In the last several years, online dating has become a fairly popular activity in the Western world.
But why not, right?
There are literally hundreds of potential dates available to you at the click of a mouse.
And it’s like being out at the bar, except that you can log on without being exhausted at work the next day.
Thanks to dating profiles, everyone has a good idea of what everyone else is looking for, and, best of all, your prospective mates won’t know that you’re wearing a flannel onesie as you exchange messages!
Online dating, the dos and the don’ts
Whether you’ve been a member of a dating site for a few years now, or have just created an account, you’ve probably noticed that online dating isn’t exactly like dating in the “real world.”
Real-world dating and online dating do share some similarities, since the reasons for participating in either are generally the same.
But there are some specific rules of etiquette you’ve got to follow when you’re talking to and meeting up with virtual strangers.
If you’re able to keep in mind these dos and don’ts of online dating as you test the waters with various guys and gals, you will dramatically reduce your chances of having to escape from a lunatic, or causing your date to take out a restraining order on you. [Read: 13 tips for a happy and perfect blind date]
The 7 dos of online dating
If you want your online dating experience to be a good one, make sure you keep these 7 tips in mind. They’re simple and easy, but these tips are the difference between a happy experience and a painful one!
#1 Meet in a public place. The person you’re talking to on the other side of your computer, tablet, or cell phone screen may seem trustworthy, but you actually have no idea if they are or not. Even if they don’t end up being an axe murderer, it will be much easier to ward off any unwanted sexual advances if you meet them in public! [Read: Top 50 awesome first date ideas to wow your date]
#2 Tell a friend or family member where you’re going. This is important for women to do, but it’s also important for men *a few women can be dangerous and creepy too*.
If you have a feeling that your date may end up being a bust, you can pull the old trick of asking your friend to call you after an hour with an “emergency.” [Read: How to end a date – The good, bad and the ugly way!]
#3 Use your own transportation. Don’t allow your date to pick you up, as this will leave you at the mercy of a total stranger, who may end up being smarmy. If you don’t have your own car, pick a meeting place you can easily get to on foot or by bicycle, bus, or taxi.
#4 Bring money. Even if you’re a woman, you need to be prepared to pay your own way. Many men believe that the man should always pay for dates, and some women will volunteer to foot the bill if they’ve asked out a man.
But there are some online daters who believe that it’s “every person for themselves” on the first date, since neither party really knows each other yet. You may not know what type you’re meeting before you go, so make sure you have some cash or a credit card on hand. [Read: 14 signs you’re ruining your first date without even realizing it!]
#5 Pay attention to hygiene. The fact that this even needs to be mentioned may surprise you, but on various online forums, you will find many stories about dates who have shown up in dirty clothes, with unbrushed hair, or reeking of body odor.
Don’t be one of those people, even if you happen to work at a messy job. Not only will you have little chance at a second date, you may be made fun of on the internet! [Read: The 10 biggest dating turn offs for women]
#6 Be polite if your date doesn’t look like what you expected. Getting mad and walking out is acceptable if you expected to see a woman and a man shows up, or if your date is 400 pounds while in their pictures, they looked 120.
However, don’t be annoyed about the little changes. We all take our pictures on our best days, and on the day of the meeting, your date may not be having theirs. If they have a pimple that wasn’t present in their photos, their stomach looks a little less toned, or they have a slightly different haircut, don’t immediately write them off. [Read: 13 physical attraction tips to look way hotter instantly!]
#7 Thank your date for a good time. One of the worst things you can experience after a date is being left hanging, not knowing whether the other person will ever talk to you again. Some people think that since they don’t know their online dates very well, that gives them a free pass to just disappear.
However, you have to avoid doing that, as you really don’t know when or where you’ll come across them next. Even if you’re not interested in another rendezvous, call or text your date a thank-you the next day. If you decline a requested second date, they may get annoyed at first, but eventually, they’ll be glad you were upfront with them. [Read: When should a guy call after a first date?]
The 7 don’ts of online dating
While the dos of online dating can ensure that you have a great time during the date, without risking anything after the date, this list of 7 don’ts can help you enjoy a better dating experience, and make a great first impression!
#1 Chat online for months before meeting. Sometimes, often unintentionally, the persona that an individual presents online is different from their personality in the real world. If your romantic interest is a big talker online, but is actually shy in public, you’d prefer to find that out sooner than later, wouldn’t you?
There are few things more devastating than talking to a person on the internet for ages, building up a friendship and a fantasy of what you think they’re like, and then having your dreams dashed when you finally meet them. [Read: The 11 biggest dating turn offs for men]
#2 Agree to go to a guy or girl’s home on the first date. This goes back to #2 in the dos of online dating. Under most circumstances, you’ll have no real idea whether your date is trustworthy. Going to their house not only increases the chances of danger, but also increases the odds of something sexual happening.
Even if both parties have fun, first-date sex often comes with negative consequences *such as the other person suddenly dropping off the face of the earth* that you’re better off not dealing with. Be patient! If the sex is going to be great, it’ll be just as great on the third date or later. [Read: Kissing on the first date – Is that a Yes or a No?]
#3 Send indecent pictures before meeting. While it’s understandable that some people like to exchange sexy pictures with a significant other, do NOT send them to people whom you’re just talking to online.
Once again, you don’t really know these people. They may immediately text your provocative selfie to one of their friends, or post it on a popular website like Facebook or Twitter. You certainly don’t want to come across it, in all its glory, the day before an important job interview.
#4 Bring friends, family members, or pets to a date. Unless you’ve made some double-dating arrangement, your date is coming to meet you, not your best friend, your mother, your child, or your dog. Of course, there are some exceptions, such as if your date is taking place at a dog park, but generally, it should involve just the two of you.
If you’ve got children and you’re unable to get a sitter, you’re likely too tied up at the moment to date at all. If you want a friend to come along for safety reasons, get them to hang out nearby, but not with you. [Read: 12 signs to know whether it’s a date or you’re just hanging out]
#5 Be late. It’s incredibly annoying to wait around for someone who’s not punctual. If you’re late, this shows that you don’t value your date’s time. Plus, they may think you’re not showing up, and leave before you get a chance to meet them.
#6 Wear revealing clothing. Even if you think you’d like to hook up with your date at some point in the near future, leave something to the imagination. Guys, don’t show up shirtless, even if it’s the summer! And girls, don’t let all your cleavage hang out!
Wearing an outfit that shows too much skin will make a male or female date think that you’re just a piece of meat, and people tend to get bored with one piece of meat pretty quickly. [Read: 25 biggest dating deal breakers for women]
#7 Barrage your date with messages afterward. While it’s nice to thank your date for a good time, don’t blow up their phone or inbox with frequent messages. If you’re constantly trying to talk to them, they may tire of you, and may even start to see you as clingy, which is one personality trait that can cause a budding relationship to head nowhere fast.
Oddly enough, online dating is a lot like interviewing for jobs, each dater has tons of “applicants” to choose from, and it can be hard to make just one choice!