Research has shown that one in three marriages in the US today begin online¹. With a proliferation of online dating platforms and premium apps like EliteSingles, the number of people meeting online has risen sharply over the last few years. This means that the relatively new social skill of how to meet people online, and make it work offline, is becoming increasingly important in establishing new relationships. To ease this transition of digital love into real life we take you through some useful steps for a growing relationship.
Meeting and speaking initially online can produce a secure environment to get to know each other. The distance created by what can be termed ‘screen separation’ enables people to curate a favorable impression, buy time to reply, and space to decide how to respond.
However, even if the goal of these interactions is to find love online, you do need to meet face-to-face and develop a real and romantic personal relationship. In order to do so both you and your partner will need to start at the beginning, meet for the first time and go on the hotly-anticipated first date. Be ready to put forward the best and most authentic you to give your relationship the greatest chance to succeed following these guidelines…
How to meet new people: safety first
When meeting a new person for the first time, it is important to put safety first. Here are a few simple measures you can take to ensure your safety and to help you feel relaxed and ready to meet.
- Tell a trusted friend or family member where and when you are meeting so someone else knows the details of your date.
- Meet in a public place which is neutral for both of you.
- Trust your gut instinct – if something doesn’t feel right or if you feel uncomfortable, say no.
Although you don’t want to damper the excitement of the first meeting, it is better to be safe in how you setup on the meeting. You will enjoy it more having taken measures to feel secure when you meet new people for the first time.
Where to meet new people: meet people in your area
When deciding where to meet, there are several factors to consider. You want to meet in a place that is mutually convenient, interesting and fun. It is also good to meet at a familiar place as meeting someone for the first time can be nerve-racking. In order to make a positive connection and progress in this new relationship the more relaxed you feel in your environment, the higher the chance you can be yourself and make a good impression.
In view of that, it can be helpful to meet in your area – be that geographically, a place where you have been before or an area of interest of yours, such as an arcade games venue, a library or museum – a place where you can flaunt your knowledge and skills and feel comfortable. When you meet people online it can be daunting to then meet face-to-face for the first time, so give yourself all the advantages to make it easier.
Read more: If you want to know more about safety tips, here are some helpful do’s and don’ts
Great expectations: bring it into check
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are”, D. Miller
Now that you have your location and safety steps planned, it is time to get your mental attitude ready to meet new people. William Shakespeare famously said expectation is the root of all heartache. When meeting a new person, it is easy to get carried away in the excitement of the moment and go into it with sky high expectations. Examples of these could be thoughts like ‘he is going to look a certain way’ or ‘she is going to behave a certain way’.
These preconceived notions however can bring your budding romance to a standstill as it takes away the freedom for each individual to be who they are, warts and all. Remember, your date is also feeling nervous about meeting you! First impressions can be superficial, so going in with an open and an accepting view point facilitates the opportunity for you both to be at ease.
Body language: make words with your body
Along with your mental attitude, your body language can go a long way in facilitating the transition from the point of how to meet people online to making it work successfully offline. Before meeting for the first time, take a few minutes and do some basic power posing. As Amy Cuddy outlines in her TED talk on body language, after two minutes power posing increases testosterone by around 20 percent, while decreasing cortisol by a quarter2.
This means on a physical level, your stress will decrease and you will feel more powerful, which in turn increases your confidence and attractiveness to others. The most well known of these poses include the ‘Wonder Woman’, putting your hands on your hips and holding for two minutes, and the ‘V’, raising your arms in a V shape for victory. Do this before meeting, and during the course of your date you can pop to the bathroom and do it in a stall if you need a little extra boost!
You can also use your body language to convey your interest and likeability. Mimicry is a powerful tool in personal interactions and it often happens on a subconscious level. People are drawn to others who seem similar to them – an increased sense of similarity increases connection and attraction between two people. You can emulate your date’s actions and gestures, but only do so in a natural and subtle way. A few tips to communicate your interest also include leaning towards your date during conversation, tilting your head, which indicates you are relating to them, and maintaining eye contact3. If all is going well, you will find these things occurring naturally.
Dating: one step at a time
Being prepared practically, mentally and emotionally, you’ll hopefully have enjoyed your first date and are now able to move on to a second and third. Now as you move into undiscovered territory, you need to navigate a new arena – building a relationship. After the initial excitement of meeting online and then for the first time in person, one of the best stages of a budding relationship is when this connection starts to become part of your everyday life.
Take your time and get to know each other. There is no rush. Enjoy the early stages when every detail is riveting, and you get to learn the special minutiae about each other. A great way to transition into this stage is to find shared activities which you both enjoy. Working as a team builds cohesion in a relationship and a little bit of friendly competition goes a long way to develop camaraderie. So jump on your bicycle and start cycling, join a chess club, challenge him to a tennis match or do a puzzle together, or even head out on a double date – whatever it may be, find your groove together and experiment with fun date ideas.
At this stage it is also important to lower your defenses and communicate openly and honestly. You have now progressed in your relationship and need to build a foundation of trust. This enables you to talk through the questions and boundaries that go into setting up a new relationship, and get to know each other on a deeper level. Lastly, show your affection, not only the physical kind. The chemistry is still sizzling hot, but show your new partner your heart, and express how important a part of your life they are becoming.
Falling in love: forever after
Having successfully transitioned from online dating to everyday life, the challenge becomes continuing to grow your relationship and keeping the romance alive. Having moved through the various stages of a relationship, from meeting online, to dating, and now this ultimate phase when a relationship is solidified and becomes love, you need to put in a different kind of effort.
For your forever after, it is good to focus on certain elements, including interdependence, acceptance, acknowledgement and playfulness4. Create a relationship where you value each other’s independence and space, so you can flourish together and not cramp each other’s style in the long run. This is now when the little things which bother you can come to the fore, and it is important to accept each other wholeheartedly, for who you both respectively are and not who you want your partner to be.
A great way to achieve this is to continue to acknowledge your partner’s strengths and attributes which attracted you to them in the first place. In addition, use playfulness to keep the spark and mystery alive and strong. Never stop having fun together. Use the technology that helped you meet to stoke the coals. Text each other loving messages in the day, email your partner a surprise voucher, plan a treasure hunt leaving photo clues in a Dropbox folder – get creative and keep your relationship alive with love and laughter.
To meet people online is fast becoming one of the most accepted ways to find the love of your life. Enjoy the journey from stranger to significant other, using both your head and your heart to guide you on the adventure of building a relationship and life together.
And if you want to get started on your journey to forever after, why not sign up with EliteSingles today?
 Zytko, D & Grandhi, S. 2014. Impression Management through Communication in Online Dating, writing for CSCW Companion 14, Maryland, USA, found at http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2556487&dl=ACM&coll=DL&CFID=747736777&CFTOKEN=59774927
 Carney, D., Cuddy, A. & Yap, A. 2010. Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendrocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance, writing for Psychological Science found at http://www.people.hbs.edu/acuddy/in%20press,%20carney,%20cuddy,%20&%20yap,%20psych%20science.pdf.
 Wong, C. 2016. Body Language Hacks to Take on a First Date, found at https://www.meetmindful.com/body-language-hacks/.
 Goldsmith, B. PhD. 2013. 8 Ways to Make Your Relationship Work Better for Psychology Today, found at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201309/8-ways-make-your-relationship-work-better