Phase 4: The Face-to-Face Meeting
The fourth phase is roughly equivalent to Givens’ fourth stage titled the ‘sexual arousal’ stage. For online daters, the first date very much determines if there will be any further dates. This meeting is different to a ‘traditional’ first date where sexual attraction has already been established and the couple plan to spend a romantic evening together. Instead it is a meeting where the pair test out physical chemistry and see how well the person matches up with the profile. For safety reasons the meeting usually takes place in a public space (e. g., cafe shop, bar) and is most likely scheduled for a restricted amount of time (so that individuals can make a quick escape ifthe interaction does not run smoothly). Some devise contingency plans that if the meeting works out well it will continue onto a proper date—(e. g., dinner). Given the fears that individuals will not live out to their profiles, some online daters are savvy enough to check out their date from a vantage point and if they do not turn out looking exactly how they had hoped (e. g., if the photo is a few years out of date or they look somewhat larger than described), the person might not go through with the date (sometimes politely calling on the other’s mobile with an excuse as to why they could not make it).
It has been found that 68% of participants believe that the first face-to-face meeting is a screening out process (Whitty, in press). If there is much discrepancy between the person and the profile, the person is usually judged as untrustworthy and not worthwhile pursuing. Common lies told on these sites tend to be about physical appearance. For example, it has been found that men are more likely to lie about their height and status, while women are more likely to lie about their weight (Whitty, in press; Whitty, & Carr, 2006; Hancock, Toma, Ellison, 2007).
A person might have written a profile that they can live up to in the flesh. However, during this first meeting, if one of both parties does not believe there is any physical chemistry or ‘sexual arousal’ (as Givens refers to), then the two might remain friends or discontinue any further contact.