Were Emily Post alive today, you can guarantee her writings would have covered the topic of how to conduct oneself when looking for love online.
Following in her footsteps, here’s a list of the most essential online dating etiquette, from profile creation to post-date contact.
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The profile picture
Nudity and underwear are both off-limits (or most definitely should be), and images with your ex should be avoided at all costs. Although you absolutely should disclose whether you have children or grandchildren, pictures of them are inappropriate. Make sure your profile photo reflects you.
Once you make a match and start a conversation, avoid asking overly personal questions about finances, politics, religion or family history. Should your online communication turn into something more, these things will be revealed in time, but initial conversation should focus on discovering whether there’s a spark and conversation flows easily.
Being overtly flirtatious is inappropriate for your very first conversation, but if you hit it off and things are going well, don’t feel like you have to hold yourself back. Should you feel your initial flirtation isn’t reciprocated, stop – no one likes to feel pressured or harassed. Similarly, if someone says something that you think is inappropriate or that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to let them know you don’t appreciate it.
There are no hard and fast rules about when a first date should occur. As a general guide, a week or so of fairly consistent back-and-forth conversation should be enough for you to get a sense of whether your match has the right intentions and is worth meeting face-to-face.
The first date
Once the topic of meeting up has been broached, choose a public and busy location that’s central to both parties and agree on a time that doesn’t inconvenience either of you. When the day of your first date comes, go in with an open mind, expect to split the bill and see where the conversation takes you. Read our first date conversation tips.
Your days of game playing are (hopefully) long behind you, so if you feel the first date went well and you hit it off, don’t be afraid to follow up the next day to let your match know. Being communicative only turns into harassment when you persistently call, text and/or email and get no reply. If you’re on the receiving end of a follow-up and don’t care for a second date, the most polite thing you can do is simply respond and explain that you’re not interested.
Just like real-world dating, the rules of online dating are rarely set in stone. Feel out situations, trust your instincts and, when in doubt, ask a friend you trust for a second opinion.
Up to speed on your etiquette? Find out how to win at online dating with our handy guide.
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