Online Dating: 6 Ways to Avoid Awkwardness

Online Dating: 6 Ways to Avoid Awkwardness

You've probably been there. Online, you meet someone who seems special. However, the online date turns out to be a dud. Or maybe your date would have had potential if only the whole situation did not feel so... awkward

Online dating is now as much a part of life as texting and Facebook. In fact, a recent study shows that a full third of American couples who got married in the past decade met online. That means that if you want to find your match, you have to figure out how to get past the awkward stage.

Here are six tips to help you get started.

1. Practice "three and meet"

When you jump into the online dating world, learn the expression "three and meet." This was originally coined by The Awl, and it works as follows: three rounds of messaging and then you have to set up the date.

Why is "three and meet" important? Because it prevents you from getting your hopes up based on weeks of text-only correspondence. The longer you have to form a mental picture of your potential date, the more awkward it will be if your date doesn't match up. 

2. Always do a phone conversation first

There's one more thing you need to do before you set that date: talk to your potential date on the phone. This is a quick way to filter out people who are rude, who interrupt, who 'mansplain,' or who just don't trip your chemistry triggers. That way, you save yourself the trouble of a truly awkward dating experience.

3. Make dates about activities

Don't force yourself to sit through another awkward conversation about where you grew up and how many brothers and sisters you have. Make the date about an activity so you and your date have something to talk about beyond the typical, awkward first-date conversation.

Physical activities are especially good for reducing awkwardness. It's hard to shout "have you lived here long?" when you're skating around an ice rink or trying rock climbing.

4. In fact, skip the date and go straight to the activity

The new app HeyInviteMe is partially a dating site, but it's also a way to practice that classic piece of dating advice: Don't try to date, just do things you like and see who else likes them too. Post an activity you want to do, whether it's running a 5K or going on a wine tasting, and see who else wants to do that activity with you.

Then, run that 5K together and see if you enjoy each other's company. It's not precisely a date, but it's a way to find potential dating material - or to at least make new friends who might be able to set you up with the perfect partner!

5. Embrace the double date

If you've got a few friends who are game, ask them to double date with you the next time you have that first online date. The presence of a second couple will make the evening feel less like a job interview and more like a conversation. Your friends can also help you decide whether to set up a second date - this time, on your own!

6. Don't begin with the end in mind

Yes, a lot of us secretly hope that every online date will be the one that leads us down the path to relationship bliss. The truth is that you won't know that after the first date. You will know if your date can hold up a conversation, whether your date is pushy or rude in public, and how your date treats strangers. 

What you won't know is whether your date will be a good partner - that takes at least a year of dating. So, don't treat a date as an audition for "My Future Spouse"! Simply see if you can have a good time together. After all, isn't that what romance is really all about?

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