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From Online to In-Person: Navigating the First Date

How to take the conversation from the web to face-to-face.

Bad Date

Red Flags

One of the biggest mistakes of online communication is thinking a relationship forged from over-sharing is the real deal. There’s always the chance that the person you got to know online isn’t what she seems. Men aren’t the only predators hunting for their next mark or broken toys searching for someone who can “fix them.” If your date is too eager too soon, or seems a little too interested in your personal finances, or for some reason just makes the hair on your arms stand up—and not in a good way—it’s best to proceed with caution, if at all.

“If someone starts talking about the future at the first meeting, or even if she jumps into bed with [you] the same night (unless it was a sex match-up site), be on the lookout for a clingy, dependent type,” Davidson warns. “Also watch the type of questions she asks. Some information will be designed to ensure her own safety; other information is just inappropriate—like discussing or asking about intimate details of past relationships early on. Usually, if something feels ‘weird’ or ‘off,’ it probably is, so trust your instincts.”

Finally, Davidson notes, guys should avoid getting so wrapped up in their own fantasies about someone that they miss the cues that would otherwise tell them she’s not right for them. “Sometimes we are our own worst enemies in that when our hopes and fantasies clash with reality, we tend to over-focus on the fantasy and make excuses for or rationalize the reality,” she explains.  “Men are just as prone to this as women. I’d advise the same degree of self-awareness that I’d suggest to women in order to avoid the mess that can ensue as a result.”

If your Spidey Sense tells you something’s amiss—say she’s 10 years older than she led you to believe, swapped out her pic for someone else’s on her profile, or invites you to her sister’s wedding for your next date—there’s nothing wrong with cutting your losses, as long as you do it tactfully. (No matter how bad/scary the date may be, flirting with the waitress—or any woman who isn’t your date, or worse, excusing yourself to the men’s room and leaving her with the bill is not acceptable behavior.)

NEXT: Never Leave Home Without an Exit Strategy >>

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