When to Move Offline from Online Dating

P. J. Aitken

Jul 21 2020

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You have found the perfect match. They seem to have many of the same interests, they look great in their profile pictures, and they’re not too far away—now what? When do you know it’s time to move from instant messages and flirty texts to an actual first date?

Regardless of the dating app or dating website you’re using, this guide will help you make the switch from online dating to offline dating.

5 Tips to Successfully Move Your Online Relationship Offline

Step 1 – Get to Know Them

Online dating has made life easier for singletons all over the world. It takes the stress and hassle out of dating, streamlining the process and allowing you to peruse more matches in less time.

It also makes the transition from online dating to offline dating much easier. In the past, if you were set up by a friend or meeting someone after only a brief exchange, the first date made for an incredibly anxious and awkward experience.

But with online dating, you’ve already laid the foundations and gotten to know them; you know that the first date won’t consist of three hours of awkward smiles and empty conversation and there’s a good chance you will connect.

However, this only applies if you spend some time actually getting to know the person.

woman texting on phone

It’s important not to dive in head-first and arrange a hasty meeting just because you like their profile picture and have a few hours to kill.

It’s equally important not to place too much emphasis on what they say in their profile. Just because they have the same interests as you, doesn’t mean you will get along.

What happens if you are both painfully shy and awkward? What happens if you like the same music and films, but have completely opposing political and moral views?

First, you should take your time getting to know someone via the online dating platform that you’re both using. You don’t want to exchange numbers, email addresses, social media accounts, or meet in person until you get a good feeling about them. Plus, if you suggest moving the conversation offline too fast, you could risk scaring that person away.

Once you’ve exchanged a number of thoughtful messages (not just “hi” — but actually getting to know you messages) and seem to click, suggest exchanging phone numbers.

Step 2 – Exchange Phone Numbers

Before you contemplate meeting in person, you need to establish contact away from the online dating app or website.

Giving them your phone number allows you to hear their voice and have a conversation that is more natural and free-flowing than what you can have over instant messages.

More importantly, it sets the wheels in motion and is the first step toward asking them for a date in person.

If they willingly exchange numbers with you, they could be ready to meet. If they change the subject or downright refuse, you’re probably fighting a losing battle.

It’s not just about direct conversation, either. You can also simply text them. In that sense, it’s no different from an instant message conversation, but in reality, the simple exchange of numbers helps to bring you closer together.

Step 3 – Meeting Immediately vs Taking Your Time

If a new match has already asked to meet and you’re eager not to disappoint, arrange to meet for an afternoon coffee as opposed to an evening meal. Keep it short and sweet, because if you don’t hit it off, you don’t want to spend the entire evening staring awkwardly at one another.

On the other hand, if you’ve spent several weeks talking and the question hasn’t been raised, you need to ask yourself whether you’re speaking with someone who’s shy or busy and waiting for you to make the first move, or you’re speaking with someone who simply isn’t interested.

Are your messages getting quick responses and are they giving you in-depth information about their hobbies, likes/dislikes, and how they spend their days, or are they responding with one or two words and never speak first?

If it’s the former, make the move; if it’s the latter, you might be in a one-sided relationship. In both cases, if you’re eager, ask them; the worst they can do is say no.

man and woman on a first date

Step 4 -Watch Out for the Red Flags

The great thing about posing the “can we meet” question is that it weeds out the scammers and catfish. Generally, a scammer/catfish will feed you a long list of excuses. They may tell you that they are working away, in the military, or don’t have a working webcam.

If so, persist. Ask them when they can meet and remind them you’re not looking for a pen pal and need to meet eventually. If they set a date, great. If they are standoffish and ambiguous, keep pushing.

Use a Reverse Image Search on their profile picture if you’re concerned about their legitimacy. You can also ask for their social media usernames and check their profile history, including their friends, comments, and more.

It’s relatively easy to determine if an account is legitimate or not. Online dating scammers often have very few followers and post little content. Most will simply tell you that they don’t have social media accounts.

Signs of a catfish:

  • Have fewer than 100 followers, mostly of the same gender
  • Are not tagged in anyone’s pictures
  • Have pictures that are all staged and taken alone or with people who are not tagged

Many of the best online dating sites, including Elite Singles and Match, go to great lengths to stop scammers and catfish, but there’s often very little they can do, which means the onus is on you to be diligent.

Step 5 – Ask Someone Out

Now that you know when to make the switch from online dating to offline, one question remains: How?

It’s important not to rush into this, as you don’t want to scare them away. Instead, wait for the following signs, all of which suggest that your match is ready to take the plunge:

  • An exchange of contact information, including email, phone number, Skype, Facebook, etc.,
  • Conversations that go deeper than brief questions and answers.
  • Regular contact outside of the online dating website.
  • They send you regular compliments.

Only when all or most of these things are happening, is it time to ask them on a date. If none of them have occurred, it’s not time to inquire about how to ask someone out—it’s time to send more messages, be more active on that dating app, and get closer to your match!

Conclusion: Taking Online Dating into the Real World

For many singletons, making the switch from online dating to offline dating is a terrifying experience. But it’s important to remember that this is your ultimate goal and while taking the leap can be nervy, it’ll all be worth it in the end.

What’s more, by getting to know the person in advance, speaking with them on the phone and generally being more comfortable with them, that first meeting won’t feel so awkward and strange.

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