Should you have a pre-date before a real date?

by Fran Creffield - December 2, 2013

A pre-date is a short, face-to-face meeting with a match which happens quite quickly after you’ve first made contact. Are they a good idea?

While communicating online there’s a big question about whether or not there’ll be a spark between you when you actually meet. You may appear to have lots in common and have a brilliant rapport developing, but both of you know without chemistry it’s likely to come to nothing. Meeting quickly before you invest valuable time and emotional energy into building a connection has many advantages:

You get to use your intuition. Lots of people can tell great stories about themselves online and be very plausible and convincing but when you meet in person you’ll get a gut feeling if someone is authentic and trustworthy.

It could save hours of writing carefully constructed emails. Communicating online comes naturally to some, but if you’re more of a ‘real life’ person, you may find yourself spending a lot of time writing your emails and making sure the tone is just right. A quick meeting will help you work out what someone’s really like so you’ll find messaging them a lot easier in the future. In addition to this, if you meet someone and quickly realise there’s no chemistry between you, you don’t have to continue corresponding with them.

You can learn more about someone in 10 minutes of face to face contact than you ever will online because you get to see their expressions, mannerisms, and how they interact with others. Online they’re only telling you what they’re conscious of about themselves, in person you get to see their unconscious behaviours too.

You’ll be able to give more matches a chance which means you’re not pinning all your hopes on just the ones who seem to tick all your boxes.

You only have to spend a short time with them. Pre-dates are usually just a quick coffee in a busy, public place during the day, maybe in your lunch hour if you both live in the same city. Experts say we know within the first 10 minutes of meeting someone if we’re attracted to them!.

You’ll know how much energy to invest in the ‘real’ date. If you’ve already met and you both like each other enough to go on a date then you know it’s worth making an effort. You’ve seen each other in your day or work clothes and no-one ran for the exit. Now, for an evening date, you can scrub up and show them your sparkle without worrying it will be in vain.

It’s better for people who aren’t great wordsmiths. Some people may be brilliant conversationalists but not very good writers. This puts them at a disadvantage if the early stages of a relationship are built online.

Investment of time. If you have a busy life, time is at a premium and dating takes time whichever way you do it. How you use that time will make a difference to the odds of success and how the online dating process affects how you feel about yourself.

10 hours of emailing, instant messaging and phone calls to one match before a date that lasts 3 hours only to find he/she doesn’t want to see you again when you were certain (after all that emailing) that they were the one = disappointment, disillusionment, reluctance to try again.

However, 10 smaller coffee dates with different matches of all shapes and sizes (some that lead to proper dates!) will give you an increase in confidence, an awareness of what works and doesn’t work and a keener idea of what you really want in a relationship.


You’re meeting a stranger. This is true whether you meet them after the first email or the 100th which is why it’s always important to follow our safety advice. Keeping the relationship online for longer may make you feel more confident that the person is less of a stranger and there’s a real connection between you but you still won’t really know until you meet them.

There are no ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’ in dating. Whether or not to go on a pre-date is a decision that needs to be made by each person depending on what they feel most comfortable with and what’s feasible with their match.