“How’d you two meet?” Show up to any social event with a date and you’re bound to hear this question. And for the many people who’ve met someone through an online dating site, it can feel like a tough one to answer. While some people have no qualms about sharing the details, others feel a bit embarrassed to go public with the information, somehow feeling it would be more “appropriate” if they had met their date just by accident, without really trying.

So, then, how do you explain how you met your online love? We asked that very question to more than 1,000 people. Check out the eye-opening results of our survey below, and then read our advice from experts and couples about how to know which approach is best for you — and how to pull it off with panache.

47% of respondents tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
Nearly half of you have no problem telling the world you met someone online. “I would be more uncomfortable telling someone that we met in a bar than that we met online,” says Michael Lasky, coauthor of Online Dating for Dummies, who met his wife online. “I mean, what’s the message of meeting in a club? ‘I went out dancing and I found someone who looked attractive,’ versus ‘I met somebody online,’ which means I’m probably very busy, confident enough to try something different and looking for someone with similar interests. Which option is more attractive to you?”

How to know if this approach is for you: People who’ve fallen head over heels for their online amour tend to be more willing to share the truth with others, says Lasky. So if you’re happily hooked up, who cares if you’re met with a surprised reaction from someone about how you met? You’re in love, after all! But if, on the other hand, you’re still in the early dating stages and aren’t sure the relationship will last for the long haul, you and your date may prefer to keep things under wraps until later. The more confident you become in your relationship, the less likely you’ll give a hoot who knows the minor details of how your paths crossed.

How to pull it off with panache: Announce your online liaison with enthusiasm — if you act apologetic, people will read between the lines and draw the conclusion that you have something to be embarrassed about. “I definitely admit openly and excitedly that I have met this wonderful man online,” says Jayne, 40, from New York. “Because I’m so positive about web dating, people respond positively.”

41% of respondents tell the truth to some people but not to others.
No matter how fabulous that person they met online is, a fair portion of respondents still weren’t comfortable with everyone knowing how they met — which is why they only tell certain people the whole story. “I’ve never been totally honest about online dating,” admits Laura, 31, of Garden City, KS. “I know that polls say almost everyone does it, but there are friends of mine, particularly guys, to whom I’d never admit that I met a dude online.” So what Laura will do is pick and choose who gets the truth. “I tell the truth to my girlfriends or anyone who mentions they date online, but for everyone else I just talk about ‘my date,’ not ‘Billy from my Internet dating site.’”

How to know if this approach is for you: This approach is best for people who enjoy gabbing about their dating life (what fun is it if you can’t spill some juicy details?) but swim in circles that might be more judgmental. So ask yourself: Would my life be easier (and lecture-free) if my parents thought I met my sweetie at a lovely little dinner party? Would mentioning online dating lead to a gazillion embarrassing questions when I’m out to lunch with a posse of married pals? In these situations, some people will decide that a white lie is the best option.

How to pull it off with panache: Take a cue from the circle you’re in. If they are good friends of yours, know that you’ve posted a profile or have mentioned knowing people who date online, you should be in the clear. If, however, you are amid judgmental types, just say you met wherever you had your first date, whether that’s the local Starbucks or over sangria and tapas. After all, it is true — that’s where you two first met — and this way, you won’t have to go back on your word if you decide to elaborate about the online thing later on.

13% of respondents fib about the fact that they met online.
In spite of the fact that online dating has reached a high level of acceptance in today’s world, a few respondents still prefer to keep mum. “I could never muster the nerve to tell people I’d met my boyfriend online,” says Jennifer, 30, from Oklahoma City. “So, I would tell different stories. For work people or extended family, I’d say we met at a party or through friends or something. Sometimes if we were with a group of people we didn’t know, we’d concoct fantastic stories. My favorite was when my guy told someone that we met through our Chinese delivery guy who mixed up our orders. It’s so preposterous, people never questioned it. That’s what made it fun.”

How to know if this approach is for you: If you’re highly sensitive to other people’s opinions or are worried that someone might make a joke about online dating that would sting, fibbing may be the most comfortable way for you to go.

How to pull it off with panache: It may be fun to concoct a wild story with your date and tell it to a group of people you’ll never see again. But when you’re talking to close friends and family members, make sure you and your date have your story straight and stick to it — otherwise, it can backfire badly. “If you go down a false path and get tripped up, it’s pretty embarrassing,” says Lasky. “And if you then reveal that you met online, after you just lied, everyone is going to think you covered it up for a reason so there must have been something wrong with it.” There clearly isn’t, but that’s how you’ll be portraying your relationship.

Instead, just pick an interest that the two of you share — and probably mentioned in your profile — like a love of animals, an appreciation of fine wine or a talent for racewalking, and say that’s what brought you together. Because, in truth, it pretty much did. Or summon your courage and tell the honest truth: The bottom line is you’ve met someone you like — and could possibly love — online. What’s so bad about that?

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