If you’ve been away from the dating world for a while, diving back in can be intimidating. Technology and a quickly changing dating culture can make it feel like you’re entering a completely foreign landscape. But while the methods of making contact keep changing, the basic rules for connecting with another human being remain fairly stable. A few reminders:
1) Talk, Don’t Text. Before you drive across town to meet someone for coffee, it makes sense that you’d want to communicate a bit first. For a lot of people, this means texting. I think this is a waste of time. Shooting one-liners and emojis to another person won’t tell you much about them—since you can’t experience their facial expressions, voice inflections or responses in real time. With a phone call, you’ll at least get two of those things—and you still don’t have to leave the house yet.
2) But Do Leave The House. The other problem with texting is that many people get addicted to their portable flirtation device and delay meeting for weeks or even months. The back-and-forth is so much fun that they don’t want to risk the disappointment of an in-person meeting. The problem is, when all you have to go on are those balloons of type, your mind will fill in the blanks. You’ll create fantasy versions of each other—and greatly increase the odds that you will be disappointed. Keep the stakes low by meeting before you get emotionally hooked.
3) Make it Easy. Don’t try to impress your first date by booking a fancy French restaurant or getting pricey tickets to a play or concert. Find a spot that is relatively convenient for both of you. Of course, a coffee shop or a wine bar are nice low-stress choices, but you can also invite your date to join you for something you were going to do anyway—taking a walk with your dog in the park, or checking out a nearby street fair.
4) But Make An Effort. Even if your date is decidedly casual, you still want to present well. Few sights are more depressing than a date who shows up dressed to clean the garage. A nice-button down shirt is just as comfortable as a sports jersey, but it sends a much better message; namely “I’m an adult who respects myself and you,” rather than “I have given up.”
Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.