The 4 Benefits of Pre-dating
In 2011, I was asked to speak at a panel event called “Battle of the Sexes,” where men and women came together to discuss and debate hot topics regarding sex, love, and dating.
As the discussion turned towards the topic, “What is the worst first date experience you’ve had recently?” I kinda shocked everyone by saying that I had none. Seeing as how I spent much of the night decrying everything that annoyed the hell out of me about dating and relationships, people really expected me to have a laundry list of negativity to rant about regarding first dates. I immediately clarified their misconceptions by stating, “My first dates are usually cool because I make sure to vet women very carefully on the pre-date.”
In 2011, when online dating was still stigmatized and dating apps weren’t very popular in straight communities, the idea of a pre-date ruffled the collective feathers of the entire audience. They couldn’t understand what the point of a pre-date was. The women thought I was just advocating lazy ass dating that would allow men to “get away” with lackluster and simplistic meetups, while the men thought I was just trying to smash women without having to put in any significant time or effort. Everyone thought I was foolish, but I saw the writing on the wall: people are more apt to go on first dates with people they’ve never met before in person.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a “pre-date” is simply a low pressure, no-strings attached meetup conducted by two people who have spent little to no time together in person. In 2016, pre-dates aren’t for two friends looking to see if they should be more than that, but rather they’re for the people who meet on Plenty of Fish, or Black People Meet, via Twitter DMs, or Tinder. They’re for the people who are meeting someone they’ve never seen in person—and they are becoming a necessity for a variety of different reasons.
Here are the four major advantages to meeting up for a pre-date before committing to an actual date.
1. Chemistry checks are crucial.
The major thing I learned about myself once I began online dating is that there’s a huge difference between e-chemistry and real life chemistry. While you may be able to type funny and witty banter with a random avatar, meeting someone in person and having things click immediately is not a given. Traditional dates, where party A and party B agree to an extended interaction (i.e. dinner and a movie), is cool when you meet someone in person and feel the spark of chemistry before asking them out. But in our modern dating scene, that is simply not a good idea. Just because you clicked online doesn’t guarantee there will be real success offline.
The advantage of the pre-date is that you meet at a location (no one picks anyone up), and you’re not locked in for any amount of time. So there’s no need to find a bathroom window if things go south. If you meet up at a local coffee shop, and the conversation becomes stilted and filled with awkward silence, just pick up your latte and be on your way.
2. Verifying looks is important.
One of the most ridiculous ideologies I’ve ever heard in regards to dating is the idea that being superficial is wholly wrong. When it comes to dating, no human being on Earth should try to force themselves to see past not being attracted to someone. People’s pictures online are more heavily edited than a George W. Bush autobiography. These apps come with all kinds of filters and special effects that are aimed at making a person look far different than how they appear on a daily basis.
The advantage of the pre-date is that you avoid committing to a long traditional first date with someone you wouldn’t want to give you a pedicure, much less touch you romantically. If you find yourself sitting at a dinner table across from someone who used a cute 1997 grad photo, but aged like Brett Farve, you can get up and be on your way.
3. Efficient dating is necessary.
Traditional dates require time, money, and effort, all of which the right person deserves. But if we’re being completely honest, there’s nothing worse than the feeling of wasting time, especially for those of us who aren’t exactly spring chickens anymore. Old-hat traditional dating is cool in terms of wining and dining someone you have reasonable knowledge of, but if you have no damn idea who they are, that should be a privilege as opposed to an expectation.
The advantage of the pre-date is that you save yourself from putting useful energy into a useless situation. By vetting the person, you spare yourself the combination of wasting time and effort on someone who didn’t deserve much more than a drink or two from you. Once you realize that this is not the person for you, you can stand up and be on your way.
4. Safe & secure dating is crucial.
This one is huge. Meeting someone off of an app or an online dating site still has a certain amount of unknown danger. You are essentially agreeing to spend time with someone who could be setting you up or is just plain ol’ crazy. In a traditional dating setup, a man would pick a woman up from her home, drive her in his car to the location of their date, and then proceed to spend the next few hours together.
The advantage of the pre-date is that you would meet up at a mutually agreed upon location at a public place you are both familiar with. Limiting your exposure to risk is simply a reality we all must confront when it comes to online dating.
While online dating may not be the move for everyone, it definitely has undeniable advantages. In this world where dates are being initiated with less and less human contact, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making sure you take a moment to discover who you’re seeing before locking yourself into an actual date.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.