Remember the days when we were warned not to talk to strangers online?
In the last half of 2016, I have met TONS of new online amigos. Starting my blog, being more involved in the local sex-positive / kink community and online dating have all lead me to make a plethora of wonderful friends and acquaintances. Many of which I have gone to meet in person after interacting online.
Despite our society being more accepting of making connections online, meeting friends off the internet can still be nerve-wracking. Not only are we worried about whether we’ll click with the person IRL but there’s also catfishing and creepy people out there. Despite these unfortunate occurrences, I have managed to have met a lot of my current favourite humans all due to the power of the Net.
And because I have had much successful (and unsuccessful) encounters with people online, I present to you my guide to safely meeting someone off of the internet!
1. Trust Your Gut
Now this might be self-explanatory, but trusting your instinct and following your heart is a serious aid in helping you be safe when meeting people online. If you feel bad vibes from someone, chances are your subconscious is picking up on something. Whether it’s a profile picture that seems too good to be true or a conversation that makes you feel vulnerable, you should listen to the little voice in your ear that is telling you something may be wrong (or even right!). In many cases, that voice might be saying that meeting this person is an excellent idea.
Looking up people on social media, pre-meeting them is seen as somewhat of a taboo by society, but fuck it. It’s your safety so you should do what you can to avoid negative experiences. If I’m feeling uneasy about someone, I usually do a quick reverse Facebook search. This consists of entering the person’s number into the FB search bar and seeing if their profile pops up. More often than not, people have their phone number connected to their account. (Tip: This also works if you get a “Heeyyyy” text at 2 am from an unknown number). If their profile pops up: get to creeping!
If not, try using WhatsApp to see if you can find an alternative picture of them. Add them as a contact if you haven’t already and then find them in the contacts section of the app. You can click on their profile picture to enlarge it. This technique may seem a little crazy, but I swear by it. My friend was recently trying to sell clothes on Craigslist and was getting weird messages from the “girl” she was selling too. I looked them up on WhatsApp and found out they were an older man, who by the looks of it could not fit into the clothes she was selling. FYI please don’t pretend to be people you’re not online!!
3. The Dreaded Phone Conversation
I love talking on the phone. I know, I’m weird. In this day and age, many people are so used to texting that many have a phobia of speaking to someone over the phone. I can understand this, as I do occasionally get nervous before I dial. If you can get over the phone anxiety, then it’s an excellent way to feel out the person you are meeting. Tone of voice, vocal mannerisms and how the conversation flows can give you insight into someone’s personality and aura. Talking on the phone before a meeting can help you decide whether or not you’ll go through with meeting them in person. If you’re still feeling uncomfortable, you can ask for a face-to-face Skype. This can put to bed any other concerns you might have.
Don’t have them. Chances are the person you meet won’t be your true love or your newest BFF, so it’s best to keep your expectations low. This way you can be happily surprised if the person turns out to be amazing.
5. Be Prepared
If you’re planning on hooking up, or if you think there’s the potential to sleep with the person you’re meeting bring a little safe sex kit. Pack condoms and/or dental dams, lube and if you’re feeling bold, your favourite sex-toy.
If you’re planning on consuming marijuana or alcohol, plan in your head how much you want to ingest and how often you will ingest it.
Do some self-care before meeting the person so you can feel your best. This can include grooming, masturbating, journalling or whatever it takes to make you feel great!
Have your phone charged and ready in case of an emergency.
Always plan to meet in a public spot (even if you’re meeting to hookup). I know it’s probably a lame first meeting suggestion, but I usually suggest picking to meet at a coffee shop. That way you can leave quickly if you feel it’s not going well, or can continue on to something else if you’re having a good time.
Speaking of leaving quickly, have an exit strategy. This could either be an excuse (if you’re polite) or a “Sorry this isn’t working out” if you prefer the blunt approach. I usually flip between the two depending on the situation. I always find it handy to have a personal mantra memorized, so even if I feel guilty about ditching out early, then I stay true to myself. After all, it is your time AND their time you’re wasting if you know you’re no longer interested.
Hopefully, through this little guide, you can have confidence meeting people online in real life! Online to real life transitions get a bad wrap, but with our society moving into the digital era you’ll one day have to meet someone you started getting to know over Twitter, FetLife or Tinder.
What are your strategies for turning an online connection into a real-time relationship?