This week's question comes from Nancy:
“Hello Orna and Matthew,
I have questions about how to meet someone for the first time who doesn’t live near me.
Hopefully, I have found the man of my dreams through a dating app. I want to meet him at a special place (like I said, this is a long-distance meeting). I’ve never gone to them first and I don’t usually pursue, but I am feeling like I really want to this time. Is this ok?
I’m not worried about my safety (even though this will be our first meeting). I have two weeks to get my self-esteem together and do the right thing.
I’m so fearful about screwing this up. Please help me!”
When you meet someone for the first time, here are some tips for making sure you feel empowered to get the most out of this situation.
Meeting for the first time after you have been communicating on the phone, via video, and by email for a while you can have a lot of expectations and hope about how things will go. It is easy to have heightened expectations about the possibilities for the relationship.
Here is the most important thing to remember about dating online and communicating via text or video chat. Nothing is real until you meet in person.
What this means is that you don’t really know what it is going to feel like to be with this person until you are in his physical presence. Everything you are feeling is a fantasy you’ve created in your mind. This is not to be cruel or critical – just to point out the truth of the situation. No matter how many video chats, phone calls, and text messages you’ve exchanged, you don’t for sure whether you’ll have the spark of chemistry in person.
When you meet someone for the first time, you’ll want to be conscientious of the fact that a lot of what you think is going on between the two of you has been happening only in your mind.
Your mind fills in the blanks as a survival mechanism so it’s natural to fill in the blanks, particularly when there are a lot of unknowns. Your desire for love, and your desire to finally meet the right guy, will cloud your vision by slanting your experience toward the positive.
Before meeting in person for the first time, take a step back and get a better perspective so you can make the best decisions to mitigate the risks to your heart.
Your current situation is actually very common. It’s so tempting when you come across a well-written profile that matches your ideal partner to become emotionally invested before you even speak and to imagine you’ve met your soulmate. Or to have a man come on strong professing his attraction to you and his desire for a relationship and get emotionally invested while he is still a complete stranger.
One of our male clients booked a week-long trip to London after communicating via Skype with a woman, only to discover as soon as they met for the first time that there was no spark of attraction. (Despite the fact that they had been having regular video dates for several months.) He finally understood the importance of slowing things down and keeping expectations in check.
In order to avoid disappointment when you meet someone for the first time, you’ll want to shift your mindset and set yourself up for success.
Here Are The 10 Most Important Tips When You Meet Someone For The First Time:
Have Him Come To You
Your instinct that traveling to him is also pursuing him is correct. You don’t want to step into the masculine role this early in the relationship. The best way to know a man’s intentions is to allow him to pursue you through the dating process.
This may sound old-fashioned although it’s more about laying the foundation for you to discover if he truly wants a relationship, or just something convenient.
If this relationship evolves into a commitment, over time the masculine and feminine roles become more fluid. Pursuing him and stepping into a more masculine role early in the dating process will only create a dynamic between the two of you that is difficult to reverse.
A man who wants a committed relationship with you will pursue you for a committed relationship. He will be willing to travel to you, take things at your pace, and do what it takes to make you happy to win your heart.
One of our clients lives in rural Pennsylvania and she was worried that she wouldn’t find any men to date that are geographically nearby. After a month of coaching with us, she had men traveling 2-3 hours to meet her for a first date. You are worth traveling for. Don’t shortchange yourself.
Make The Trip As Short As Possible
When you meet someone for the first time you don’t want to book a three-day weekend only to discover within 5 minutes that you’re not compatible. Try to set up the first meeting for as short a time as possible. If it goes well then it will leave both of you wanting more, which is a good thing.
One of our clients met a man who had traveled from out of town to meet her in the city. He planned to stay the whole weekend. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that they were not a good match. After struggling to find common ground the first day, they agreed not to meet up again.
Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by anticipating a first in-person meeting to be something big and romantic. Keep it small. Give the two of you the opportunity to get to know each other in a more casual setting. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to plan longer, more romantic trips if everything goes well.
Have An Agreement About Physical Intimacy Before You Meet Someone For The First Time
When you meet someone for the first time you don’t want any assumptions about what may or may not happen to create an awkward situation.
Know what it means to you when you choose to sleep with someone you are dating. Does it mean that you are in an exclusive relationship? Are you okay being casual about sex and not letting it create more expectations?
Have some ground rules for whether and when you feel comfortable sleeping with him. You don’t want to have a romantic dinner with a little too much wine and end up regretting the decision the next day. A man who wants a relationship with you will be willing to wait. You get to set the pace of the relationship during the dating process. Never abdicate your power by moving forward to physical intimacy before you’re 100% comfortable with it.
Have Him Book A Hotel, An Air BNB, Or Stay With A Friend
Never have him stay at your place when you meet someone for the first time. There are simply too many scenarios where things could go wrong. It is important to have clear boundaries in the beginning and an extra bonus is that having agreed upon boundaries creates respect. All healthy, lasting relationships require respect.
It is not your job to make things easy or convenient for him. He is a grown man. He can solve his own problems about where to stay and how to get around. You can certainly give him suggestions and steer him in the right direction but avoid taking control over his itinerary.
Another important reason he should never stay at your place is that you’ll want to have time alone to notice your feelings after the two of you part. This will give you an opportunity to gain clarity and discover any insights about the situation that cannot be accomplished if he’s in the next room.
Let Him Choose What To Do
You may be the best tour guide for your hometown, but you don’t want to be the man in this situation. Let him decide what he would like to experience. You can certainly give him options to choose from, but ultimately it ought to be his decision where to take you. This way he can budget accordingly.
It’s also important to have clear communication about how you want to handle who is paying for what. He is the one asking you out for a date and traveling to see you, so it is his responsibility to pick up the check, but you’re not dating like it’s 1956. Splitting the check may simply be a budgetary concern and a valid one.
If Things Don’t Go Smoothly; Don’t Try To Fix It For Him
It is not your responsibility to make every moment perfect or to ease any discomfort. Show up authentically and relax into your feminine energy. Leave space for awkward pauses and uncomfortable moments.
A man who wants a long-term committed relationship will want to be your hero. If you continue to rescue things when they get bumpy, you’ll never know if he will step up to fill those shoes. Plus, you’ll get a clearer picture of who he is when you leave the space for him to do all the DOING and you just simply respond.
Even if you feel uncomfortable resist the urge to make things better. Imagine that he is the comedian on stage and you’re in the audience. Taking this approach, you’ll never again have to ask a man three months into dating, “Where is this going?” He will have shown you by his actions what his intentions are.
Don’t Make Excuses For Him Or His Behavior
Talking on the phone or over video chat will not give you insight into who he really is. Being with him out in the world and seeing how he interacts with valets, waiters, or other service people will reveal more.
If his behavior towards you or anyone else is troubling to you, don’t make excuses for bad behavior. If you have concerns then speak up and share how you feel. Take note of behaviors that could be part of a bigger pattern that may concern you.
When you meet someone for the first time the desire for it to be magical and romantic can cloud your judgment. It’s okay to be nervous and to want things to go well. Take off your rose-colored glasses and see him for who he is, not who you want him to be.
Practice Being Present And Not Futurizing Your Relationship
Just because you’ve invested time getting to know him virtually doesn’t mean that there is a future for this relationship yet. Get present to what is happening right now, not what may happen in the future. Beware of dressing him up in groom's clothing and instead focus on the present situation and continue to meet and date other people.
Getting to know another person takes time so don’t rush through the process. Practice staying present in each moment. Notice when you are filling in the blanks or checking off boxes. Let go of any agenda and you’ll have a much better time. Relax and enjoy discovering who he is and know you’ll be okay no matter what comes next.
Stick To Your Plan
What if everything goes perfectly and the two of you really hit it off? Does that mean that he should extend his stay so the two of you can take things even further?
Resist the urge to change the plan because things are going well. If he really wants a relationship with you then there will be plenty of time for the two of you to take your relationship further.
Leaving him wanting more at the end of his visit is exactly how you want him to depart. Express gratitude for the time you’ve shared together and let him know you’re open to seeing him again.
When you meet someone for the first time the desire for it to feel special should not get in the way of taking things slowly. It takes time to know who someone really is. By taking things slowly you allow the space for emotional intimacy to blossom.
A good man is not a unicorn, nor is this guy. Just because you have a great connection on video chat or on the phone does not mean that he is the right man for you. Release the pressure of needing him to be “The One!” Whatever happens when he visits, know that you are on your way to your beloved.
Put aside your expectations and allow yourself to show up authentically by speaking how you feel. By practicing these tips, you can get to know each other and discover if there is chemistry without putting too much pressure on the first visit.
If things go well, you can plan a longer, romantic trip the next time. And if they don’t go well, at least you didn’t waste a whole weekend trying to have a good time with a stranger you’ll never see again.
During the dating process never put your lovability in the hands of a stranger. Stay in your power by being clear on your boundaries and enforcing them while remaining cautiously optimistic.
When you meet someone for the first time after getting to know them virtually, you’ll want to feel confident about your ability to judge whether they are a match for you or not. If you keep giving your heart to someone who breaks it, or you’re tired of struggling to find someone to date, we can help! Download our complimentary guide, 7 Steps To Soulmating. You’ll receive our top dating strategies that have helped thousands to take an intentional approach to lasting love and finally create their soulmate relationship.
Orna and Matthew Walters are Soulmate Coaches who have been featured guest experts on Bravo’s THE MILLIONAIRE MATCHMAKER. They uncover subconscious blocks to love so that you can select an ideal partner to share your life with. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.