How Long To Message Before A First Date

Timing in the dating process has always been a topic for debate. How soon is too soon to move in together? What length of time is reasonable to expect to be exclusive? How long should you wait to have sex? But before you get to that stage- when you’re messaging someone on a dating site or app, how long should you wait before meeting in person?

how long to message before a first date

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big texter. There have been a few people I’ve fallen into the habit of texting a lot for various reasons, but most of my texting is purely functional- “what time are we meeting?” and so on. I’m also not a big fan of small talk. So messaging back and forth on a dating app to ask how your day went for me is the WORST. “Why can’t someone invent an app where you can JUST MEET?!”, I always wondered. I suppose I’d view the first date as a bit like a “screen”, and view any messaging beforehand as a means to an end. My aim was to go on as many dates as possible, in the hope of eventually meeting The One.

And I ended up going on a lot of dates. Not as many as some people seem to manage, or as many as you’d think given that I blog about dating, but still a fair few. But I kept meeting duds. Not necessarily bad people, or even unattractive. We just didn’t click, or they just weren’t my type. And it was exhausting. I started to feel like perhaps there was no-one out there for me. I felt sad. But at the same time, compelled to go on more dates because I so badly wanted to meet someone. But I’d resent the time and money I was spending without much to show for it. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, but guys insisted on drinks as a first date and I’d just find it so boring. I got bitter and frustrated.

When I got talking to other people in the dating community online, I found that though they may have their own frustrations with dating, they seemed to at least be meeting people they actually liked. A few recommended talking to people for longer before meeting, in order to go on better dates. “This is crazy!”, I thought to myself. “Messaging is boring, and you don’t really know someone until you meet them, so surely it’s better to get the first date in quick?” But then, those people seemed to be going on fewer dates yet meeting people they actually liked, so perhaps there was something in it. So for a little social experiment, I thought I’d test the waters with various approaches.

I got chatting to one guy on Tinder. He was quick to suggest a date and I accepted. We met for drinks, and though the conversation wasn’t bad, it was clear there was no attraction or even much of a personality click. We never spoke again. Perhaps there was something to this messaging malarkey after all?

I added something political to my bio, and one guy responded to my standard opener saying he had similar views, and suggested chatting on the phone. A phone call? This had never happened before. But when I picked up the phone, I immediately liked the sound of his voice and we ended up talking for 3 hours straight. We ended up chatting another couple of times, before eventually arranging to meet. I’d been programmed to view dating as a chore, but when I was meeting this guy I was excited as I knew that even if we didn’t fancy each other, we’d at least get on. We ended up meeting another few times after that, but then he turned out to be a bit of an idiot. Ah well.

From that point, I tried to gauge how well we would get on from how well the messages flowed. I had a couple of people be forthcoming with meeting up but I didn’t really feel a click over messages. But I decided to give it a go for a social experiment, and lo and behold, I found the lack of chemistry translated into real life. Really frustratingly though, anyone I was fairly keen to meet ended up fading out, so I haven’t yet completed the second half of the experiment, where I’d discover whether a click over messages translates to real life. Perhaps this was why I met so many duds- I’d just meet the first person who asked out of frustration?

In conclusion though, I think it can be worth spending some time talking before arranging a date- and a phone call can be particularly helpful as you get to hear their voice. If you don’t click via chatting and the idea of meeting for a date feels like a chore, in my experience it’s not worth going. At the same time though, I don’t think it’s worth talking for too long, as you don’t really know someone until you meet in person. Let’s face it, I’m sure we’ve all been catfished before. In my experience, I have also found out that the people who want to talk for aaaages tend to be not that into me. In the same ways that guys who were a bit slow in arranging a second date turned out to be not that interested and instead keeping you on the “bench”, the guys who’d Whatsapp for ages before finally agreeing to meet ended up falling into the same category (that’s if we even ended up meeting and they weren’t just looking for a pen pal). For example, with the aforementioned politics guy, we ended up speaking on the phone three times and I ended up having to suggest a date to meet. If you’ve had one good phone call or you’ve messaged for a while and it’s obvious there is a personality click, they should be ready to meet. Some form of balance is necessary.

Having said that though, sometimes a spontaneous date isn’t such a bad thing. The best date I went on last year was when I got chatting to a guy on Tinder who was visiting London for a business trip. He was about to go for dinner and asked if I wanted to join him, I thought “why not?”, and ended up having a really good date (and he paid on his company card!). And if you’re new to dating and aren’t quite sure what your type is, it could be a good idea to get out there and start figuring it out. But in my opinion, scattergun dating isn’t sustainable in the long-run. It can be a good idea to take your time, get to know people a bit more, and be more picky with who you invest your time in.

Do you prefer to talk for a while or get the first date in quick? Let me know in the comments!

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