It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known each other. You’re going to be nervous to meet someone you met online.
- Will they like me in person?
- Are we going to have “chemistry”?
- What if we have nothing in common?
- Will the kissing (and the rest) be good?
- What if we run out of things to say/do?
- What if they don’t show up?
These worries will likely never come to pass. But it’s important that we acknowledge these REAL feelings so we can learn to manage them.
To help, here are some effective ways you can get those first-meeting nerves under control.
How to Cope With Nerves Before Your First Meeting
1. Admit you’re nervous
If you’re feeling nervous to meet someone you met online, tell them. Sharing how you are feeling will help you feel calmer, and let them know where you’re at.
Admitting to the nerves in advance will also help both of you be more understanding if things feel a bit weird initially.
2. Talk about what you want your first meeting to be like before you meet
Before you get to that super-charged awesome moment of first meeting, talk together about what you hope it will be like. This will help you manage expectations and avoid doing something that could make the other person uncomfortable in that special moment.
For example, lots of people I know in long distance relationships dream of walking through that arrivals door, grabbing this awesome person they’ve been absolutely dying to meet, and immediately sharing a long, passionate kiss.
But not everyone wants this! Some people are really uncomfortable with pubic displays of affection and kissing you for the first time in the arrivals terminal of the airport is not what they have in mind at all. Other people will need some time to warm up to actually sharing space with you before they’ll want to share a kiss.
So talk together about that first meeting before you get there. Especially if you want to sweep them into your arms upon arrival and kiss them until they see stars, you really need to make sure they’re going to be OK with that. In fact, you need to make sure that they’re going to be more than OK with that. You’ve spent a long time investing in this relationship, you don’t want to step off the plane and make them feel uncomfortable because you moved too fast.
3. Remind yourself feeling nervous is normal
It is totally normal to feel a fairly intense combination of nervous/scared/excited before you meet someone you’ve grown to care about for the first time.
Meeting for the first time in person is a big deal and a pivotal moment in your relationship. You’re not dumb. You know that. And things that are a big deal in our life usually provoke big-deal-sorts-of-emotional-reactions.
You are normal. This is normal.
4. Remind yourself that they know you
By this stage of your long distance relationship, you have probably talked for hours and hours on video calls.
Remind yourself that this person knows you.
They know what:
- You look like
- Your laugh sounds like
- You like to talk about.
They know you on a deep level, and they like you a lot. It will be OK.
The worst outcome here is that you are making a good friend. The best outcome… well, the sky is the limit.
5. Tell yourself you are excited, not scared
Did you know that the way your body responds to excitement in pretty much the same way it responds to fear–by releasing adrenaline into your bloodstream?
That adrenaline causes your heart to beat faster, your breathing to speed up, your palms to get sweaty, etc.
The physical reactions caused by excitement and fear are really similar, so whether we feel exhilarated or afraid is often due to the way we are thinking about our situation and interpreting our body’s cues of arousal.
In other words, it is the “tape” that is playing in your brain which labelled your arousal as “scary” or “awesome fun”.
If you’re standing in the airport thinking about all the things you’re worried about and all the ways things could go wrong, you’re going to feel scared.
If you’re standing there reminding yourself of all the things you like about this person and all the ways they make you feel comfortable and alive, you’ll probably feel less scared and more excited.
So while you’re playing the waiting game, remind yourself that you’re excited, not afraid.
6. Remind yourself why you like this person so much
In the last point, we talked about how important the “tape in our brain” is during these moments. When you’re trying to figure out whether you feel scared or just really excited, you will (often subconsciously) be “listening” to the messages on that mental tape that’s playing in your brain to help you make that call.
So… put some good messages or sound-bites on those tapes to help balance out the worries and uncertainties. Here are a couple of things you can do:
- Spend time thinking about all the good things you love about him or her.
- Thin about what they have told you they love about you and how you make them feel.
- Think about your last conversation in detail.
- Think about your best-case scenario for how your first meeting will go.
7. Talk back to specific fears
Sometimes it can also really help to “talk back” to specific worries we find playing in our mind.
For example, if you’re wondering whether they might get off the plane and suddenly change their mind about what they feel for you, remind yourself that it is unlikely that their feelings about you (or yours about them) will have undergone a sudden and radical shift during their journey, no matter how bad that flight was!
When you do this you are recognizing your worried thoughts for what they are. You aren’t trying to ignore them or pretend you’re not feeling jittery. But you don’t have to let those thoughts run amok in your mind, either. Acknowledge them, accept that they’re there, and then talk back to them by focusing on logic, thoughts, and memories that counteract those worries.
8. Take a deep breath
The phrase “take a deep breath” is so over-used it’s almost a cliché, isn’t it? However, I couldn’t leave it out because taking a deep breath will really help you out here.
Well, did you know that when you feel nervous or angry (or very excited) your heart rate speeds up?
And once your heart rate exceeds a certain level (about 10% above your resting rate) you get “flooded.” Adrenaline and other stress chemicals pour into your system. These chemicals make it difficult to think clearly or focus. The higher your heart rate, the more stressed and anxious you tend to feel.
Breathing deeply and slowly sends a “calm down” message to your body and helps reverse the stress response. So while you’re waiting to meet them, focus on taking some slow, deep breaths. Breath in for the count of four, out for the count of four, in for the count of four… etc.
9. Understand that making eye contact and hearing their voice will feel weird initially
After becoming so used to connecting via video, making eye contact in person is probably going to feel a bit weird and intense initially. And here’s something you may not expect, but is also normal—their voice will probably sound a bit different in person.
Internet video is pretty good at capturing voices (better than a telephone line,) but still not perfect at capturing all the frequencies in someone’s voice. That means that when you meet in person their voice will probably sound a bit different than you’d expected because you’re only now hearing all the frequencies.
If you expect these things to feel a bit odd in the beginning it won’t throw you as much.
10. Plan ahead
If you’re feeling nervous about meeting someone for the first time, figure out what you’re feeling most nervous about and then make a plan to address that.
If you’re afraid you won’t know what to say to each other, for example, think about some questions you want to ask them, or things you want to discuss together.
If you’re worried things are going to feel awkward and weird, plan what you’re going to do together that first day–maybe go out to a favorite restaurant or do something else fun and relaxing. Having a plan in place (even if you don’t end up doing that) will help you feel more in control and much more relaxed.
Looking to plan things to do when you meet? Check out our post on some things to do that will help you to relax and have fun together on your first visit.
Still Nervous To Meet That Special Someone You Met Online?
If you’re still unsure about how to cope with the nerves. We have our eleventh and final tip:
11. Join our Free LDR Support group
By joining our free LDR Support Group you can ask questions and get thoughtful advice from other long distance couples that have gone through similar experiences.
We hope to see you there!