From Swiping to Meeting | Transitioning from Online to Real-Life Dating

Online dating to in person dating

OMG, it’s happening: You and your match from a dating app are really hitting it off. In fact, you’re getting on like a house on fire. The DMs are great; you’re never at a loss for what to say, and it feels promising.

Is it time for the next step? It feels like it is, but you’re nervous about meeting up IRL! What if there isn’t any chemistry when you meet face-to-face? Where should your first date be? There are so many questions!

Take a deep, cleansing breath, and we will get through this together. So many have gone before you and come out on the other side when it comes to swiping to meetings! Transitioning from online to real-life dating can be a cakewalk when you know what you’re up against.

That’s why we made you a handy lil guide on making this nerve-wracking transition easily and confidently. Get your best date night outfit dry-cleaned, and let’s get you ready to do this!

From Online to In-Person: Making the First Date Happen

It’s so exciting when you think you’ve met a potential romantic partner, and although the conversation is flowing, it can be hard to muster up the courage to suggest that you take the next step and meet up IRL. Or maybe they’ve already asked to meet up, and you’re nervous that expectations won’t match up with reality.

It’s a gamble for sure, but one worth taking in the game of love! Nothing risked, nothing gained, so up the ante and bet on a good outcome.

Armed with the following tips and guidelines, you’ll be able to take your online connection into the real world with no problem.

take things offline

Take Things Offline Quickly

Never-ending dating app chats that don’t lead to a real-life date are frustrating, so lay your cards on the table early on if you feel a connection. If they agree, great! And if not, you won’t waste any more of your precious time messaging with someone who has no intention of seeing you in person.

manage expectations

Manage Expectations

As we said earlier, online interactions can create an idealized image of a person, which might not line up with reality. Keep your expectations in check to avoid disappointment—they may not look exactly like their profile pic or be shyer in person than they were in the DMs.

choose public location

Choose a Familiar and Public Location

For your first date, pick a spot where you feel comfortable. Familiar surroundings can make you feel more at ease! And you should always meet up in a public place for obvious safety reasons.

safety first

Safety First

Speaking of safety, always tell someone where you are and who you are with. We don’t care if it’s your mom or your BFF; just tell a person you trust about your date plans and check in with them throughout the date. Safety should always be your highest priority when meeting a stranger from a dating app—it doesn’t matter how many messages you’ve exchanged, they are still a random stranger!

coffee date

Coffee or Activity-Based Dates

When picking a place for the date, coffee is always a safe choice—it’s casual, and you can bail if it’s not going well after a quick cappuccino. Or, you can do something chill, like go bowling, if you are both into it! This alleviates the pressure of a formal dinner date and offers a much more relaxed vibe to get to know one another.

arrive on time

Arrive On Time and Be Present

Punctuality shows respect for the other person’s time, so don’t roll up 20 minutes late! During the actual date, be a good listener and participate in the convo to show you are interested (if you are). This shouldn’t be a problem if you are getting along.

handling the bill

Handling the Bill

Cultural norms around who pays for what can vary, but the best way is to split the bill—go Dutch—or take turns buying rounds if you are getting adult beverages. This approach is fair, and it gets rid of any awkwardness. Don’t show up with no money in your wallet!

exit strategy

Exit Strategy

If you feel the date isn’t going well, it’s okay to leave—in fact, we encourage it. If you can, be polite but honest about why you are bailing, but that’s really hard to do to someone’s face. You can always say you aren’t feeling well! And if it feels weird or they make you uncomfortable in any way, you don’t need to do anything but get up and go. Always trust your gut.

have fun

Keep an Open Mind and Have Fun

Approach each date as an opportunity to meet someone new and have fun without getting hung up on overly high or low expectations. Try just to enjoy the moment.

avoid talking about exes

Avoid Discussing Past Relationships

Look, this has to be said, even though it’s a no-brainer, but on a first date, don’t talk about your ex. Just don’t.

go with the flow

Go with the Flow

Don’t set strict rules about physical affection on the first date; be chill. Trust your instincts and respond to the chemistry between you and your date.


Don’t ever forget that dating is a numbers game–the more you engage, the higher your chances of finding a compatible potential romantic partner! Think of each date as a step toward finding love, and with patience, a positive attitude, and an open mind, the transition from online to real-life dating can lead you to someone really special!

Molly Davis
Molly Davis

Molly is an East Coast writer who lives on West Coast time. She’s been in the journalism field for over 20 years — newspapers are her first love but she’s finding digital media to be just as fun and challenging as print! When she’s not giving therapist-quality dating advice, she’s curled up watching movies, reading, or volunteering at local dog shelters.