When starting online in a long distance relationship, meeting for the first time can trigger a whirlwind of emotions.
On one hand, the thought of physically being with the person you’re building a relationship with and starting to have deep feelings for floods you with warmth and fills you with excitement.
After getting to know this person through a phone or computer screen. You finally have the chance to be in each other’s arms, breathe in their smell, find out what it feels like to kiss them, and… plenty of other stuff!
On the other hand, the reality of meeting face-to-face can be triggering…
Especially when it comes to uncertainty and anxiety.
You may find a never-ending stream of questions running through your head as the date approaches.
Will they like me in person?
What if I’m not what they were expecting?
What if we finally kiss and something just feels…wrong?
These worries are normal, but approaching a first meeting riddled with anxiety has a tendency to keep you in your head and out of the moment.
That’s why we’re here!
Read on for our tips on how to create an amazing first-meeting experience!
When Should You Meet For The First Time?
If you meet someone interesting online, you’re going to have to decide at some point when you want to take the relationship offline and meet for the first time in the real world. So when is it best to meet for the first time in person? As quickly as possible? Or after you’ve allowed time for the connection to deepen and strengthen?
As Lisa McKay puts it…
Every situation and relationship is unique, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this. But in general, my answer to this question is: As soon as reasonably possible.
In my case, that was three months. In yours, it might be three weeks or a year. Don’t push things along too fast—there’s no reason to jump on a plane to meet someone you met in a chat room last weekend. But, assuming you can afford it and you’re out of school, there’s generally no reason to go longer than six months without meeting in person at least once.
Have a Clear Plan in Place
You may not be able to control the majority of the uncertainty when meeting for the first time. As it’s impossible to know for sure how you will feel together until it actually happens.
Instead of getting lost in the “what ifs” that are out of your control, shift your focus to things you do have control over.
In the lead-up, work together to create an itinerary!
Filling your trip with fun activities to do, restaurants to try, or friends and family to meet can help alleviate concerns about the unknowns and get you both excited for what’s to come.
Not only is this a chance to learn more about each other and what you like to spend your time doing. It will also help you prioritize your time together.
All long distance couples know how quickly time flies during the precious moments spent together, and having a plan in place can avoid any regrets when you’re looking back on the trip.
Embrace the Awkwardness
It doesn’t matter…
- How long you’ve been talking to your long distance partner
- The hundreds of romantic text messages you’ve exchanged, or
- How many phone calls were stretched into the early hours of the morning.
The first few moments will likely feel a little awkward!
If you find some unwanted silence at the beginning, don’t get discouraged. Chances are, your partner is experiencing the same combination of excitement and nerves as you are.
Instead of putting pressure on yourself to pretend everything is perfect, own the fact that you feel nervous and let each other know.
Those nerves come from having real feelings for one another, from a desire for things to go well, and from wanting to impress each other.
These are all positives!
When the time comes:
- Breathe through it,
- Laugh about it, and
- Hug it out.
The awkwardness is only temporary and will melt away quicker than you think. Before long, it’ll feel like there was never an ocean between you in the first place.
Have Someone Else There (if you want)
When you find yourself daydreaming, picturing the romantic moment of you and your partner embracing each other for the first time.
It probably looks a lot like those rom-com airport reunion scenes. Where the background melts away completely and it seems like the only thing that exists is your love.
Read: it does not involve someone else being there too.
While it is important to set aside one on one time that will allow you to be more intimate and forge a deeper connection. There is nothing wrong with having a family member or friend there with you in the beginning…
…if that makes you feel more comfortable.
They can be a grounding support system if emotions become overwhelming, and it’s a great opportunity for your partner to meet important people in your life.
Just make sure to have a conversation with your partner beforehand if you plan on bringing company. No one wants to be caught off guard with a surprise introduction to a family member after months worth of pent-up passion get poured into a first kiss.
Don’t Get Stuck at Immigration
If you’re in an international long distance relationship, meeting for the first time means you must be prepared for immigration.
Border control is no joke.
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a stuffy airport office, rather than being with your partner. All because you didn’t have the necessary information on hand.
- Know where you’re staying
- Know what you’ll be doing (shout out to the itinerary!)
- Have enough funds
- Say you’re visiting a friend, and
- Be able to show proof of employment.
This isn’t legal advice, so remember to always do your own research.
But in all seriousness, every country has different rules and regulations. Make sure you look up where you’re visiting and have everything prepared.
It Will SUCK to Leave
Post-visit blues are REAL and a major reason why long distance relationships don’t work out. Unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that saying goodbye is going to hurt.
After all the planning and anticipation. Dealing with the reality that being together is only temporary can be a tough pill to swallow.
After getting the chance to spend quality time together, your bond is probably stronger than ever before. While boarding that plane can feel like you’re leaving a part of your heart behind.
As tempting as it can be to get home and dramatically fling yourself into bed or gaze out the window like you’re in a music video. Letting yourself sink completely into your sadness can result in those negative feelings lasting for days or weeks after the trip is over.
Having a plan in place to combat those post-visit blues can help you cope in more productive ways. Some suggestions to get you on the right path include:
- Start planning the next visit with your partner as soon as possible (even if it’s months away).
- Have a social or self-care activity booked for after your trip (seeing friends, working out etc).
- Feel your feelings in healthy ways (call a friend, journal, book a therapy appointment).
Post-visit-blues are a real struggle. Check out our post on the best science backed ways to combat them and long distance relationship depression.
Meet in Public
As we mentioned, awkward moments are completely normal as you both adjust to what it feels like to be physically together.
Being in a public place can help for two reasons:
- Background noise can drown out those moments of silence, and
- Being surrounded by other people, even complete strangers can help make the environment feel more comfortable.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, no matter how long you’ve known this person and how real your connection may be. You’re still ‘meeting someone from the internet’ for the very first time.
While any concerns in the back of your mind will most likely melt away once you’re together. It’s always better to be safe and stick to a public place until you can get a better sense of what it’s like being around each other.
There are no rules stating that you need to stay with your partner if you’re visiting them. Or have to invite them to stay at your place if they’re visiting you.
The only rule is that both of you need to feel comfortable.
Ask yourself if you would feel more comfortable or if there would be less pressure on the visit if staying at an Airbnb would allow for the option of some space.
On the other hand, if one of you lives with roommates or family members, an Airbnb can provide the option of privacy in a place you both feel more at ease.
Have a Backup Plan
Having a backup plan doesn’t mean you’re jinxing things or being pessimistic, it just means you’re well-prepared and not completely naive.
You don’t need to have anything booked in advance, but make sure to ask yourself what you will do if the situation doesn’t go as expected. For example:
Do I have a friend in the same city who you could stay with?
If I need to book a hotel, do I have enough money put aside?
Who should I keep updated if I need to call someone?
Take LOTS of Photos & Videos
Time is going to fly by, so make sure you take plenty of photos and videos to commemorate the experience. There is no shame in taking a million selfies or asking a stranger to take a picture of you kissing in the park.
These will be sweet memories to reminisce on until the next time you get to be together. They’re also a nice way to help your friends and family be included in your experiences.
In the long run, you’ll be happy those moments were captured, and not just for your personal memory bank.
If you’re an international long distance couple, these photos are eventually going to serve as evidence of your relationship when you do get to the point of permanently closing the distance and immigrating.
Pro tip: Having photos of friends and family with you together will make your application more authentic and help immigration officials see how real your relationship truly is.
Talk About Boundaries
Have you and your partner already had a conversation about boundaries?
If not, having a check-in beforehand can ensure you’re both on the same page by the time you meet. This will reduce any confusion or miscommunication and avoid wasting precious time together. Think about:
Is it okay to go in for a kiss right away?
Do both of you feel comfortable sleeping in the same bed?
Do you have the same opinions about PDA?
Are there any topics that are off limits?
Everything will feel almost perfect when you’re together and to try and keep it that way you’ll be willing to say YES to almost anything.
- “Yes, please!” to the tomahawk steak at dinner.
- “Why not!?” for the VIP seat upgrade at the movies.
- “Sure, let’s do it!” when splurging on gifts.
You may feel the urge to do everything and anything. But it can hurt down the line.
Think about your hip pocket!
What could be the potential ramifications of going a little overboard with your spending?
- It may push your next visit to a later date or be a much shorter trip, which would be devastating. Or
- You could find yourself not being able to close the distance because you’re nowhere near financially ready.
While these two examples are somewhat extreme, they are real.
This is also why it’s great to plan ahead and prepare an itinerary! You’ll both be on the same page regarding what’s realistic and it can also act as a way to increase your saving efforts to do the things you want to do.
Put Friends & Family Members at Ease
As frustrating as it can be to be peppered with questions and comments from friends or family members about the fact you’re going to meet someone you met online.
Remember it comes from a place of love. They are simply trying to understand a situation that feels foreign to them.
Putting a face and personality to the name can offer them much-needed reassurance.
Think about having pre-visit video chats, connecting your partner with your loved ones on social media, or making an effort to plan virtual group hangouts (like game night).
Those important to you will start to understand all of the reasons you’ve fallen for your partner.
No Two Experiences Are the Same
Every relationship is unique, and there is no guarantee that your experience will be the same as anyone else’s.
While we’re so glad you’re here and reading our advice, it can be helpful to give you a wider perspective.
Here are some other helpful resources to check out:
Pro tip: Reddit communities are great but many have particular rules when it comes to how to post and what you can and can’t share. Make sure to read each subreddit’s rules!
What You Should Learn After Your First Meeting
You are bound to learn a lot about yourself and your partner after the first meeting that will have a big impact on your relationship moving forward. Here are two things to look out for:
1. You will know if you’re being catfished (or scammed)
Most people have good intentions and will turn out to be more or less who they say they are.
However, MOST is not everyone.
It’s a sad reality that long distance romance scams are on the rise. You might think you’d never fall for a scammer, but don’t underestimate how good these people are at stirring up emotions and making intense connections.
Haven’t met in person yet? You really should read our article on how to spot the signs of a long distance relationship scam.
2. It will help you take off the “rose-colored glasses”
In the early stages, everyone is prone to seeing the object of their budding affections through rose-colored glasses.
Psychologists call this the “ halo effect.”.
In practice, it means that during the first months (sometimes years) of getting to know someone we find attractive, we tend to assume that they are wonderful in all sorts of other ways as well.
In other words, when we are drawn to someone’s bright smile, shiny hair, or pithy text messages, we tend to assume that he or she also smart, kind, and interesting.
This sort of idealization is even easier to have with someone when they live far away and we have only letters, texts, and phone calls to help us get to know them.
When you meet someone in person you learn so much about how they look, move, act, smell… and much more. All of that builds a firmer picture of who they are in your mind. Before you meet in person, your brain will fill in the gaps on this sort of stuff by imagining all sorts of good things.
Meeting will help move your ideas about this person closer to the reality of this person, and that’s always a good thing.
Are You Ready to Meet Your Long Distance Partner For The First Time?
Which of these tips are important for you to discuss with your partner before meeting for the first time? Send this article to them so you have an honest and open discussion together and get one step closer to finally being together!
It’s easy to feel isolated in your anxiety, but chances are your partner is probably feeling worried about some of the same things.
Opening up to them about how you’ve been feeling will not only help validate any of their own concerns. It will also set the tone for healthy communication about other important aspects of your relationship.
Remember, at the end of that day what’s most important is doing whatever is going to make you feel the most comfortable!