Advice

How To Take Your Online Relationship Offline

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9781940610009-frontcover copy

9781940610009-frontcoverThe first time my fiancé Brian ever contacted me was through a direct message on Twitter. Romantic, I know. I forget what it said, but I’ll always remember how it made me feel. I was excited, sure, but DMs make me real nervous. Especially if you’re tweeting from your phone where DMs come in like texts and you’re busy click-clackin’ away. You go to respond like it’s a text and boom; you’re the next Anthony Weiner. The idea that you can misfire so quickly should be good enough reason to take an online relationship offline.

But it’s not just Twitter. Maybe there’s someone you follow on Instagram that you’d like to get to know beyond their photos of sunsets and homemade meals. Maybe you’d like to be in that sunset picture or tasting that meal. Not that you’d ever want to date someone who posts such cliché pictures. Here are my dos and don’ts of how to take an online relationship offline.

DO

Follow someone back on a platform after they’ve initiated a conversation with you and you’ve had the chance to check out their profile.

DON’T

Say anything creepy once you’re in a private conversation. Act normal. Resist the urge to tell them how hot their profile pic is, or anything similar.

DO

Take it offline if you have any interest in the person. Then you can feel them out, get to know them a bit, see if there’s anything between you when you’re talking in longer than 140 character increments. Or in the case of Instagram and other social media where I mainly communicate via emoji, it’s nice to be able talk in actual sentences using real English words. Anyone can seem cute or funny in teeny tidbits, but it takes a bit more personality (and spark) to have an engaging back and forth face-to-face.

DON’T

Lead someone on if you know there’s no shot. You’ve seen enough of what they look like, how they act, and what they’re interested in to know if there’s zero chance. Keep interactions with the “sorry-you’re-not-my-type” person online only so you can control the interactions. Do not invite them into your inbox or your neighborhood bar.

DO

Give someone your email address so you can see what else they have to say. Brian and I moved from DM to email pretty quickly, and that’s where we really got to know one another. Before dates, between dates, even now – it’s one of our main modes of communication when we can’t talk on the phone (or text, or tweet, or Instagram).

DON’T

Give someone your phone number to text too quickly. Email is safe and has certain boundaries and expectations that text messages do not. You can hurt someone’s feelings or hurt your own chances by not responding to a text fast enough, but over email those rules are a bit more lenient.

DO

Use what a person puts online to your advantage in what to do (and not to do!) offline. If someone posted party photos of wine glasses before, suggest a wine bar for your first date. If someone talks about hating how cold it is, then a hike through Central Park in December might not be the best idea. Be smart.

DON’T

Don’t be creepy. Yep, this one’s so important I’m repeating it. Pay attention to what they’ve said, posted, photographed… but don’t read too much into any one thing. And don’t bring up specific details of your research when you meet them in person. There’s a reason familiarity breeds contempt, especially on a first date.

Shupak photo

Jamie Shupak is the morning traffic anchor on NY1, Time Warner Cable’s popular 24/7 news channel in New York City. Shupak, a news Emmy nominee, can be seen every weekday morning from 5 a.m. until Noon. She currently resides in Manhattan with her fiancé, senior media correspondent for CNN and host of Reliable Sources Brian Stelter. Her debut novel, TRANSIT GIRL, is available now from Polis Books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore and wherever ebooks are sold.

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