For the busy young woman and man on the go, everything comes in an app, from local supermarket produce to the latest New York Times bestseller. And love too. Which is probably why, popular dating app Tinder registers a growth of one per cent a day in India, a year since its launch. In 2011 alone, online dating in India registered as many as 15 million users.
But, not many of these dates end up as real-life romances. In America, where online dating is over two decades old, only 25 per cent of couples who are married or in long-term relationships met online, found a 2013 study by Pew Research Centre. Top reasons include reluctance to share true age, height or weight, making for awkward first dates.
How then do you make a smooth transition? Those who have been there, done that, share key lessons.
1)`IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT, MAKE A CLASSY EXIT’
I am active on Twitter and, through the years, I’ve met some wonderful people and struck long-term friendships. But, I have also encountered people with `twin’ personalities. I had been chatting with someone on Twitter, exchanging harmless banter. He asked if we could catch up over coffee and, after a background check (does someone apart from you know him?) we met up. The online him was jovial, witty, confident and quite a hit with the ladies. Offline, he was diminutive, squeaky-voiced and about a foot shorter than what he seemed online. The only option I had was to make a quick exit. If the person in front of you is not who you thought they were, would you move away or still make conversation? If you settle for the latter, treat him/her like a stranger. They may end up being interesting minus the baggage of perception. If you can’t handle it, exit swiftly after a polite chat, and gradually reduce online communication.
2)`DON’T FIB; BE YOURSELF’
Whether it’s dating or exchanging emails with a colleague, your online personality tends to be different from your real self. I have met people on social networking sites who revealed a contrary side to themselves. This bugs me, and gets in the way of conversation.
Women tend to be guarded during face-to-face meetings. You don’t have to be super-friendly or lay down your life’s trajectory on the first date because a little mystery is always alluring, but be friendly, natural and approachable. Don’t behave like you are judging the other or the conservation. Why not go with the flow, because if you’ve put yourself out there to meet a stranger, you might as well enjoy it.
3)`PICK A VENUE THAT WORKS FOR BOTH’
In India, women at a bar think you are a creep if you try striking a conversation (I don’t blame them because Indian guys are terrible at it, anyway). And so, online dating makes it a little easier for us to break the ice. I’ve made a couple of friends online and got talking to them extensively before meeting them.There’s always a bit of anxiety before the first meeting, but in-depth conversations make the chat a little easier.
When picking a venue, pick a public place. Either of your homes become private and intense settings. For someone who doesn’t drink, a coffee shop works well, else a bar is more relaxed. If you both are into movies and looking forward to an upcoming film, watch it together. However, make the decision in collaboration.