- Having a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend
- Dating in your pajamas for the rest of eternity while eating a pint of Chunky Monkey
- Sitting behind your computer and assuming that you just had a “hot date”
In many ways, “online dating” is a misnomer. It could instead be called “online introductions” because the actual “dating” part should still be in person. Period.
It’s easy to fall in love with someone’s online dating profile, isn’t it? In fact, a client who lives in MD just told me this morning that she “really likes everything about” this guy in NY based on his JDate profile. I reminded her that this person is not real until she’s had a face-to-face interaction with him. It’s just words on a page and a picture until then.
People join online dating sites for many reasons: To find an activity partner, a friend, a date, a one-night stand, a long-term relationship, or marriage. All it takes is the click of a button to list what we’d like to find in our online dating adventure. Curiously enough, “pen pal” is not an option. Why? Because people do not join online dating sites to simply email back and forth with no end in sight. People are looking to form a real relationship, not an “e-lationship.”
It’s not too forward to ask someone out for a drink or coffee after one or two emails back and forth. (And I generally recommend that the guy does the asking.) If a woman responds to your email or reaches out to you on her own (which I strongly encourage women to do), she’s probably interested enough to meet in person.
Of course, some people don’t know when it’s appropriate to move from the email to the date and err on the side of caution (aka waiting too long), so in this case, I recommend saying something like, “I’m really enjoying these emails. Should we meet for a drink next week? I’m free Monday or Wednesday if either works for you.” If they take the bait or suggest a different day, then that’s great! If the answer is simply no (or there’s no answer), then it’s time to move on. If someone is perpetually busy, either he or she is secretly the President of the Universe or is trying to get out of meeting in person for some reason. Don’t dwell on it. It wasn’t meant to be.
If meeting in person is not feasible for some reason (perhaps you don’t live close enough to meet in a timely fashion), then the best thing to do is to suggest that you Skype or FaceTime. It takes just as long to dial someone’s number and chat for a few minutes as it does to sit down and email each other, so if someone declines this offer, that is a major red flag.
My advice? Meet offline as soon as you can. If you like each other, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing. And if you don’t, you can move on and also be glad you didn’t waste all that time emailing. Win-win! Don’t be the next story on Catfish: The TV Show.
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.