You've become a member of an excellent online relationship site. You read through all the excellent profiles. You found an excellent one written by a seemingly excellent woman. You wrote her an excellent first email. You received an excellent response. You wrote her a super-excellent second email. You received a super-excellent second response.
So what happens next? Whose job is it to take it to the next level? How soon is it appropriate to exchange phone numbers? Should you give her your digits, or should you ask for hers? Should you meet for lunch or for dinner, for coffee or for drinks?
The answer to these questions is... there is no answer.
There isn't any documented "netiquette" on the how's, when's, and where's of your first off-line date. Each encounter has its own rhythm, and its own rules. That said, here are some thoughts to keep in the back of your head when planning and executing offline date number one:
1. Don't jump the gun
The email vibe between you and your prospective honey may be pulsing big-time, but it might be worth waiting two, three, or even four extra exchanges before asking if she'd like you to call her. On the other hand, sometimes you can tell right away if you need to get Ma Bell involved in the proceedings.
2. Talk, talk and talk some more
Once you start the phone dialogue, make sure it doesn't stop. You might've already emailed each other your respective life stories, and you may have told her some of your most intimate secrets - like the time you won that hot dog eating contest in college—but in the game of love, the written word will never replace the spoken word.
3. Measure the click factor
By the time you've talked, and talked, and talked some more, you'll know. You'll know whether this person is somebody you could date, or somebody who could be a good friend, or somebody who you never want to speak to again. No matter what, don't mislead her. If you only want to be friends, tell her. If you don't want to stay in contact, tell her. But if you like her, go right ahead and set up that date.
4. Pick a public place
Even if you've grown to trust this person implicitly, you still shouldn't immediately invite her over to your pad. Meet at your fave restaurant, or her fave coffee shop. And this may sound harsh, but you should probably choose a place with an escape route.
5. Don't pick a lame place Alan Goldsher is a Chicago-based writer, advice columnist, and author of
This is where you have the opportunity to shine. Go to her profile and do some deductive reasoning. Take what she says she'd do on her day off, divide that with her answer to the favorite places question, then multiply that by her favorite types of music. What does all this add up to? An excellent first date!
Jam, Hard Bop Academy, The Record Haus and
Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read.