So you’ve connected online and now you’ve got butterflies in your tummy. It feels good to have this rush of excitement and to finally go from online to offline. But how do you navigate it while staying safe? 

Rule #1: The phone call

love on the phone

Studies show that 35-50% of all couples in the UK meet online and that 55-64-year-olds are expected to have the biggest boom in online dating, with a 30 per cent rise in recent years. 

Before moving things to the real world, be sure to chat on the phone a few times. Follow your common sense and sensibility. If your intuition is saying something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably correct.

Even though you don’t want your relationship to exist purely on the phone or through chatting and email for too long, it’s good to ensure that there are no red flags before you meet in real life.

Having said that, you don’t want to exchange dozens of emails before moving to non-written communication. When you finally get on the phone or meet in real life, things will move along much faster and you’ll also gather information about the person more efficiently. This will, in turn, help you feel safer and can potentially cement your growing your bond.

Read more: The safest way to date online

 

Rule #2: Timing

timing of first date

So when is the best time to meet? Recent studies from the University of South Florida show that there is a tipping point for romance. According to the research, the romantic charge that’s developed online will fizzle out if you wait too long.

The survey of 433 daters revealed that the trend was most apparent after the 17 to 23 day mark. So take your time and do your homework as stated in Rule #1, but don’t wait too long lest you face disappointment!

Read more: 7 dating anxieties to overcome when you're over 50

 

Rule #3: The meetup

fiarground

Your first meeting should always be in a public space. It’s best to pick crowded cafes, restaurants or pubs. Just make sure the location is not too loud!

Don’t have your date pick you up at your home and be sure to arrange your own transportation to and from the rendezvous point.

As a safety precaution tell a friend or family member where you will be meeting your date and around what time you expect to be back.

Read more: 5 Mature dating myths debunked

 

Rule #4: Short and sweet

short date

Usually, it's obvious within the first ten minutes of a date whether the digital chemistry has translated to real life fireworks.

For this reason, it’s best to schedule the first date as a meeting for coffee, tea or cocktails. If things go well then you can always extend the date to a meal. But if things don’t go well, then it's easy to cut your losses and keep the date short.

It can be helpful to let your date know ahead of time that you need to wrap up by a certain time. If you are enjoying yourself you can always extend the date. 

 

Rule #5: Alcohol

don't alcohol date

You might be nervous, or excited, or a combination of both before your first date, and there might be a temptation to drink more so you’ll be relaxed. Or you may think that drinking more will make you charming, confident, or seem funnier. But there’s a risk here that things can go haywire with just a few more extra drinks than planned.

Plus, the person sitting across from you wants to get to know the real you. So, just be yourself and try to go easy on the alcohol.

 

Rule #6: Don’t overshare

don't overshare

It’s always good to leave a little mystery to keep the sparks flying. Try not to reveal too much too early on. For example, it's okay to talk about your job, but avoid intimate details about your work life.

Also it's okay to talk about how much you love yoga but don’t say that every Tuesday at 7pm, you go to Namaste Studio to work out. Potential stalkers could have ammo that you don’t want them to have.

 

Rule #7: You are in control

you are in control of the date

Always remember that you run the show. If you feel your date is overstepping in any way, you have the right to walk away.

If your date is being obnoxious or making remarks that are inappropriate, you are perfectly entitled to leave. You are absolutely not obligated to stick out the date! Know your boundaries, and respect them.

 

Rule #8: Enjoy the date

enjoy the date

Have fun on the date! If your date is thoughtful and pulls out your chair or compliments you, be polite and let them know you noticed the small things.

If the food tastes bad or the ambience is not perfect, try to make the best of it. Ask questions that are value driven rather than factual to really get to know the other person. For example, asking, “What do you do for a living?” is a lot less insightful than “What do you enjoy the most about your job?”

So go out there, be safe, and enjoy these early days of your new romance!

 

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