handshake may make her feel uncomfortable.
- Do find out important information such as occupation, whether she has been married, if she has children and how many, faith, goals and other criteria that are important to you.
- Read the female section above and think about the female you are meeting as if she was your sister. Would you want her to feel uncomfortable?
- Don't drink too much, be loud, obnoxious or use foul language. This can paint you into being an angry and out of control person and may end your date quickly.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself or the person you are meeting for the first time. Planning a first meeting that's too long is a recipe for failure. Don't plan an entire day together and stay away from Friday and Saturday night meetings. Keep it to an hour. If things go well, there will be plenty of other opportunities to go out for a weekend night date, and eventually on an all-day hike or spend hours antiquing through the countryside.
Keep it light: Stay away from any intense issues or conversations. Don't interrogate your date, but do use this time as an opportunity to learn a bit more. Keep in mind, however, that many guys are more expressive in email than in person. If Motor mouth Mike turns out to be the strong, silent type in person, it doesn't necessarily spell disaster. You might have to work a little harder to draw him out in person. But if he refuses to answer questions, or his behavior makes you at all uncomfortable, take that as a red flag and remove yourself from the situation.
Have fun. Remember to smile. People are perceived as more attractive when they are having a good time. Some of the top ways of making a good first impression are showing: warmth, a sense of humor, imagination, confidence, success, fitness, individuality, body language, conversational ability, creativity and kindness. You may not be a perfect 10 in all of those, but you can certainly make sure the areas you are strong in shine. And that's good advice not just for the dating world but for your whole life. Don't be a know it all, and don't talk about things that are of no interest to the person you are meeting. If you bore them, you may never see them again.
Do not get overly excited that you have "X" number of matches online or through any other venue. These are mere possibilities, not matches. Take time and find out more about these "so called" matches. Someone may look great on paper but have no chemistry with you. And someone that smiles at you and can hold your attention for 3 minutes doesn't mean you have chemistry, common interests, shares your values or goals. Remember, you are meeting total strangers.
Some singles will use caller ID to acquire your telephone number without your permission. Scenario: you are out with friends when a guy approaches and says, "I'd really like to talk to you sometime. Call me if you ever feel like it." He hands you his phone number. Using caller ID, some single can get your phone number--even someone you might never give that number. Now you would have never given him your home or work number because you always have guys call a voice mail or your smart ring first for safety. But some lonely night you pick up the phone and call him. He has caller ID and now he has your phone number. Once he has your phone number, he might be able to get your address. And once he has your address, he could hurt you. Always press *67 before you call to disable his/her caller ID. Or better yet, call the phone company and see if you can have caller ID permanently made "anonymous."