We don't live online, we live in the real world. Perhaps this is an obvious statement, but we should remind ourselves of it often. Online dating is great--it greatly broadens our possible connections; it makes it easier to filter out potential deal-breakers (smoking, incompatible politics, religion, philosophy); it provides a more civilized option to noisy bars and clubs. But online daters often forget that life isn't lived online. It's easy to get caught up in the mechanics of online dating: searching, scrolling, filtering, messaging, and forget that it's only the prelude to sitting across from a real live human being and having a conversation.
There are many historic tales of friendships and even romances formed and sustained for long periods solely though exchanging letters. It's quite possible to get to know someone very well this way. But these relationships were often developed or sustained through correspondence because some kind of barrier prevented their connecting in person. If you're seeking someone to connect with face to face and spend time with remember that they don't exist on the internet.
Whoa...where did you go?
My greatest frustration with online dating is that many women I contact will exchange messages for a few days, a week or a month and then when invited to coffee, either make weak excuses or simply disappear. Of course, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind at any time, just as if you meet in a bar, have a nice chat, and she leaves without a goodbye. But it's still frustrating. In some cases, women simply lack the confidence to get out of their house or apartment and actually meet someone, which is the whole point of the online dating.
Note: if your online exchange goes beyond a few weeks, I highly recommend issuing an ultimatum, which I'll discuss elsewhere.
In preparation for my upcoming book on self improvement and dating, I'm interviewing men and women of different ages about their dating experience. D.W., a 31-year-old male, made one of the best suggestions to date: "Don't take the whole thing too seriously." Remember, it's just a date, it's just a coffee, it's just an opportunity to see if you have a connection with someone. When it comes to online dating, realize always that OKCupid, Match.com and other sites can offer nothing more than an introduction. Everything that follows is up to you.