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Building a relationship online is only half the battle. Your ultimate goal is to meet someone with whom you can build a relationship - and maybe even a life with - in the real world. This is where you begin to take the greatest risks and reap the greatest rewards. 

All relationships progress at various speeds. If it feels right and you sense that your partner is on the same page, there is no right or wrong length of time. However, outlined below are ideal scenarios for the first eight dates. This is generally the point where things will get serious or fizzle out.

Date 1

This is a ‘meet and greet’ to see if you want to go on a ‘real date’ with each other. Keep it to about two hours  - for a coffee or drink. Go in with cautious optimism. 

Date 2

Consider this your first proper date, however don’t go overboard. It’s still not the time for a candlelit dinner. You’re getting to know one another. This date allows you the opportunity to showcase something you enjoy. For example, your favourite pub or bar or pair an activity with conversation like pool or miniature golf or even an art gallery.

Date 3

This date is the decision-maker of the first phase of dating - whether both of you want to continue seeing each other (but not the time to tell her you want to go exclusive). You’re far enough in now to do a casual dinner and/or movies. 

Date 4

This is a good opportunity for a daytime date. That’s when you really get to know someone. In the light of the day people become who they truly are.

Date 5

By now you should be over the major jitters. You should know one another well enough to experience each other’s world first-hand. Perhaps a movie at someone’s house? Cooking dinner for one another - or even together.

Date 6

Time for a fancy date - something a bit more special where you dress up.

Date 7

She shouldn’t be asked to spend time with your friends and family until at least this point. Make sure she likes you before making sure your friends like her. (side note - be mindful of not introducing his or her kids too early)

Date 8

Assuming you are going out together once or twice a week, you could now suggest a day trip. Anything that will keep you both intrigued with each other. But just keep it to the day, no overnight stays YET!

At the very beginning, I would advise seeing each other no more than once or twice a week. People tend to get excited in the early phase and they dive in without looking where they are going. Pacing yourself will keep you interested longer and build more excitement for each meeting, fending off the tendency to take one another for granted.  

When to Take Your Profile Offline

When To Talk About Exclusivity

It's acceptable in the early phase of dating (and even encouraged) for you to date multiple people while you are still figuring things out. When you make a big purchase like a car, you don't just buy the first one you see. You test drive it. You go to different dealers to find the perfect colour and model. And, you negotiate a deal. Online dating is much the same. 

Unless she brings it up, I wouldn’t broach the subject of exclusivity until about week 5 or 6.   By the third date you are still getting to know each other and sussing each other out. Things are very fresh. I know it’s incredibly hard but for the first few weeks, go out with friends, keep your online profile up and don’t stop flirting. Even continue to date other woman (if the option is there).  Don’t put all your eggs in her basket. Don’t become friends on Facebook and don’t try to move too quickly.  Raising such a subject so early can even be off-putting for some woman and have the  opposite effect that she may perceive you as wanting to ‘lock her in’ to something she’s not yet quite ready for. 

Of course, you should still pursue her in the ‘gentlemanly’ way  (e.g. following up with phone call or text after date so say how much you enjoyed her company; asking her out again etc).  BUT you don’t need to have ’that' conversation about exclusivity so early on.  The stages of a relationship should happen naturally and organically - not rushed or fast tracked.  By you paying her attention and showing (through your actions) that you want to spend time with her will speak a thousand words and she will either reciprocate your feelings or not. 

If you did want to take some sort of action, I would suggest just hiding your profile (wait until after at least Date 3) BUT don’t tell her as otherwise she’ll feel pressured to do the same and it will start a too-serious conversation that is too early in the relationship. And who know’s, she may already be aware that your profile is hidden because she checks to see when you were last online!