Twenty years ago, the methods of meeting a mate were simpler. You met in school, at the local hangout, or were introduced through friends. Today, our access to dates has expanded and, with that, so have the modes of meeting. You could meet your next relationship in person, on the web, or on an app. “Putting yourself out there” means being active in nearly all of these ways at once, but your approach to your first date needs to shift based on how you connected. Here’s how:
When you meet IRL, you lead with chemistry. In those 10 or 15 minutes you spend flirting at a bar or an event, nonverbal communication speaks loudest. You leave knowing you’re physically attracted to each other and have great chemistry, but in that short conversation, compatibility is still unknown. You go on a date to see if it exists. Do your values and common interests sync?
When you meet on a dating site, you lead with compatibility. Their profile explains their interests and values, like what religion they practice or their opinion on children. You know there’s attraction via photos too, but you don’t know if you have chemistry, so you go on a date to explore. Do you two have that je ne sais quoi?
When you meet on a dating app, you lead with attraction. You’ve seen each other’s photos and swiped right, but you’re missing two important elements – chemistry and compatibility. Your date needs to take meeting on a site a step further because you also need to determine if you are compatible in values and interests. Both questions from above should be answered on one date.
Regardless of where you meet, consider reframing “first date” as “meet up.” It takes the pressure off, and reminds you to enjoy some sparks while waiting for fireworks.
Laurie Davis Edwards is the founder ofeFlirt, an online dating concierge service, and the best-selling author of "Love @ First Click: The Ultimate Guide to Online Dating."