The Internet is a great place for meeting new people, especially when you're shy. Sometimes online friendships are superficial, but sometimes you bond over shared interests, become pretty close and start wanting to meet each other in person. Remember that there are certain risks involved in meeting strangers (and these people are strangers even though you've been chatting for ages). Here are some tips for meeting your online friends in real life.
Get to know them first. So, you've met them on Tumbr or wherever and you just clicked. You feel like they are your long-lost sibling or your soulmate. That's really great, but you shouldn't rush things. Get to know them better before you meet them IRL. It's important that you talk about something other than your shared interests.
Know what they look like. Exchange photos instead of saying things like “I'm a skinny blonde and I'll be wearing a plaid shirt, ripped jeans and blue sneakers”. If you actually know what your online friend looks like, you'll feel more comfortable.
Exchange phone numbers if you haven't done it yet. One of you might run late or need directions, and it is so much easier to contact via phone.
Meet in a public place. Meeting in a public place is the safest option. It can be a coffee shop, a restaurant in the mall, or a bar. We suggest that you keen your first meeting short. A lunch or a coffee date would be perfect. And think of an excuse to get out of the meeting early. We hope you won't need it, but you should have an escape route just in case.
Drive your own car. It is not safe to get in a stranger's car, even if you think you know them. So we suggest you politely refuse if they offer to pick you up. Don't offer to give them a ride, either.
Tell your friends where you will be. Let some of your IRL friends know where you are going and keep in touch with them during the meeting so they know you're okay. You can even bring a trusted friend along to be more comfortable. Just make sure they won't feel like a third wheel.
Have something planned. There is a possibility that both of you will be too nervous to make plans on the spot. You don't have to make a schedule, just think of some options like having lunch, watching a movie, going window shopping, etc. Choose an activity you both enjoy, it will help break the ice.
Be aware that they might be a little different in person. When you meet your online friends in real life, they might seem a little (or a lot) different, for example, more reserved, or, on the contrary, more outgoing. It is normal. Maybe you seem different to them, too. Don't let this confuse you.
Choose neutral topics for the first conversation. Keep your first conversation light and don't share too much personal information. Pay attention to the questions they ask. If they want to find out too much about you during the first meeting, it's definitely suspicious.
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