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Erika Ettin: Why I believe texting is the death of a first date (Morbid? Maybe. True? Definitely.)

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

It seems like a natural progression: After matching with someone on a dating app like Bumble or Hinge, you exchange a few messages and the conversation is flowing well. So you exchange numbers … and most of the time, this is actually a death sentence for the first date (sorry to be morbid, but there’s nothing wrong with a little dramatic flair, right?).

This recently came to my attention again when someone asked me for advice via Instagram: “Why did the conversation die when we exchanged phone numbers?” And there are a few reasons.

Unfortunately, dating apps are just a game for some people. Just like matching with someone gives them an ego boost, so does getting their number.

Once you’re off the app and texting, there is no sense of urgency to meet.

A text conversation with someone you don’t know can only go so far, so when the discussion becomes boring, someone will inevitably cut it off.

You can’t reference information from each other’s profiles anymore, which makes it difficult to ask interesting questions.

More often than not, humor and other meanings can be misinterpreted over text when you don’t know a person well.

 

So what should you do instead? My advice is to set up the first date while you’re still talking on the dating app or website. To make that transition, try responding to a question they ask by saying, “That’s actually a great story, but better told in person. Maybe I can share it over drinks sometime.”

Believe it or not, you don’t have to know everything about each other’s childhoods and families and jobs before getting together face-to-face. (In fact, that’s too much for a first date, too!) You’re looking for a life partner, not a pen pal, so it’s always good to move to an in-person meeting sooner rather than later. As an extra bonus, you will weed out the people who are only on apps to talk endlessly with no real intention of meeting.

Inevitably, someone will ask to exchange numbers at some point. At that point, you can reply, “I’m not a huge texter, but I’d love to meet!” or “I don’t love texting too much before I’ve met someone … speaking of, I would be open to meeting this week if you are!” That way, you’re not rejecting the person’s offer to exchange numbers; you’re actually moving the relationship forward.

All this said, the best time to exchange numbers is still before the first date, one day before being the best option. Once you’ve decided on a date, time and location to meet, feel free to send your number along in case they need to reach you (maybe they’re running late because they can’t find parking or got a flat tire). The day before the date, say something like, “Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow (and trying out this bar, I’ve heard great things)! In case you need me, my number is 555-555-5555. What’s yours?”

Texting can be great once you get to know someone, but when it comes to meeting a potential match, you don’t want your flowing conversation to hit a stalemate before you’ve had the chance to see if there’s a connection. Turning a number exchange into a date plan is a confident way to move the relationship forward and avoid the invitation for meaningless chitchat that never progresses in a meaningful way.

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