The first time I met somebody from the internet in a real-life context, I was paralysed with fear. Not so much that he would turn out to be a glinting, axe-wielding maniac – though that wouldn’t really have been ideal – but rather that he wouldn’t like me, or I wouldn’t like him, and that we’d be stuck making awkward small talk whilst shooting desperate glances at the exit.
Among my primary concerns was the thought that he’d feel conned. Guys on these sites are always feeling conned. Ask any one of them about their worst date, and they’ll recount some airbrush-happy conniver who looked nothing like her pics. Apparently there’s a whole army of girls out there who, in real life, are moustachioed to the hilt with seventeen bellies.
I checked my upper lip carefully before I went out.
Meeting someone for the first time is tricky; a breeding ground for paranoias. For the first time, the person is getting the real, flesh-and-blood article – they’re getting your accent, mannerisms, facial expressions, hypothetical facial hair. And since so much is being disclosed, there are many ways in which it can go wrong. Worst is if he has seemed particularly keen beforehand – you are not so likely to fall from your pedestal, as to come down face-first with a thud.
Anyway, over time I realised that the awkwardness always dissipates, and it only takes five minutes – in almost every case it is possible (particularly if slightly sozzled) to have a really enjoyable night. Paranoias are rarely justified; insecurities are an unnecessary boredom; moustaches, if existent, can be bleached.
In fact, there’s really no need to worry until they actually do whip out that axe…