A few weeks ago, I began Tinder-chatting with someone I was certain I would one day marry. For three days, we texted nonstop, sharing everything from our childhood dreams to our favorite artists. When they finally asked me out, I was on cloud nine. That was, of course, until I found myself sitting across from them at an overpriced bar that I would have never chosen, staring in complete silence. No matter how long you've been crushing on a cutie, if your chemistry is better over text than IRL, I don't just hear you — I'm literally here with you.
"It’s really surprising how people can seemingly click so well on text, yet have zero spark in person," Breakup BOOST podcast host Trina Leckie tells Elite Daily. "This is why it’s so important to meet soon after connecting online vs. spending time texting for days or weeks on end."
While meeting up with someone ASAP is ideal, if your crush lives far away or your schedules don't match up, texting may be the only way to keep in contact. Still, whenever do you meet up, if the conversation feels a little different, it's natural to wonder what the heck you're supposed to do.
"Anytime a relationship transitions to a new format, there will likely be some growing pains as it evolves," Pricilla Martinez, CEO of Regroop Online Life Coaching, tells Elite Daily. "The same can be said about meeting someone online or getting to know them with the buffer of a device and actually interacting with them face-to-face."
According to Martinez, if your conversation felt easier or more interesting over the phone, it's important to take a minute to recenter. "If the chemistry isn’t there during the date, it may be because something isn’t aligned to who you are via text," Martinez says. "One or both of you may not be exactly who you are via text, and that can be disappointing."
Perhaps you like to talk about music when you're literally looking at your Spotify, but you totally clam up when you're asked about your favorite bands on the spot. Or maybe you thought your date had a similar sense of humor, but you realize they just texted "LOL," but didn't know what you were talking about. While I think being yourself is super important, I'd be a big pants-on-fire liar if I said I've never used texting to appear a little more knowledgeable about something my date is clearly interested in. Cue me speed-Googling an obscure French movie and pretending to also be obsessed with it.
Though texting can be a great way to connect, Martinez shares that relying on your phone can inevitably give you and your date the space to express a more polished version of your thoughts. "Text can lower your inhibitions because the space between you makes it feel less real than being on a date," Martinez says. "You can be more or less of whatever you want, and you can focus on enticing someone else without being too self-conscious about it."
For Damona Hoffman, dating coach and host of The Dates & Mates Podcast, texting a lot before meeting up can give you a sense of confidence that you may not actually feel IRL. "In-person, most people are far more self-conscious and risk-averse," Hoffman tells Elite Daily. "Over text, people have time to pick the perfect word and the confidence to say anything from a screen without fear of judgment."
As Hoffman shares, if your texts were Cheeto-level Flamin' Hot but, your in-person convos are more like soggy oatmeal, you both may be a little nervous to talk face-to-face. If you're not sure what to say or don't know what your date is thinking, Hoffman suggests taking a deep breath and trying not to rush anything. "Even if you don't have the same banter on a first date as you did over text, give it another date or two to see if the chemistry unfolds as you become more comfortable with one another," Hoffman says. "We are far too focused on finding chemistry on a first date. Instead, we should be looking for curiosity."
If you and your crush got along super well while texting, but talking in person is a literal #struggle, Martinez suggesting trying to talk to them about talking to them. "Keep an open mind and talk it out," Martinez says. "Use that conversation to learn as much as you can about them and how they handle conflict." While it may feel intimidating to point out the elephant in the room, addressing that you're feeling weird may make your date feel totally relieved that they're not the only one feeling off. Whether you make a, "Well, this is awkward" joke or note that you thought your IRL conversation was going to be different, directly stating what you're feeling may help you both get on the same page.
Additionally, if you're just not feeling the date or you have minimal interest in trying to get your IRL chemistry back on track, Leckie shares that it's always OK to (politely) move on. "There is no point in trying to force something," Leckie says. "Accept that you are not a good match. Don’t regret the time you took to meet up; be proud of the fact you put yourself out there."
Though texting a cutie can be super fun, realizing that you don't have the same chemistry IRL can be totally disorienting. No matter how long you've been crushing on someone, if the conversation doesn't flow in person, try taking a deep breath and re-centering. While you may have hit it off instantly over the phone, sometimes you need to go on a couple of dates to really feel comfortable with each other. Of course, if the vibe is just not there (and trust me, sometimes the vibe is just not there), it's always OK to thank you date for their time and see them out the door. When it comes to any aspect of your life, you get to call the shots.