Dear Gems from Jen,
I am very curious about guidelines when setting up that first meeting with a person who lives in another state.
When we “click” with someone who lives out of town, it could be the beginning of a long-distance relationship.  When the time is right and we begin to talk about finally meeting, what is the best way to handle this situation?
Having never met this person, it is only right to be cautious and not plan to have them stay with you in your home, or you in theirs.  However, if money is an issue (not being able to afford a hotel) then how exactly should you work out these details?
I know it’s not rude to expect to be safe and have the visitor stay in a hotel (or with a friend), but I still can’t help but feel that I’m asking too much of someone to ask them to purchase a plane ticket, pay for a hotel only to risk the chance of finally meeting in person to discover there is absolutely no attraction.
This scenario has come up a few times with me and the meeting never took place because of my desire to be cautious.
On the other hand, what if the arrangements have been made and they travel long distance, and reserve a hotel room. Would you prefer, ultimately, that he/she stays in your home?

Dear Long Distance Clicking,
It sounds to me as if you have answered the first part of your own question.  Always use caution when meeting someone for the first time. Emailing, texting, talking on the phone is one thing, but meeting in person is an entirely different ballgame. Always remember that safety is the number one priority in the online dating arena. Having a complete stranger stay in your home is an unnecessary risk. Even if you do believe you know this person based on electronic communication.
There is always a risk when meeting for the first time that the chemistry may not be right. It makes no difference if the person lives in the same city or has travelled across the country.  Not everyone meshes. This is a chance we all take. I do not believe that you are asking too much. You can always let the person know how you are feeling and remain friendly while they are visiting your neck of the woods.  There is absolutely no harm in that.
If you feel comfortable having the person stay with you after meeting that is a personal choice. Significant time may have gone into the electronic courting, but you are still meeting for the first time. A first date is just that, a first date.
Gems from Jen