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When it comes to online dating, the first date–the one where you take your chat from virtual to face-to-face–shouldn’t count as a date. It’s the pre-date. It really counts as that first conversation you might’ve had with a cute guy or girl at a bar.

You see, when you see a cute guy at a bar and go up to talk to him, you’re sussing him out. Beyond what hearing what he’s saying (job, hometown, alma mater), you’re determining whether you’re attracted to him, whether there’s any sort of chemistry, whether you’d be interested in seeing him one on one on a different night, in a different place. This first encounter would never count as a date.

But in online dating world, that first encounter seems to count as a real date because unlike bumping into another person at a bar or a party, this meeting has to be scheduled and arranged like a date would. You’ve got agree to a time, place, activity as you would on any first date. So even though you’re doing the same thing you would if you were randomly thrown together at a dinner party–sizing the other person up–this feat of scheduling goes down in the dating ledger as an actual first date.

Which is why I think that when it comes to counting up the number of dates you’ve been on with someone you met online, you shouldn’t really include the first one in the tally. But it probably will be counted because of all the effort that goes into it. Dates are work. Accidental encounters are effortless.

In this formulation, it would be thirteen “dates,” not twelves that would be considered a dozen, akin to a baker’s dozen. (Of course, it’s pretty weird if you’re still counting at this point.)

What do you guys think? Is it a date? Or is it an overly formal first encounter?



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