Etiquette and Online Dating

Online Dating

What happened to blind dates?  Meeting at church, school, or other “real person” places?  

There are couples who meet via these methods every day.  But when fate needs a little push, or when you want to expand the dating pool a bit, there's always the internet! 

Online dating has become a popular way to meet a date – or a mate – in recent years.  A Pew Research study shows that 15% of adults in America have used websites or apps to find dates.  And 41% know someone who has. (Geiger, Livingston 2018)  

These days, instead of visiting a matchmaker who asks you a few questions before pulling out pictures of a potential sweetheart to set you up with, you can simply log on and click around.  Or open an app and swipe left or right.

What role does courtesy and kindness play in this scenario?  Has the evolution in dating methods caused etiquette rules to evolve as well?

An Honest Foundation

The foundation of proper etiquette is practicing kindness and respect.  Your practice of etiquette in online dating should include being honest from the beginning:

  • Know what you want and what your expectations are before signing up for a dating website.
  • Write a profile that tells the truth about you.
  • Post a recent picture that is a true reflection of you.
  • Know how to say “thanks, but no thanks” when necessary.
  • Participate in honest communication.

Research various sites and apps before joining one.  Some are geared to help those looking for serious relationships, while others are geared to help those simply looking for a fun date.

It’s important to remember that your profile and pictures are a substitute for the first impression you give when meeting someone in person.  Do they reflect the kind of person you are?

Etiquette-ful Online Dating

It’s very exciting when the real online dating begins.  You receive a message from someone, take a look at his profile, and decide if this is someone you want to communicate with.

Once you reply to a message, your online relationship begins!  Well, usually.  There are times when you may never receive further messages.  And other times when, after a few exchanges, things go silent.

While there is nothing you can do about someone's lack of courtesy, you know that etiquette-ful cyber-relationships include:

  • A quick "thanks, but no thanks" message when someone you're not interested in takes the time to message you first.  However, it is fine to ignore the winks, likes, and emojis if you're not interested.
  • If you've messaged someone, whether once or a few times, and then decide you're not interested, let that person know via the same communication method – but in a gentle, kind manner – that you'd prefer to move on.
  • There is a myth that one should wait before replying to a message so as not to look too eager or desperate.  This is fine, but don’t wait more than twenty-four hours to reply.

When Online Becomes IRL

So you've messaged a few times and your new someone sounds pretty interesting.  Next thing you know – it's time to go live!

The person may ask for your phone number to have a conversation with you.  Or, he or she may jump right in and ask to meet you in person.

Everything you wrote in your profile and message exchanges will now be put to the test.  The good news is, you have a reference from which to begin an interesting conversation.

Safety First

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that etiquette-ful online dating includes the usual safety precautions.  Just because you are showing courtesy to others doesn't mean you should overlook the courtesies you owe yourself!

Whenever you meet someone, you know instinctively if this is someone you will like or possibly be able to trust.  That little voice inside you is worth listening to!

Here is my list of safety precautions for dating:

  • If that place deep within you makes you feel any hesitation because of how someone communicates, speaks, or acts please find a way to leave.
  • Never give your address to someone you don't know very well.
  • Meet your date in a public place the first time or two you go out.
  • Tell a friend who you are seeing and where you will be before you go to meet your date.
  • Until you know for sure this relationship is for real, think with your head rather than your heart.  Always keep your wits about you!  You may need them.

The Bottom Line

Dating in the 21st century is tricky business.  But the bottom line is that each of us craves the companionship of a special someone, perhaps for life.

If love and marriage are what you want, know that there is someone out there for you.  I know this is true. 

But while you're waiting to find your partner for life, accept dating for what it is - a great adventure.  You can see a humorous take on this in a presentation from Amy Webb. 

And if you choose to mix online dating into your search for your someone, know that treating everyone you meet with courtesy, kindness, and respect is a very attractive quality.

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