They say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This can certainly be said of dating.
On the surface, it looks like a completely different ball game now. Rather than meeting your future husband or wife at the office or in the classroom, you cross paths on a smartphone app, and after swiping left or right across hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of profiles at that.
Instead of asking someone outright for coffee to get to know them better, you simply spend hours or minutes chatting up someone (or perhaps more than one person) you’ve never met before deciding on whether you want to see more of him/her (or them).
Yet people are still confused about the same things. How much should you reveal to a prospective date? Who should pay on the first date? Should you split the bill instead? How do you reject someone politely? What should you do if you’re the one who gets rejected?
So, as a public service to you, dear reader, we have compiled the following list of do’s and don’t’s to keep online dating a classy experience for both you and your prospects:
1. Do be upfront about your intentions.
The beauty of online dating is you can sift through a wide pool of candidates, whatever your goal is. Searching for “The One?” That’s great. Trying to get back in the dating game after a nasty break-up? Cool. Looking for nothing more than a casual, short-term fling? That’s fine too.
Whatever endgame you have in mind for your online dating experience, always be honest about it. Some dating websites and apps allow you to indicate what you’re looking for on your profile, but it’s always good to set things straight with anyone you chat with as well.
Be sure to declare your intentions early on in conversations with your potential dates. It’ll help the other person decide if they want to move forward with you or if they’d rather seek out someone else, thus helping you both avoid disappointment.
2. Don’t embellish your online profile too much.
Ah, the wonders you can do with Photoshop. It can give you six-pack abs, snow-white or nut-brown flawless skin, and even an entirely new nose with just a few clicks.
However, this sort of false advertising will definitely ruin your chances at a second date. Think about it. Can you really trust someone who shows up to a date looking forty pounds heavier or twenty years older than their profile photo? If they lied about something as basic as their personal appearance, what else could they be hiding?
While posting a profile photo where you look your best is crucial, you should also only present an image that you can back up in real life. If you’re feeling a little iffy about posting a recent photo of yourself, remember that confidence is attractive, no matter what you look like.
3. Do remember your manners.
Start and end your emails and chats with a friendly greeting and a courteous goodbye. Greet the other person by name, and keep the conversation light and neutral. Four out of ten people generally don’t associate with those who disagree with their opinions, so try not to talk about divisive topics like politics or religion (unless that is what brought you two together).
Rudeness is a no-no, so save the profanity for your next ball game or drinking session. Steer clear of questions that are too personal as well, especially if you two have just started chatting.
And while we’re on the topic, please don’t ask for nudes or send unsolicited d*ck pics. I have yet to meet a woman who appreciates those, let alone gets turned on by them, so please keep your pants on, gentlemen.
4. Don’t respond to an ad or to an email unless you are genuinely interested in the prospect.
If you are reasonably attractive, you’re bound to receive a lot of feedback once you sign up for a dating website or app. Some people would advise replying to each one, but you’ll spend more time replying to such messages rather than actually dating, so respond only to the emails or ads that you’re drawn to, which brings us to…
5. Do reply to genuinely decent messages, even if it’s just to say “no.”
You could have a couple of legitimate reasons for not replying to a message (e.g., “I don’t want to get this person’s hopes up,” “My instincts are telling me to steer clear of this guy,” etc.), but I think messages that look like considerable effort was spent on them deserve an equally gracious reply, whether is a “yes” or a “no.”
So, how do you let a person down gently? First, mention how you liked their message, and perhaps what you liked about it specifically. (Hello, ______! Thank you for lovely message, I appreciate how you mentioned our mutual interest in dolphins.) Then, politely but firmly state how you are not interested in taking things further. (However, I don’t think we are looking for the same things at the moment.) End the note by wishing them well. (Good luck on finding your match!)
On the other hand, should that person still persist in contacting you (or worse, bombard you with messages forcing you to reconsider or insulting you), feel free to ignore and/or block them.
6. Don’t take rejection personally. Online dating is a numbers game.
The people here typically email up to fifty people on the site and chat with about twenty of those who responded before they narrow their dates down to two or three people.
If you do get rejected, accept it and then move on, but don’t let it get you down. As Dita von Teese once said, you can be the juiciest, plumpest, and most fragrant peach, but there will always be someone out there who doesn’t like peaches. Focus on the ones who can appreciate what you have to offer (whether you’ve got peach-like characteristics or not).
7. Do keep your emails and chats to a minimum.
Sure, you want to size up a person before going on an actual date with them and that’s the main reason for online dating’s existence, really. However, there is no substitute for meeting in person, and you don’t want to run out of things to talk about before then.
About 2-5 emails or chat sessions prior to meeting ought to suffice.
8. Don’t commit to anything until you meet face to face.
In other words, don’t agree to move in with someone, go out on multiple dates with them, or marry them before you’ve even met. Not even if it feels like you’ve “known them forever.”
Not only is it common sense to behave with restraint, but it will also save you from the indignity of having to go back on your word in case your date doesn’t exactly live up to the image they’ve built up in your head after all those chats or emails.
9. Do pay for the date fully when meeting for the first time.
Before you chauvinists and feminists protest, this goes for both genders. Rather than dickering over whose Starbucks frappuccino had the extra syrup and whipped cream, it’s much more practical (not to mention sexier) if one of you would just man or woman up and spring for the entire bill, tips and all.
Generosity of spirit is always an admirable trait, and paying for your date’s coffee order shows that you know how to share (and that you’re an adult who knows how to budget for such things). Plus, who wants to be with someone who constantly keeps a tally of what you two owe each other?
Also, please don’t ask the other person for a refund if your date didn’t go so well. Don’t be that guy.
And ladies, men like being taken out on a date from time to time, so don’t treat the guy like an ATM, especially when you two have been dating steadily for quite some time and you’ve got a job of your own.
10. Do remove your ad or profile from the site or the app once you have found your “perfect match.”
If your main goal was to find your lifelong partner and you managed to accomplish that, it really isn’t appropriate for you to maintain a profile on the dating website or app anymore. Not taking it down does a disservice to both your chosen partner and to the legions of other people on the website who are looking for someone available.
Going back to the topic of things remaining the same even as they change, it should be noted that while the means of communication and the methods of dating may differ between generations, some things should be kept sacred. Being honest and respectful, for instance, should always be in vogue, even after today’s hottest dating app has long ceased to be such.