Online Dating: Coffee or Correspondence

October 3, 2013
Category: Dating

With so many of our social interactions moving online these days, people seem to be of two minds about how best to proceed after the first encounter. Some like to take their time and get to know people via long messages first then progress to more tangible interactions like a phone call or meet up in real life. While others like to view a profile and set up a face to face meeting right away. There's no right or wrong way to do it, and that's the beauty of online dating: it's what you make of it.

There's something to be said for each path. On the one hand, there's a lot you can learn about a person through correspondence and I would argue that you can get a good sense of who someone is via writing. But then there's the hard truth about physical attraction and chemistry, which is only something an in person interaction can provide. It's possible a good rapport online can translate into the waking world, but it can also be a let down when you've built someone up in your mind and come to find it doesn't hold true after the first meeting. Which is why sometimes it's better to expedite things by messaging and setting up a date shortly after. You can learn fairly quickly if you're interested in someone over a quick, pressure-free coffee date

But we want to hear from all of you: do you prefer the long lead messaging or are you more of immediate offliner?

Tags: Online, Coffee, dating, Meeting
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Post written by RobHeartsDH (View Author Profile)
About this author: Rob lives in Manhattan with his black pug Riley. When he’s not thinking about daddies, he enjoys writing, eating burritos, watching copious amounts of television, and thinking about his next meal.
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I like something in between, like "you've got mail" story.

My preference is always to meet in person for a drink (non-alcoholic), a snack or a meal. In the almost 5 decades since I realized I was gay, an important lessons has been that gay men lie: about their appearance, their likes, their sexual practices, their education, their career, who their friends are and other things. It's all to cover up their fear that someone they just met won't like them, so they make up a person everyone would like. And you can't convince them that is not necessary for everyone to like them.

Unless someone is an out-and-out (no pun intended) sociopath, it's much harder for them to lie to you in person, when you are looking in their eyes and watching their body language, than when you are in a chat site or emailing back and forth.

When all is said and done, many of them will refuse to meet you in person, or they'll make a date and not show, because if you meet in person, you'll find out how many lies they have told you.

And this, by the way, doesn't include the ones with the suspicious profiles - like the guy who is 6'2" tall, weighs 245 and has a 31" waist. Or the one whose stats say he is in New York City and his profile talks about his life in Arizona. Or the soldier who says he is in Austin and doesn't mention that he is currently deployed to Afghanistan. Or the guy who says he lives in Baltimore and after the 3rd chat you discover that he's been living in Kenya for two years helping his mother with her business and now he wants to borrow $300.

No. If I can't meet a man in person pretty quickly after meeting online (2 or 3 days of chats or messages), he's online to boost his own ego by seeing how long he can string someone on, or he's assuming that because I'm old (63) I must be desperate.

Coffee is the deal. At best, you gain a friend, a lover or both. At worst, you lose 30 minutes of your time.

LOL. Great post. :)

Go easy on the soldiers. Every military man and woman has a legal "home of record." They may be in Afghanistan, but legally his or her home of record is in the United States somewhere, such as in Arizona.

You don't have a bit of time to spend communicating with a soldier stationed in a forlorn land who's deployed there in protection of our considerable freedom and way of life?

Thank you. I was aware of that. However, most profiles ask for "location," not "home of record." So when a guy is officially stationed at Fort Hood but has been in Afghanistan or Germany or England for a year and won't be back at his "home of record" for at least another six months, he really should show is current location. I live in Austin. I would drive an hour to Fort Hood to meet the right man. But when he admits after the or four exchanges that he's actually 10,000 miles away, all I can say is "please let me know when you get home."

How noble of you.

I just don't like the idea of exchanging messages with someone I believe is local and then finding out that he is 10,000 miles away in a place where he could be killed anytime. I appreciate his service and I appreciate his attitude. But for me, long-distance relationships have always been a disaster, so I protect my heart. I'm sorry if you have a problem with that, but that's my choice to make.

I agree 100%. One needs to protect their heart, especially when the likelihood is 99% you'll never meet.
I find that correspondence with someone who is not geographically desirable ALWAYS ends in one or the other losing interest. It's really hard to keep up interest for more than a few weeks, when one knows you won't meet for several months, or more. I find it's usually the other distance guy who originally approached me, that loses interest.
I guess with the online world now, it's truely "so many men, so little time" lol. And that makes it hard for a long distance relationship to last, especially with all the distractions and that you've never met in person.

If I ever get a mesg from a soldier stationed anywhere.I would gladly reply. These guys//women are putting their lives in harms way to defend us and our country. When they can find some free time to try to unwind from all of that...I'd be more that flattered to carry a conversation no matter who...least one can do

Truer words have not been spoken! I agree with you 100%. Meeting somone face to face, getting to know them in real-time conversation, seeing how they interact with other men around ... all of that reveals a great deal. Finding each other online is a wonderful way to meet; but face to face is the only way to connect.

Amen. You are singing to the choir.

Thanks. It looks like GoNAVY is not singing IN the choir!

I agree. Most of the time when I try to meet in person the guy backs out at the last minute. I often think they're living in a delusion and are afraid when it's challenged.

I prefer to take cover basic likes/dislikes in the profile to see if there is any hope of something more. That is how a profile is designed by the web designer. But, if the man has not completed the profile, I correspond a bit longer to get the missing pieces. If all is agreeable, than it is on to the coffee/beer/cocktail date. If the man can't be honest and forward in a anonymous playing field (the profile or filling in the blanks), I wish him success and move on.

I don't tend to correspond any longer than necessary because I have found that many men cannot express themselves in writing. All to many men believe that one to three word utterances sufficient to keep another man interested. I tire of writing something in a four or five sentence paragraph and receive a response of , "cool." Or, when I ask an open ended question, more often than not, I receive a written response of one word responses. I am a therapist that works with five to seven year old children. That is what they do. I don't want that in a man.

When face to face, one does not have to be an excellent writer or speller. You just has to be yourself and after all, that is what it is all about. I really don't care if the man received an A or an F in English, I just want to discover who he is in real life. Luckily one man can figure out what the other is trying or wants to say when the both are sitting next to each other in a casual, non-threatening environment.

So, I say, get out there and experience life. Risk the cost of a cup coffee or a cocktail/beer and look, see, be and experience the man who might be the one that lasts forever. I have said for years, "Stop looking for Mr. Right and start being Mr. Right."

(Not always polished, but always solid through and through.)

Just a thought. I'm a tech writer so I'm most comfortable communicating in writing (although I can carry on a good conversation as well), and I used to be irritated at the one word responses I got to my three paragraph messages. But I use my PC, and a lot of guys (most?) use their phones instead. And while they are a lot more proficient typing on the smaller keyboards than I am, I expect the norm for those platforms is a much more succinct message.

But yeah, if the conversation doesn't quickly progress to more than 'sup? I move on.

I'm with you. In fact, my profile generally indicates that if a message is not at least five words long, it will be ignored.

Your point is well taken, sifrid, but I think anyone who has a smart phone almost certainly has access to a computer with a real keyboard. Doesn't an initial period of "getting to know you" merit the ten minutes it might take to sign in on a computer and demonstrate that the message exchange is valued? Like you, I'm very comfortable with writing, and like you, I try to be sensitive about the challenges which written communication pose for some people. But I also believe that first impressions count, and if someone is considering a profile owner as a potentially significant person in his life, whether as a friend with benefits or something deeper, then the communication ought at least to be worthy of the small effort required to display a serious interest. Using the limitations of a smart phone as a reason for failing to put effort into communicating is like showing up for a job interview dressed in a tank top and cut offs, saying there wasn't enough time to change clothes. My reaction to both tends to be a "Sorry, no thanks."

Failing to fill out an uncomplicated profile template is a sign of things to come. Uninteresting, self-absorbed, vapid.

I guess since I'm old school..AND old...the best way to meet and get to know anyone is in person. Physical appearance does play a role in getting someones attention online. Many pics are either staged, 10 yrs old, photo-shopped or not even of the person you are chatting with. IF I see a profile of someone that catches my attention I will send a hello and greeting...if I get a full sentence reply and is available I will ask for a coffee meeting. 99% will say "no" or "kewl"...(what a waste of spelling)".. The bold ones do say yes...Those, I've found, can carry on a conversation and are for the most part pleasant. Some have gone into dates some have not, but unless we meet the "real" person, the one online for the most part, is a fabricated person of ones ego or lack of self esteem.

wuuzz mjntep lovelove,hangat hangat lovelove.i have cooffee

I couldn't have said it better myself.

wuuzz mjntep lovelove,hangat hangat lovelove.i have cooffee


After enjoying chat with an articulate man online the few times I have rushed in to the meet to find all the articulation ended.. I guess there are writers and talkers...

I suggest those of us that are seeking an online hookup not to dismiss someone not too wordy

I welcome a range of interactions. What I reject are the (to quote my own profile) "lazy butts who can't complete a profile description," closely followed by the "pics?" crowd. There is no greater indication of lack of literacy and thoughtfulness than posts and messages that convey a complete lack of substance.

Runner up: "let's have coffee" as the first meeting. Sorry, good buddy. I have plenty of time for a meal, but I have no time for an audition over a hot drink in a noisy coffee house.

Then there's the perfect fair-haired All-American guy type from LA or NY or even some flyspeck burg in Kentucky who posts just one perfect picture, and writes a profile expressing extreme longing in poor English. "I seeks a the big romance man with who I love forever and who hold me forever here in LA."

I think one thing: this man will soon offer me a scheme where I can earn $30 million with little effort.

Hello all,
I intended to write at length on this very interesting subject. But so many of you have articulated my thoughts so well. I would like to suggest that a good clue that if your respondent says "sorry, no webcam, or I have one or had one, but it's broken!" Then I write politely, I don't stay in contact or meet someone who hasn't one. If the face is hidden, then it's for a reason.

There is an option for privacy for a reason - because some choose to remain private for any of a number of good and sound reasons. If someone clamors for a picture or "webcam" immediately, I conclude that the guy is vapid, can't write, doesn't know enough to write, and isn't someone I'd find entertaining, interesting or smart.

That's a stupid comment. I really don't have a webcam but I will send a face photo. if you require every respondent to have a webcam you'll miss the one good one.

I wrote out a well-thought out paragraph of why I prefer to do it the way I do, as if to legitimize my style, or coerce you to my views, and then realized this is like politics and religion....none of us is going to convince the other to do it any other way than the way we do....and to doubt those who do it "the other way."

Thank goodness for individuality. Good luck to us all!

I prefer to meet in person as soon as I've screened for sanity by means of a few messages on-line. Not only are there far too many 'time-wasters' to do anything else; I don't find it accurate to suggest that one can usefully get to know a potential 'date' or boyfriend without meeting in 'meat space'.

I've had the experience of trying to get to know people on-line for weeks, even months, in the past, only to find that it is entirely a different experience to be with them in the flesh--and I don't mean anything naughty by that.

To be honest, I find myself getting less patient with the pre-in-person encounter--just a cup of tea in a public cafe, easily reached--all the time.

I once had the experience of developing what I thought was a great relationship online, so I flew from Texas to South Africa to meet the man in person! He was totally different, including the fact that in person he didn't believe in Safe Sex! You never know someone is telling the truth until you are looking in their eyes, in person, while listening to them speak. And even then, "ya pays yer quarter, ya takes yer chances!"

You make a very important point, muzyqman. Whether there should be a notable period of time devoted to e-mail and other "remote" forms of communication, or whether there should be a serious effort early in the game to meet in person is definitely a function of the distance involved. If getting together for an hour's worth of conversation and an appropriate libation involves no more effort than a little cross town drive, then endless e-mailing would appear to be a stalling tactic. But when expensive, time consuming travel is part of the equation, I would rather have a fairly good idea that the guy I'm dealing with is on the same page that I am. Typical of this type of discussion, no single answer is right in all cases.

No fan of drawn-out messaging here - if phone #s aren't exchanged within 10 minutes there's every chance it's going nowhere.

And forget coffee dates and the like: I fuck on the first date and expect the same. "Dates" are invariably interviews, and usually they're for a job I don't want. My LTRs all started out as one-night stands: you can't fake chemistry. Or hope that it's gonna happen down the line. Great sex with no expectations can be a great ice-breaker, and if you both fall in love then so be it!

There's only one way to find out whether a guy is truly emotionally and physically available, and that's by spending time with him. In and out of the sack - depending on what you want.

Just as people aren't always honest with others, they aren't always honest with themselves. We can't control the former, but we can get a grip on the latter!

When I meet a guy, there's an additional step: does he have the fantasy of the "Big Black man" who will fuck him silly. I don't have the luxury of my white brothers to just be a "person" to someone, so my questions have to extract the most information I can.
If someone is forthcoming, then it's easy. Even then, as others have stated, color isn't the only subject one has to discuss forehand. What's the guy looking for. Sometimes a guy SAYS he wants love, but when one talks enough, one knows that for some, it's the fantasy of the "Sleeping Beauty" Love they have in their mind, and has nothing to do with you as an individual. And frequently, their idea of love is not something they saw growing up: they created it - a bit like a Frankenstein monster, and that involves distortions of Love that don't pan out.
And I want to know if a guy is, as Brene Brown - Oprah's current Masterclass series guru says - is vulnerable. That's easier to find out in person when they're looking in to your eyes.
So, if a guy is 30 miles away and says, "You live so far away," i know that they want convenience, not Love. Or they want fun, and that is pretty easily established from the third email when they're telling you what they want to do to you.
Life has taught me there's nothing that brings reality to dating faster than face to face. Nothing. Of course, distance makes that harder, but then, Skype!

I was under the impression that online chat was nothing more than a quick way to get to know someone enough to want to meet in person. Nothing beats a face to face conversation, none of the "hiding behind the monitor" so much faster to form an opinion.

Chat has unfortunately become a means in and of itself. Why spend hours or weeks sending back and forth 21st century versions of telegrams, usually so cryptic or full of relative terminology that that one is left trying to navigate thru a mine field hoping that the reply is not offensive or misinterpreted. It can be so frustrating trying to communicate this way, a 5 minute conversation ends up taking hours at best.

I thought we had progressed beyond the days of pre-internet when answering a personal add really did take several weeks of back and forth It seems to have gotten worse, like being stuck in the snow, spinning your wheels, and going nowhere!

The only thing I have learned over time with meeting guys online is the more info I share about myself and what I am looking for the better the chance of a successful and fun encounter. I once considered online encounters in person unnerving, but found that, as with anything, confronting one's anxiety by following through and just being friendly lessens its power. As for the "meet for coffee first" thing, it is certainly a sensible idea; however, it can also be strained and a bit like some kind of weird audition. To each his own, but I can get to know someone just as easily in the duration of a mutually enjoyable sex encounter followed by some relaxing chat than by sitting across from each other and sniffing each other out for a little play or dating. We all have our definitions of what is a "natural" way to get to know a man. Interviewing me with a series of questions such as "What are your interests?" etc. feels artificial to me (especially since I believe having the same exact interests do not translate necessarily to compatibility). One man even asked me "What are the three most recent musicals you have attended?" (He must've gotten that question straight off some Internet dating guide!) I pondered a bit, and said, "I don't go to that many,actually, but the last one was Mama Mia". He blanched, practically choked on his coffee, and I knew if he asked my favorite movie I would have to say "'Pink Flamingos'; I ADORE the scene where Divine eats the dog doo-doo!" just to escape a hopeless mismatch.

Great topic. You have to remember that an unfortunately large percentage of the guys on line are hiding out, fantasizing to avoid meeting. If a guy is local and we can establish in two, maybe three mails that we have things in common and he can't meet, he will never meet. Move on., But then what do you do about the ones that say they will meet and then don't show up, nor do they write to apologize. I guess should feel lucky cause you found out the worst early on. But it is frustrating.

This is off topic. I had a female pug, she passed away at 13 years old 5 years ago, which was one of the great losses in my life. I'm now ready to get another. My question to you, is where did you get your pug from? im looking to get a black female pug.
Thank for any assistance you can give.