Long distance relationships, particularly in the modern era, are always a risk. As online relationships become increasingly common, it can be difficult to tell who your partner really is. The extremes of this are demonstrated by catfishing – pretending to be someone you are not, sometimes even a different gender. But, fortunately, many of us will never experience anything like this, and trust our long distance partners implicitly.
However, there are still a number of things you should take into consideration before meeting your online partner for the first time. Although it is highly unlikely that they will not be who they say they are, it is still important to bear your own personal safety in mind. It can be difficult to judge a person’s personality online, and it can be easy to hide less favourable characteristics while talking online. So, make sure to follow this advice to make your first face-to-face meeting as smoothly and as stress free as possible.
First, you should decide where to meet. Ideally it should be a place public, and if your partner is travelling by public transport, then the station or airport you pick them up from is a good start. However, immediately leaving and heading to a private location is never recommended.
Sometimes a public location, and having others around you helps subside the awkward nervous moments that you’ll experience in the beginning, as you can build conversations about what’s going on nearby. Being in public will help keep you safe even in the unlikely scenario that the feelings you developed online are not present when you finally meet in person.
As well as meeting in public, another important step to take before you meet is to let someone know that you are meeting. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that at least one person knows where you are, and what you are doing if the worst were to happen. It can also be helpful to tell this person your plans for your date, including where you will be going, and establishing times to check back in. You could, for example, suggest that you will make contact (even just a simple text) every few hours, or when the date is over.
If you do let someone know where you are, ensure you let them know if your plans change during the date. Perhaps you are really enjoying yourself, and decide to stay longer. In these circumstances, be sure to let your contact know, so they are not worried about what has happened to you. This is only really applicable for your first date, and is only to ensure that you are safe throughout your date.
Bring a friend
Bringing a friend can help you break the ice between you and your partner. As they will not be experiencing the same rollercoaster of emotions as you, they will be able to assist you in creating conversation (especially if one of you are very nervous and don’t talk much at first)! If you are driving, you may want to let them drive so that you are able to focus on your partner and not split your attention between them and the road. Finally, having a friend with you can help you determine whether or not your partner is a good fit for you, and should you decide they’re not, you and your friend can leave together.
Have a back-up plan
Sometimes, unfortunately, your first meeting may not go as planned. You may not experience the chemistry, or spark, between you both that you had hoped for. Maybe, your long distance partner is not quite how you expected them to be. This can be a difficult situation, especially if one of you has travelled a significant distance. It is in cases such as these that you need to make sure you have a backup plan.
First and foremost, you need to be upfront about how you feel. If you do not feel the romance, or spark blossom, then be honest and let your long distance partner know. It may be difficult to do, but it is the right thing and they will appreciate it. Next, if you are in a town you are unfamiliar with, you need to know where you will stay if not with your partner, and how to get home if you do not stay for the duration of your trip. Knowing this information will ensure that you do not become lost or overwhelmed as you cut your trip short.
The most important piece of advice we can give you for your first meeting is to trust your instincts. There may come a point when you feel as though your partner is moving too fast. Perhaps they are inviting you to stay the night, or wanting to become more physical. However, the speed at which you move once you have met your partner is as much your choice as it is theirs. Be sure to stay within your comfort zone, and explain that to your partner. If they value you as much as they say, then they will respect your personal boundaries.
Try to set out your comfort zone and boundaries as early as possible, so your partner knows what you feel comfortable with. Perhaps you only want to see each other for a few hours a day on your trip, or perhaps you want to spend every possible moment together. Just remember that you should not feel pressured into making a decision, and you should both be comfortable with the trip.
These are our top five tips for your first face-to-face meeting with your long distance partner. It may seem cynical, or even defeatist to consider these before you have even met your partner. But try to remember that these are not plans, these are for the worst case scenarios, in case your trip is not what you expect, or the worst may happen. It is not a matter of trusting your partner, but a matter of personal safety, and ensuring that you are comfortable throughout the trip.
Hopefully you will never have to make use of the back-up options you have laid out, or any of the safety precautions, but it is important that they are there, just in case they are needed. And, remember, these will only be necessary in the smallest minority of meetings, as most will blossom into a beautiful long distance relationship filled with cross country visits and eventual plans to close the gap!