As much fun as online dating can be, there are still plenty of aspects of it that can be nerve-wracking — like not knowing whether someone you matched with will turn out to be a total dud or the next love of your life. Of course, it pretty much goes without saying that until you actually meet up with someone, there's no way to know for sure what your IRL connection will be like, but that doesn't mean you can't still be on the lookout for signs you'll have chemistry with an online date.
"Sometimes someone seems great on an app but then when meeting, there’s no chemistry and/or it’s hard to chat," Meredith Golden, a dating app ghostwriter and dating coach, tells Bustle. "And sometimes, a single can seem eh on the app but the date can go swimmingly well. This is why I encourage my clients to meet as many people as possible. I give this advice with the caveat to keep the first meet short to avoid dating fatigue. If the brief micro-date goes well, then invest more than 30 minutes of your time on the next date."
Instead of getting all worked up about how a date will or won't go, try entering the first date with no expectations, and simply use it as an opportunity to get a feel for how you vibe with your date. If you really hit it off, then you can plan longer, more intimate subsequent dates. All that being said, that doesn't mean it's wrong to want to look for clues that your connection with someone will be extra special — here are eight signs that an online date might be someone you really connect with IRL.
1You Have A Shared Passion
Whether your passion is crocheting, wind-surfing, or photography, finding someone online who shares that passion is all but a guarantee that, at the very least, you'll be able to hold a good convo about your mutual hobby on the date.
"A shared passion is a great indicator that conversation will flow," Golden says. "For example, if two singles are both avid readers, it’s easy to talk about what each is currently reading, favorite books, favorite childhood books, and trade book suggestions. Easy conversation is always preferred over awkward silences."
2You Have Mutual Friends
Although not every dating app will indicate whether you have mutual friends with someone, if you use one that does have that feature — like Tinder or Bumble — that can be a great way to break the ice with someone new.
"If you have mutual friends in common, this provides an easy conversation starter," Golden says. "Some of the apps will show a match who their mutual Facebook friends are which can be used as a social icebreaker."
3You're Able To Talk About Anything
When you're on a first date and conversation isn't flowing well, it can be pretty darn awkward — which is why it's a good sign if you're able to talk about anything and everything before you even meet IRL.
"Being comfortable sharing things with each other online is a positive sign that you’ll form a connection in real life," Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle.
4You Find Them Attractive
It might be kind of a no-brainer, but if you can't help but gawk and swoon at your match's photos, that's a pretty positive sign that (hopefully) you'll be just as into them in real life, too.
"There has to be a basic attraction to get very far," Brianna Rader, relationship and sex educator and founder of the Juicebox Sex & Relationship App, tells Bustle. "However, I wouldn't dwell on the details too much. Photos can give you a general idea of how someone looks but it might not show their confidence or the way they laugh at a joke."
5You Have Similar Communication Styles
Not everyone communicates in the same way — both over text and IRL, too — but if you and your match seem to be on exactly the same page when it comes to how you talk to each other pre-date, that's a telling sign.
"It can be tough maintaining a connection when you aren't together if you communicate drastically differently over text," Rader says. "For instance one of you may send long messages and the other only replies with one-word answers. Even if these different approaches are more about style than interest, it can make one person seem needy and the other seem disinterested. You will have more luck if you approach communication with similar styles."
6They Return Your Texts Promptly
You shouldn't get too worked up about how often someone texts you before you've even been out on a date, but if you notice that someone takes care to reply to your messages promptly, that's a good sign that, at the very least, they're interested in you.
"Regardless of communication styles, prompt replies are important to keep a relationship progressing," Rader says. "You don't need to reply immediately, however you should reply within 24 hours to convey your interest."
7You Have Similar Taste In Date Spots
Figuring out where to go on a first date can feel stressful, but if your match suggests something that makes you giddy with excitement — or seems stoked about an activity that you suggest — that's definitely a good omen for your date.
"Regardless of who plans the date, it's a good sign if you are both excited about the spot," Rader says. "If you both enjoy being outside, take a walk somewhere. If you both love wine, try a new wine bar in town. Planning a date with care, shows you are paying attention to your date's interests."
8You're In Similar Life Phases
You don't have to be in exactly the same career, financial, or living situation as someone to have a great time on a date, but if you're in at least a similar place in life, that can make it easier to connect right off the bat.
"Sure, dating outside your comfort zone can be exciting and may open your eyes to new interests, but often when people are in two polar opposite life-phases, it can be hard to relate to each other," Amica Graber, a relationship expert for the background checking site TruthFinder, tells Bustle. "...Being in a similar life phase can instantly create a connection — if you both love traveling and don't want to settle down, or if you need a venting partner after a hard day in the office, similar circumstances can immediately create empathy and connection."
Ultimately, until you actually meet someone, there's no way to tell whether you'll hit it off, or whether the connection will fall flat. The most important thing to remember? It's OK to have some meh dates from time to time — as long as you don't let those discourage you from trying again until you find someone you really click with.