Just as online dating fundamentally changed how we meet people, so too did it change some of the basic precepts associated with dating etiquette. Yes, etiquette — not just because we live in a digital society does it mean that we must all act like digitized neanderthals. (our apologies to all neanderthals in our readership)
There is still value and merit to be found in adhering to a quasi-codified collection of polite social norms and rules for interactions — even when they take place online. For you neanderthals out there, that means that there is a way that you are expected to act when interacting on dating sites. Not only will it make you appear more appealing, but more importantly, it will also increase your chances of actually getting laid. With that said, let’s take a look at ten things you should know about this thing that modern homo sapiens call “online dating etiquette.”
1- Keep it Real
No, we don’t mean that you should communicate with potential matches by using modern urban slang. We mean that it is important to be honest, sincere and realistic in the way that you present yourself in your dating profile. Don’t purport to be something that you are not. Use recent profile pictures. Accentuate your attributes, but don’t lie about them.
This should also extend to your stated intentions on the dating site. If you are only interested in casual encounters — be truthful about it. There are plenty of people out there that share your desire. Don’t falsely lead-on someone that is interested in something long-term just to quench your short-term thirst.
2- 24-Hour Rule for Replying
When you receive a message from a prospective match that interests you, make it a point to reply within 24 hours. It is very inconsiderate to leave people waiting longer that.
3- Frequency of Messages
Yes, we are all connected 24/7 to this thing that the youngsters call the “cyber-web,” but that does not mean that we can always respond instantaneously to every message. When you send a message to someone on a dating site allow them three to four hours to respond. If they do not respond in that time frame then it’s acceptable to send a follow-up message. If after two follow-ups they still do not answer, then you should assume that: a) They were eaten alive by a pack of rabid raccoons – or – b) They are just not into you — their loss, move on.
4- Letting People Down Politely
“But what if I am not interested in the person messaging me?” you may be asking. Just because the internet offers you a veneer of anonymity does not mean that you should be crass or rude. If you receive a message from someone, you should be flattered that they find you worthy of their attention. If you are not interested in them, you should still respond to their message within the 24-hour rule. Tell them that you are flattered but that you do not feel that you are compatible. You can also simply thank them for the attention and state that you are not interested. By not responding at all, the silence can be more offensive than the truth.
5- Do Not Become a Pest
Following up on tip number four — if someone is not interested in you DO NOT become an online pest. If you are rejected do not send further messages. There are plenty of other people online. Also, you run the risk of getting banned from the site that you are on if you become too insistent.
6- NO Unsolicited Nude Photos
Please, for all that is sweet and dear in this universe, DO NOT send another fellow user on a dating site unsolicited nude pictures of yourself. It is at best in bad taste, at worst it can be extremely offensive.
7- Don’t Ask for Nudes
Just as you shouldn’t send unsolicited nudes, you also shouldn’t ask for nudes. Before you start feeling all sad and disillusioned, don’t worry, there will be some chats when the sharing of nudes will occur. This, however, must always happen out of a mutual accord and neither side should ever feel pressured to do so.
8- Always Post at Least One Profile Picture
Let’s be honest, we are all visual creatures. It is rude to hide your physical appearance from someone that you are trying to attract. For this reason, always have a picture posted on your profile.
9- Write Legibly
When you message a friend, you have more liberty in the way that you construct your messages. While that might be acceptable to people that you know; when you are trying to impress someone new, you should take your message construction a bit more seriously. Think of it this way. If you’re just hanging out at your place with a friend, shorts and a t-shirt are perfect. If you’re trying to hook up at a club, you’d probably choose a more appreciate piece of attire.
Likewise, when you are chatting online with a prospective match you should be more cautious about spelling and grammar. You want the person on the other side of the conversation to understand what you are saying. You also want to impress upon them that you actually have some honest to goodness book learnin’ in your background.
10- No Past Baggage
Remember, you’re on a dating site, not your psychologist’s couch. When you start chatting with someone on a dating site you want to keep the mood fun and forward looking. Trust us, nobody wants to hear about how you were wronged by your ex and their 17 cats.
—Some Final Advice —
The best advice that we can give you, aside from the tips mentioned above, is to use your common sense. Never use the fact that you are shielded by the internet as an excuse to deviate from common decency. If in doubt, apply the same rules of etiquette that you would apply in the real world. You do still remember the real world, right? It is that thing that takes place outside, with the real people — remember?