5 Tips Every Digital Dater Should Know Before Meeting Their Love IRL

While the virtual couples on "Catfish" have a camera crew to serve as a buffer, and an experienced Nev to turn to for guidance, the rest of us online love-seekers are forced to navigate the murky waters of internet dating alone. We pore over dozens of OkCupid profiles and Plenty of Fish in the hopes of finding a kind soul who might be worth an hour of face-to-face time. But once we find that person...then what? In order to save months (or even 10 years) of potentially wasted communication with a possible catfish, we recommend meeting sooner rather than later. Just heed this advice, first:

1. Meet in a safe, public setting. It's an obvious one, but you'd be shocked at how many folks (most of the insta-hookup variety) bypass this crucial step. Your virtual crush could easily not be who they say they are, leaving you with a chainsaw-wielding stalker or someone of a completely different gender. Believe us--you really don't want a serial killer (or liar) to have your home address. We also recommend bringing a friend, if just for the first half of the date.

2. Schedule a light, simple activity. A coffee date is perfect and offers the chance to get to know each other in a low-pressure setting. After that first double cappuccino, you can either extend the meetup over grub if it's going well or GTFO if your date is a complete creeper.

3. Do your research. No need to delve into decade-old LiveJournal posts or go gaga over every single Google search result, but knowing a little about the person you're meeting can go a long way. Even simply reading over their online profile and your old email exchanges can refresh your memory pre-date. It'll help the conversation flow more naturally.

4. Put your best self forward. You never know--you could be meeting The One. Wear something tasteful that makes you feel confident, and be punctual, polite and attentive. In other words? Don't be a d-bag.

5. Be honest about your feelings. If you don't feel any connection whatsoever to your digital date, don't fake it and string 'em along. If you merely see a friendship (a la Kim and Matt), say so. If you want them to delete your number entirely, so be it. Just be gentle, as it takes guts to put yourself out there in the first place.

+ Have you had any awful (or amazing) online first-date experiences? Share your own tips in the comments!

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