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How long is too long to block out for a first date?

Updated: Jul 17, 2021

So, I read this in today’s WSJ by Dan Ariel and and liked this reader's question! Basically, here is the question posed:

Dear Dan,

I’ve been corresponding with someone online, and we’re going to meet “in real life” for coffee. What’s the optimal length of time for this first get together? Should I just wait and see how the conversation goes and take it from there? —Justin”

Courtesy of Wall Street Journal

Dan’s Reply:

Most conversations probably last too long, not just awkward dating ones: In a recent study, most people asked to recall their last conversation reported that they had wanted it to end sooner.

But if you arrange for a meeting with a potential romantic partner to be just 15 minutes, your date will read this as low interest. Conversely, if you block out five hours, you will suggest a different expectation. So, what should you do?

Set the meeting for an hour, which is a good amount of time to form an initial impression. If things don’t seem to be going in the right direction, shift your goal. Start working on your conversational skills: See if you can get the person to open up a bit more, to change their mind about something or to tell you a joke. Not all meetings need to be romantic. If you have more time than you need, try to make a different use of it.

Andrea McGinty’s Reply (me!):

For the most part, I think Dan gave an informative answer and was on point with most suggestions. An hour is about right for coffee—and you have somewhere to go after---pick kids up, back to work, a yoga class, some easy out.

Where I disagree is the coffee date. It’s not romantic. Period. Who wants to be uncomfortable in a small Starbucks or Peet’s setting, letting others overhear your obvious first date conversation?

Coffee is a copout.

If you are serious about online dating---by that I don’t mean marriage in a month, why not take this hour you have and put it to better, and more romantic, comfortable use? In an hour you can eat lunch. In an hour you can have drinks overlooking a sunset or a margarita at a fun outside Chicago bar. That’s a date.

Ask yourself why you are engaged in online dating. You took the time to write an online dating profile, perhaps hired an online dating consultant, took great care with your photos and chose a dating app/site that you hope will bring IRL (In Real Life Dating).

With my clients and helping with online daters since the genesis in the 1990’s, I’ve worked with thousands of clients (over 35,000 now!) and have found much success for my clients’ love lives---which makes me so happy and think I have an awesome job!!

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