Yesterday, I received a letter from a newly-separated woman who’d recently signed up on a dating site. She wrote:
“I read your article that said you don’t spend a lot of time talking to prospective dates on the phone or IM because you find it sets up false expectations. My concern is that I’m going to meet a wacko or stalker! So how long DO you talk to online men before meeting face-to-face?”
When it comes right down it, I think every woman/man has to that ‘time’ decision for herself/himself. So many factors come into play, ie: how long you’ve been separated, how much you trust your intuition, your confidence level, your comfort with the online medium, etc.
The very first man I met off a dating site I treated like a sociopath. Seriously – I must have asked him a thousand questions over a period of three weeks before agreeing to meet. And though I now look back on that and chuckle, I know I was in a different head/heart-space back then. Moreover, I was shocked and kinda frightened by the dynamic world of e-dating. I needed time to adjust, so I took it – and so should you. My golden rule: never allow anyone to pressure you into meeting before YOU think you’re ready. Period.
My approach to e-dating today is way more relaxed in some ways, yet stricter in others. I tend to rely heavily on my intuition, how ever communication transpires. (Remember, I’ve been accused of brushing men off too easilyJ).
As a general rule, I tend to exchange a handful of emails with a man, or have a few brief IM chats (I don’t have hours to chat so I keep them under a half-hour). Usually I have a phone conversation with him too – the phone is way more telling than the computer in my books.
I’m also always on the look-out for red flags – you know, if he’s secretive, if he won’t send photos, if his IM response time is delayed as if he’s talking to another woman simultaneously…
And even if I do meet a man in person, I don’t normally give out my address, phone number, or any info on my kids. AND I make sure we meet in a public place.
I think common sense and intuition go a long way in the e-dating world. And as my wise best friend Hali once said to me, “If you meet a guy in a bar and give him your phone number without knowing much about him, he could just as easily be a stalker or freak as these guys you screen online.” I agree.