Improve The Odds
What are the statistics on successful online matches? No one really knows since making a connection on the Web is such a private and personal matter. From articles in the media and success stories spread by word of mouth in chat rooms and forums, we know that many couples are getting together in the real world - some even making a lifelong commitment. But for each success story, there are at least a few online relationships that didn't make the transition to offline. These tips may help you stack the deck in your favor and improve the odds.
Keep It Local
Although the Internet allows us to meet people from all over the world, the best chance for making a successful online to offline transition is to start with someone in the same geographic area. The stories of couples who got together (and stayed together) despite thousands of miles between them may be romantic but they are few and far between. While some singles seem to seek out a long distance relationship, they might actually be seeking the comfort that the built-in obstacles provide. Online-only relationships can be great for those who are looking for fantasy but if you are seeking a real offline relationship, best to start with someone relatively nearby.
Make Communication A Two-Way Street
Just as in real life where opposites often attract, many online couples have a "talker" and a "listener". The listener asks questions, offers advice/support and will hang on every word from the talker. Sounds great in theory to have someone you can tell all your troubles to, share your successes with and who will be there for you whenever you have time to sit down at the computer. The problem is once these one-sided couples leave the online world and have that first date, the talker knows virtually nothing about the listener. It's better to give up a bit of the spotlight and get to know your chat partner now so you don't end up seated across the table from a complete stranger later.
Keep It Honest
How tempting it is to stretch or hide the truth from someone you only "see" online! Trading photographs is a good start but trading information is important too. Of course you shouldn't give out personal information to just anyone online - it isn't smart or safe to do so - but if you are involved enough with someone to consider meeting them away from the computer, it's important to be honest about yourself and your life situation. We've all heard the stories of couples who spent months online together only for one half to find out the other is older, younger, married or even a different gender than what they always claimed to be. So keep your own end of the conversation honest and pay close attention to what you're being told (and especially what you're not being told). When that little voice in your head tells you someone is too good to be true, they just might be. Don't let wishful thinking keep you from asking the important questions or trusting your instincts.
Step Out Of The Bubble
The level of intimacy new couples find online is all but impossible in the real world. Online there are no distractions, two people are completely devoted to the conversation, differences can be ignored or resolved easily and no outside forces vie for anyone's attention. But step out of that bubble and you really find out how compatible two people are (or aren't). When someone sits down to chat on the computer they have the time and inclination to talk. But away from the computer there are so many parts of life and activities to consider. Will you want to do the same things and give the same amount of time and energy to a relationship? Or will you discover that one wants a bit of quality time together amid a busy life full of obligations and activities while the other wants 24/7 togetherness? There is no universal time frame for how quickly a couple should step out of the bubble and test their compatibility in person but it is wise for every couple to realize there is no guarantee that the compatibility you feel online will be the same offline. Best to keep your expectations in check until you've spent real time together in the real world.
Keep It Safe
You can ask all the right questions, take all the right precautions and still end up meeting someone in person that you do not feel comfortable with. No matter how much magic you feel online, don't put yourself at risk by taking shortcuts when it comes to your personal safety. If you truly have found someone you will have a long happy relationship with, there's no harm in delaying being alone together until you are as sure as possible that you will be safe. Always meet for the first time in a public place and have your own transportation available to get to and from the date. Take every precaution you would when meeting a total stranger because, even though you may have chatted online for months, when it comes to physical safety this is a first date with a stranger.
There are many more good people than bad online but be sure you have one of the good ones before trusting them with your safety or your heart and you'll definitely improve the odds that your relationship will work.