I’ve been thinking about the question of how you meet people a lot lately.
Half of the people I’ve dated I’ve known for awhile before we started dating, whether that be through work, or school, or hobbies. The other half are people I met off-chance and hit it off with. In both cases, it felt more like I knew that person in some capacity before we started dating, because we didn’t meet and the intention wasn’t immediately the possibility of a relationship of some sort (or was it?). Now that I’ve been frequenting the Tinder, I’m curious about how you date someone you’ve never met before? We’ve covered topics like: do I really want to be dating? And how am I going to know if I like them romantically? But we’ve never covered the ‘how do you even get to know someone from a strictly dating perspective?’
In my mind, there are three routes to dating:
1: You’re friends first. At least you know each other a little, if not very well. Somehow you realise you have feelings, you ruminate, someone makes a move, you date.
2: You meet organically, maybe through friends or family or at an event, you talk, sparks fly. Maybe it’s someone you’ve met before. You have mutual friends, you know of them but you don’t really know them, until the time you properly meet and you realise just you have a vested interest in them now. By your first date, the intention is there, you’re only on the date because you already knew there was something there.
3: You’re just putting yourself out there! So you’re on dating apps because no matter how many parks you sit in reading looking cute, no one approaches to ask what you’re reading (come on!). You go on dates with strangers. You maintain the “no expectations” rule going into the dates. But then, are you supposed to wait until you meet someone you have an instant connection with? Sometimes you’ll find yourself on the second or third date wondering who is this person, and at what point are you supposed to start having expectations.
Is It Easier Dating Someone You Know Well?
For a long time I was firmly in the camp that dating someone you know is ideal. Because you know their positive traits and their… less positive traits, and you like them anyways. You don’t feel the need to impress them, you can continue enjoying each other’s company, but with some added romantic benefits. Ideal, right? I’m starting to think not so much. There’s still a lot of idealisation that goes on here. Especially if you’ve harboured feelings for awhile. Plus the added complexity of “where is this going? what if it doesn’t work out?” There’s a lot of immediate pressure when you date someone you already know, and there’s a lot of opportunity for disappointment because expectations can be so high. Beyond this, if you have mutual friends the pressure is ON because there are so many eyes watching, wondering how it will go.
Or someone you know through friends?
I started out thinking the second route might be the best. The person already knows of you, they know some things about you (hopefully mostly good, but maybe also some bad). So, you’re not starting completely from scratch. You at least have some sort of background, some sort of idea of the type of person they are. Plus, you know what you’re on the date for. You know there is an interest involved. You might have some expectations, but there’s not the pressure of you already being friends and knowing each other well. More importantly, there’s no pressure of you having to figure out whether or not you’re really interested (but isn’t it always there?).
Or is dating someone you’ve never met the Best of all?
I crowd-sourced on this one recently, and asked who had dated someone they never met before and what they thought. I’ve used Tinder, and I’ve met a whole of two out of the many people I’ve talked to on Tinder. The first time famously went incredibly average. I have a knack for not putting my best foot forward and I left the date feeling like I really hadn’t sold myself very well. I decided I didn’t want to have to sell myself to someone and make myself seem interesting to them, so I deleted the app. Many moons later, I re-downloaded. It took an exceptional profile and a few good chats for me to meet up with another person. Safe to say, he was not at all what I expected. (I always break the no expectations rule, by the way, I just can’t help it).
The problem with dating someone you’ve never met
You have absolutely no clue what that person is like. Even if they have cute pictures, they could end up looking slightly different (hopefully not too much). They could be much quieter, or more provocative in person than they seemed online. It’s not quite the same as online dating that you’d find with people who met through Instagram, or Twitter, because Tinder and other dating apps can be very catered and less personal. Plus, when you’ve met on Tinder and then you meet up, you both know it’s a date unless it was otherwise specified.
The average person will be putting their best foot forward on a first date. They’ll want to seem like they have it all together and downplay any parts of their life that aren’t working out. It’s almost encouraging you to idealise them, but in this case it just means it will take more time to draw their personality out. Honestly, very rarely are you going to rush into things with someone you’ve met on the internet (says the girl living with her internet boyfriend that she met 7 months ago).
My hot take on dating someone I’d never met before
Personally, I really liked dating a stranger. I hated it at first. But then I liked it. However I am also the person who moved overseas without a job or an apartment.