In the age of Tinder, it’s normal to meet someone for a first date having chatted for days but never met in person.
However this can lead to one main problem that you don’t encounter if you meet through friends, in a bar or some other elusive IRL way: what if you don’t fancy them?
Sure, you may have thought they looked cute in their pictures, but it’s all too common for those pictures to be old or so zoomed out that you can’t really tell what they look like.
Or sometimes it’s not their appearance that’s turning you off – sometimes the spark just isn’t there.
So what do you do?
According to relationship expert Erika Ettin, it’s crucial to remember the other person is a human being with feelings.
“Some people treat people they meet online as lesser, but they’re still people, and it’s important to remember that,” she told Business Insider.
“Too many people cancel at the last minute, are flaky, are late. Just remember that the other person has feelings too. At the end of the day it’s still real people who are still making the time to meet you.”
When you’re actually on the date, even if you’ve realised they’re not going to be ‘the one,’ try not to completely tune out – you could still learn something or get a valuable connection out of the meeting.
Of course, if your date is more into you than you are to them, that’s where things get extra tricky. And if they ask you on a second date there and then, it can be really awkward to say no to their face.
However, according to Ettin, honesty really is the best policy. “I recommend something like, ‘thanks again for the drinks, but I just didn’t feel the spark I was looking for,’” she says.
“‘I just didn’t feel a connection romantically, but all the best.’ Tactful and honest.” And easier to send over text than face-to-face.
But whatever you do, don’t chicken out of ending it by ghosting your date.
“You think you’re sparing someone’s feelings but really all you’re sparing is yourself from having an awkward conversation,” Ettin said.
“It doesn’t have to be awkward at all. Someone can be disappointed you don’t feel it, but they’re not going to be angry at you for having feelings, or not having feelings – as long as you’re nice about it.”