Hello. So I’ve started a dating profile on OkCupid. Finally met a nice woman on it. We were messaging on the website for a week, then we started texting. We have been texting for four days now. At what point should I call? How long after talking should I suggest we meet? Or should I just let things happen organically? Please help.—In Need of Online Direction
Anna Says: Dear INOOD, Opinions vary of course, especially among lesbians, but I’m of the mind that online dating is simply a conduit, much like a bar, or the caulking aisle at Home Depot, and that once initial contact has been made, you should get to know each other elsewhere as soon as possible.
Since OkCupid is pretty limited in terms of what you can actually learn about a person, I think people should meet pretty much immediately, and not solely because it saves everyone a lot of time. In the past, I wasted much time composing witty emails, inquiring about the habits of their pet Corgis, and glancing at the same five pictures repeatedly only to learn within 15 minutes of meeting them that it was never going to work out. Another time, this chick wanted to not only message for three weeks, but also G-chat screen me before she’d even consider meeting me for coffee. I told her that wasn’t my usual style but I’d give it a shot and she never wrote me back anyway. Another time, I messaged and texted this girl 20 times before she told me she was afraid to meet anyone in person. Afraid of what? That you’ll burn your mouth on the coffee? That you’ll waste 45 minutes learning inane details about a stranger and then move on with your life? She stopped texting shortly after that.
All of these interactions served to reinforce my belief that you can’t beat the real thing. There are thousands of little signals, mannerisms, quirks, and pheromones that can never come across in an electronic exchange, but which will be immediately obvious IRL. I want to know what your laugh sounds like and whether you touch your neck when you’re nervous and if your hands are cold like mine. I want to know if you talk more than listen, if your laugh is big or subdued, and to wonder if what I’m feeling is a spark or if it’s just the wine. You can’t glean any of that from an email. Unless you’re drinking while emailing, in which case it’s the wine.
You’ve been communicating with your lady for about two weeks now. I’d say it’s time to bite the bullet and meet. You mention letting it happen organically but I’m not even sure what that would look like. Do you want to somehow magically show up at the same time and place without first planning it? You “met” on a dating site. The presumption is that you want to go on a date. In order to go on a date, someone’s gotta ask. So ask! It can be text or phone; that doesn’t matter so much.
So hop to it. Don’t think too much. Pick a location (I like going for walks because it’s free and it’s not stagnant like sitting still for coffee. Besides you can always go somewhere else if the date’s going well), take a shower, put on an outfit that makes you feel confident, and go do something scary for an hour. Find out if your texting rapport translates in the flesh. I appear to be betting a lot in this week’s column, but I think you’ve got this. You just need one little push, so consider this a shove of love from me to you.
Best of luck!
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.