For guys and gals looking for love, it’s a brave new world out there. Yes, you can still meet your potential Mr. or Ms. Right in clubs, at the workplace, or through friends. But with texting, tweeting, and Facebook now being very much a part of our lives, online dating and romancing has become the new norm. And as with everything new, this phenomenon brings with it its own set of challenges.
What comprises the new dating “netiquette” or acceptable online behavior? Is texting to invite someone out – or break up a relationship – too cold and impersonal? Or is it simply the new normal? How do you ensure that expectations are met when you and your online date finally meet face to face? And while there’s lots of fish in the digital sea, how do you weed out the undesirables and stay safe and secure? The following tips might help:
Update The Rules for the Digital Age
In 1995 Sherrie Schneider and Ellen Fein wrote this best-selling dating bible. Their premise: Women should play hard to get. Today, Fein and Schneider still stand by their “boy should pursue girl” rule. Their advice for (women) Internet daters: Never initiate contact (let the guy text, email, or Facebook first). Never answer a text until at least four hours later. Keep your online responses short and sweet. Confirm a guy’s Friend request only one or two days later – never immediately. Don’t constantly post updates about your daily routine – and for sure, don’t post on a guy’s page. The point of all this: You’ve got a life. You’re too busy. Leave them wanting more.
Yes, do provide pictures, but…
Heard of “what you see is what you get”? Online dating can be risky business. So before you post your picture (It’s only fair that prospective dates see what they each look like, no?), consider these issues: How much do you trust him or her (a total stranger) with your photo? How much do you and the other person value appearances? Do you see the other person as someone with whom you can have fun – or have a more serious relationship (this could affect the type of picture you send)? Should you post a picture of the real you, Photoshop your pic, or send a completely fake photo? Again, fun vs trust. Determine what you want to achieve in sending your picture.
Post genuine information
Even if you’re in it just for the fun, truth and trust do matter. So, yes, when it comes to your online dating profiles, honesty is still the best policy. State your correct age and weight (if you MUST stretch the figures, do not subtract too much, and own up to the truth in later communications or on your first date). Provide your occupation, where you were born and raised, favorite activities, and what you’re looking for in a prospective relationship. If you are a smoker you might want to take another look at e-cigarettes which provide a pleasurable alternative to smoking without the ash and the odor. Due to their many benefits, e-cigarettes are a dater’s best friend.
Communicate with care
In a platform where no one can see you, you ARE what you say! And your text, tweet, or Facebook post can spark OR kill a romance. So besides using spell-check, take the following tips to heart: In your initial missive, don’t sound creepy, whiny, or gushy…eccentric, robotic or psychotic…and, yes, even stupid. If you’re already dating and communicating online, think before you push the SEND button – every time.
An angry or nasty email cannot be taken back – and can be shared with the whole world by a vengeful date. As for responding to a date’s text or tweet – or waiting for someone to respond to yours – most experts agree that one should expect a response time of between one to four hours. But even longer than that shouldn’t mean the end of the world. People do have lives.
Weed out the undesirables
This you can do by engaging those who respond to your message and asking them questions about themselves. And when they reply, watch out for red flags such as rants, insults, gossip, sexual innuendos, or other inappropriate remarks. Experts say that it takes only a couple of comebacks to reveal a person’s mentality. Some people show their true colors in their responses – delete those who show evidence of violence, drug use, or otherwise unsavory backgrounds. And on your part, remember that the internet is no place for personal information.
Breaking up is hard to do – especially online
There is a hard and fast rule. Nothing to do with technology. Everything to do with human decency. Don’t end relationships or even cancel date plans via text or email. It might be a celebrity habit. But it’s never right for the rest of us. Go ahead, Skype, phone, or see your significant other in person. Don’t run the risk of being misunderstood or, worse, being callous to the other person’s feelings. As for your Facebook relationship status – talking to each other first before changing it is always the right thing to do.
While scammers, security risks, and online predators will always be with us, online dating has numerous benefits. Because almost everyone is online, you’re casting a wider net for finding romance. You can save time and weed out those who don’t meet your requirements, thanks to the many top quality online dating sites. You can take your time building a relationship and determining compatibility before taking the relationship to the next, more serious offline level. And of course, online – rather than in-person – rejection from a date will probably be easier to take.
Follow the tips above and make your online dating efforts a success!