Back in elementary school and middle school, I sat through a couple of very intense presentations about stranger danger. I was told to never get into a car with an adult I don't know, never give my address to strangers, and most importantly, never meet up with people I meet online. Fast forward to 2017, and you can regularly find me hopping into Ubers, typing my address into Seamless, and — yep — agreeing to meet up with guys at bars after exchanging just a handful of Tinder messages. It makes me wonder: How many messages should you send your Tinder matches?
I think people tend to be divided into two schools of thought. Some people prefer to take their sweet time getting to know their matches over flirtatious banter. You want to see if you agree on ideal pizza toppings and root for the same sports teams. Only time will tell if your match turns out to be the kind of person who writes "ha" or "lol ya" to every single message you send. And these are crucial details, people! Plus, you're busy, and if you actually met up with every person who asked you out, you wouldn't have time to do the important things in life, like volunteer work, spending time with friends and family, and also scrolling through your phone for 47 hours while Real Housewives plays in the background.
But on the other hand, some people would rather meet up right away. It's like, what if Noah spent 365 days mailing handwritten letters to Allie, only to ultimately realize when they reunited that their chemistry had kinda fizzled? That would have majorly sucked. Noah could've just hit her up sooner, avoided the hand cramps, and grown old with a different Southern belle who wasn't already involved with a war hero. Win, win.
Some people take this philosophy to the extreme by sending a super bold opening line: "What are you up to tonight?" I get it — if you're enticed by someone's profile enough to swipe right, why not just meet and see if you click? This strategy is perfect if you're feeling adventurous or spontaneous.
I tend to waffle back and forth between the two strategies, so I asked someone a little bit more decisive for help. I turned to Michal Naisteter, a matchmaker from Three Day Rule, for the low-down on how long you should ideally talk to your match before meeting up in person.
Keep Your Interactions Short and Sweet
"My overall rule for texting is that you should keep it short and sweet so you don't end up walking into the date with pre-conceived notions about who you're meeting," Naisteter says.
The longer you text, the more likely you are to build up visions in your head of the person you're going to meet. And if the living, breathing, real human being you wind up meeting differs from those visions, you might be disappointed. It's totally natural — but it's also avoidable.
"The idea is always to take it offline sooner rather than later," Naisteter says. "It's the only way to find out if you click in person!"
Here's the tough truth about chemistry: You can't predict it. All those texts you're exchanging before a date? I mean, I guess it's nice to know if you share taste in Netflix binges or how many siblings someone has, but in the long run, those details won't make or break your chances of having a good time together. Chemistry does.
Or Cut The Messages And Skip Straight To The Phone Call
"We Millennials love texting and hate picking up the phone," Naisteter says. "But if you want to stand out, making a phone call is a great way to connect to someone. This is how you separate yourself from the competition."
You can learn so much more about someone over the phone than you can through texts. There's something intimate about hearing a person's voice in your ear, and their sense of humor gets a chance to flourish instead of falling flat when their joke doesn't really translate to text.
And just saying, I've immediately said yes to two guys who asked me out over the phone, just because their calls were so unexpected. In one case, we hit it off and wound up seeing each other again. In the other, I quickly realized I wasn't into the guy. But honestly, I'm glad I figured that out before we spent tons of time texting back and forth.
Those stranger danger presentations weren't wrong. If you get sketchy vibes from someone, you don't need to say yes to a date — or talk to them at all. If you want to stalk your match on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn before meeting up, go for it. Dating should feel comfortable, not dangerous.
"Do what makes you feel safe, but don't over-stalk," Naisteter warns. "Too much information can be disadvantageous."
In other words, it's smart to know where a guy works and to verify that you're not getting catfished, but you don't necessarily need to know that his 11th grade lacrosse team beat Southfield High. That doesn't actually help you learn anything about your match.
I'll leave you with wise parting words from Naisteter: "The general rule for texting is that less is better," she says. "Schedule a time to talk, and then if you're still interested, book the date!"
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