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Online Dating: The First Date

Online Dating Series, Part 4: The First Date, dating in middle age, dating over 50
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BY KITT WALSH

You took a chance on online dating, carefully searched which dating site to use, wrote and honest profile, and got some responses that interested you. Bravo! Now it’s the moment of truth…the first date. Now what do you do?

Do your homework: Email back and forth a few times (don’t get obsessive) and reread the “conversations” for some conversational clues to use during the date. Also determine what your date’s interests are and file them away for future date suggestions. (For example, someone mentions they are an organic gardener, you’d better determine that they are not a vegetarian, before you suggest meeting at a steakhouse.)

Rethink dinner: A long, intimate meal is putting a lot of pressure on the both of you as virtual strangers. A couple of hours of sustaining conversation with someone you may find mind-numbingly dull once you get to know then could be tortuous. Perhaps meeting for coffee or a drink would be a better choice. You can make a quicker escape or, if you really hit it off, the meeting can be extended.

Meet in a public place: You would think this would be a no-brainer, but never invite a stranger to your home (nor share the address right off.) Better still, hookup somewhere you will have several friends (though they needn’t sit with you like a group date.) Try a baseball game or a bar where you have backup (and people to leave with if things go awry.) At least let a family member or a friend know where you are going, when, and with whom.

Drive yourself: If a date goes poorly, you don’t want to be stuck in that silent (or even hostile) car. Also, if you leave alone, make sure you aren’t followed and if you are, drive straight to a police station and report the person.

Skip the movie or concert: Try to pick a place where you can actually speak and get to know each other.

Make suggestions: If you are proposing the date or if you are asked where you’d like to go, have a list made up of interesting places you’d enjoy (and, if you are truly thoughtful, you will have ascertained some of your date’s preferences during the getting-to-know-them messaging stage and can suggest places the two of you would like.)

Nail down the details: “Want to go horseback riding?” should be followed by “The stables rent horses from 10-12 this Saturday. Would you like to meet there then?” eliminates a lot of texts and phone calls to firm up details. Only one confirming message is required.

Keep the conversation light: Especially if you are new to dating (this time round) or have been lonely, the temptation is to divulge everythingto be a motor mouth. Remember to ask lots of questions, so the other person feels important and knows you are interested and really listen when they speak. When it’s your turn, steer away from all your deep, dark secrets and share some upbeat things about yourself.

Be mannerly: Be on time; put away your cellphone; find something nice to say about them and, if you proposed the date, offer (sincerely) to pick up the check. If you are the “guest,” offer to split the bill, but no check wrestling.

Careful of alcohol consumption: Whipping back a martini or two might help calm your nerves, but they might also cause you to be too loose-tonged and disclose personal info too soon (or worse still, you might find your self getting too personal in other ways sooner than you would sober.)

If you had fun: Say so, ask to see them again soon, then follow up. The three-day rule is dead and at our end of life time flies, so call to thank them the next day and make new plans for a second date.

If you didn’t have fun: No need to duck the person forever. Again manners come into play. Write a kind rejection along the lines of, “I had a nice time the other night and thank you for your company but I didn’t think we had a lot of chemistry together, so thanks again and I wish you good luck on your search.” Then shut up. (And no post-mortem about what they didn’t like about you. Sorry, there are just some things you’ll never know in life.)

Being good at dating takes practice so accept dates from lots of diverse people. At worst, you will broaden your horizons. At best, you might meet the (next) ‘One”.

 

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Kitt Walsh owns a web content company, Behind Blogs (http://www.behindblogs.com), is a regular contributor to CNN Money, a public speaker on Social Media, a book editor and ghostwriter, and freelances as a feature writer, editor and marketing consultant for magazines, newspapers and private clients around the world.