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Women enjoying date

Met someone online and got a date lined up? Nice work, handshake for you my friend. But what to do in that seemingly never-ending limbo between cheeky emails and a coffee or drink? Fear not, the guide to a seamless romantic segue is here…

To phone or not to phone?

It’s a biggie – the biggest question of all, perhaps. Apart from the obvious need to make a rendezvous by text, should you chat to a potential date on the phone before you meet for the first time? Will it ruin the surprise for either of you? Will you lose your composure and sound like a gibbering idiot? So many pitfalls…

The general consensus on pre-date calls from friends and experts is ‘yes’. “When I used to date, and I’m sure it’s the case with you, I found that talking first just breaks the ice,” says Rob Ryall who runs dateinadash.com. “When you do meet it’s not like you’re meeting a total stranger, it can be more like old friends acquainting.”

 

But hold on – what if I want to keep my number private?

Good point. If you’re like me and have a phone full of numbers called things like ‘John Plenty of Fish’ – men you’ve had text relationships with but never met – you might not want to give out your number at all. If a potential date asks for your digits tell them “I’d love to swap numbers before we meet, but email works fine for me just now,” and do your pre-date chat there. The beauty of email is that if it’s not working out, you can just let the conversation die:. Give them the old “Silent No”.

“They can have my email and if that’s not good enough then he can get lost,” says my friend Shannon Corbett. “Any man worth meeting will be happy to carry on talking on email before you meet for the first time.”

 

Steer clear of text maniacs

The advent of the text-everybody-all-the-time era is a new kind of dating nuisance: the person who spins out the pre-date chat with endless SMSs and never quite gets round to closing the deal. Nerves or natural chattiness? Either way it can drive you mad.

“If your one or two-liners are turning into novellas but there is no sign of a meet-up,” says Brett Harding, MD at Lovestruck.com, “feel free to say, ‘I enjoy chatting online but for me, meeting someone in person is really important to see if there’s a connection. What about you…?’ If they avoid the question or make excuses then move on without a backwards glance.”

 

Picture this… a few times if you want to

Hands up if you’ve been on a date with someone who doesn’t look anything like his or her profile picture? Yep? Me too. Many times. I now have a ‘please send a recent pic’ rule before a date. The trick is to say it nicely: “Ooh, got any pictures of you on that holiday last month then?” often works. Or a straight forward “Got any more recent photos?” if you’re the more direct type. If they say no it’s a good bet that the pics on their profile are a couple of years old, taken in a kind light or are actually – look closely! – a photoshopped pic of Ryan Gosling.

 

Always have an exit plan

Both you and your date need one. Sorry to say it but they may want a get out clause too. A clever win-win is to set up a short, sweet meeting that you have to leave for something you “can’t really cancel”. This makes you look attractively busy, active and in-demand. (A good reason: catching up with old college friend you haven’t seen in ages. A bad reason: ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ is on). You can always plan another meeting soon if the chemistry’s right.

My fave dates I’ve ever arranged are a drink early evening when I’m meeting friends later, or a coffee date when I have a meeting later that day. Rude? There’s no shame in saying “would you like a drink on Thursday – I’m meeting friends at 8 but could meet you at 7.” And if it’s love at first sight then take them to see your mates too.

 

Jenny Stallard

(Image credit: AFP/Getty Images.)

 

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