In this age of digital technology, I decided to take the leap and take a chance with online dating. The very first date I went on left me unsure that I wanted to pursue online dating altogether.
Meeting for the first time
I learned some hard lessons, but that story of disaster is for a different blog. After several local dates that led nowhere, I received a message from a man about 1,000 miles and several states away from me.
I read his profile and wasn’t sure that I even wanted to reply, as I knew I would never want to live in that state for more than a year or two…talk about putting the cart before the horse. However, I knew I wanted to find a partner and get married. I was nearly 45 and had no luck finding “the one”.
So, I decided to reply and see what happened. What did I have to lose, right?
Let’s dive into the tip you must know before meeting your long distance relationship partner for the first time.
1. Safety first, make sure it's are 100% real
Safety for me was a number one priority when meeting anyone online, let alone someone that I wouldn’t be seeing in person for who knows how long. As I mentioned before, I learned some hard lessons starting my online dating journey.
I replied only through the website to maintain my privacy for a couple of weeks. We sent several messages a day and got to know each other a little through that interaction.
The internet is a powerful tool to check to see if someone is real, but it can open doors to the wrong types of people as well. After a couple of weeks of chatting through the website, and me doing some serious searching on the web and social media outlets to see if the information I was learning each day aligned with what I found, we finally exchanged phone numbers. I never gave out my phone number right away, as it was tied to my side business, which meant that they could find me faster, i.e. my home address, email, website, etc.
For some, giving out their number is not a big deal, but for me, I needed that extra layer of security before handing over the digits. With catfishing stories popping up left and right, I wanted to be sure that the conversations we were having were genuine, as it is really hard to maintain a story that isn’t true.
With the men I had dated locally, I was going in blind, looking back at it. I didn’t scrutinize the conversations, which were very few, other than the dates and the text messages/emails had even less substantial content. After giving him my number, we texted for another week or so, before he got the nerve up to ask for a call.
From that point on, we chatted on FaceTime every night for at least one or two hours. The Debbie Doubter in me wondered if he could be the real thing? Was I missing something? We chatted on FaceTime every day for three months, only missing one day before we finally met in person.
2. Set boundaries and expectation before you meet
In a long-distance relationship, not only do you have to get to know someone, but also work out the logistics of where and when to finally meet.
In our case, it meant a plane ride. We decided he would fly out to see me. I felt more comfortable on my home turf from a safety and security aspect, and the fact that I had two large dogs made me feel better.
I found that our FaceTime chats helped with the anxiety of meeting in person for the first time. I felt confident that we had chemistry, as we would see each other every day and sometimes not always in the best of moods. I never saw the men I dated locally every single day.
It is also easy to blur the lines between expectations and reality in a long-distance relationship. If the main source of communication is text, email, or even phone, it is easy to build a version of your partner that reality will shatter. Video chats allow you to see the person as you would if you were on an in-person date. We always chatted at the end of the day, so there were plenty of days where I was looking pretty rough after a long day at work…no worries about false advertising there.
About three months in, we decided we both felt it was time to meet in person. We booked the flight and planned a weekend. In my case, I felt comfortable having him stay at my home. I had a guest room, and he knew that this trip wasn’t going to give him a ticket for an automatic romp in the hay because he was flying out to see me.
I also scoped out local hotels, should our meeting go awry and he needed to go to a hotel for the remainder of the trip. We both wanted to feel comfortable and we wanted our time together to flow and not be forced or so pre-planned that our time together felt unnatural.
3. Reassure friends and family
As a part of my planning for his impending visit, I let my friends, family, and a few coworkers know when he was arriving and a general idea of what I had planned.
Several checked in via text throughout the weekend to verify that everything was going well and that I felt safe. I picked him up at the airport, and it was a bit awkward as he was more nervous than I was.
After a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, we were driving out of the airport and settling into easy conversation, with the anxiety transitioning into excitement and happiness. I had forewarned him that my best friend of 18 years wanted to meet him, so we headed off to dinner at a Mexican restaurant where he met my BFF. He was nervous, and she gave her stamp of approval.
We chose our activities for the rest of the weekend from a list that I had made in case there were weather issues. We ended up taking a driving tour through the mountains and went to an interactive historical museum. At the end of that day, we stopped at my parent’s house. He was the one that decided he wanted to meet them.
Even though we were meeting in person for the first time, we had been dating for several months, and he felt that he was ready to meet my family. I’m not saying that this would be right for every couple at this point, but this was what happened on our journey.
4. Be Yourself
Be yourself…the good, the bad, and the ugly. If this is truly the person that you are looking to spend forever with, putting on an act when you are together will set your relationship up for failure.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Open and honest communication is a vital part of any relationship, and for long-distance relationships, it is essential. Communication is how you got to the point of meeting in person for the first time, so don’t forget to keep talking to each other once you meet.
Think about topics that you have had great conversations about in the past and bring them up if there is some initial awkwardness. Finding love isn’t always the easiest these days, and sometimes that perfect partner isn’t just on the next corner.
In my case, Mr. Right was several states away. We got married 14 months after I decided to take that chance and reply to a message that led to a long-distance relationship.