February 9, 2017

Don’t be a Badly-Behaved Date: Online Dating Etiquette 101.

I have been sucked into the black of hole of texting with a potential date for the last time.

Online dating might have finally driven me to the brink of insanity.

Instead of being happily drunk on love, I am drunk on the fatigue of texting. If I ever met this guy in person, I’d surely ask him for a thumb massage.


Am I the only person who actually wants to hear someone’s voice or, worse yet, see them in person after they connect with me online?

Has social media—with its added layer of nuance, its projected false sense of self and actual connectedness—finally ruined us singles who are hoping to settle down?

I miss the days of my youth when a guy who was interested in meeting me had to pick up the phone, use a third party delivery system like a friend, or ask my parents if it was okay to go out with me. I know the latter is really old schoolbut one of my boyfriends actually did this when I was 18 years old and I thought it was awesome.

Today, this is all lost in the “Mad Max” world of digital dating.

I have had the experience of being both the dater and the coach. The rules of conduct are seemingly made up by a hodge-podge of daters’ experiences and professionals (like me) who help frustrated singles looking for a serious relationship in the world of dating.

With our inability to make a decision due to the other black hole of this crazy universe—too many singles to choose from–we collect people like trophies. We find ourselves with more options and accolades than we know what to do with. This can cause many of us who are looking for a serious relationship to feel overwhelmed. This can create inaction as well as non-committal, unfocused behavior, because there is always another waiting on the sidelines.

If we have a fear of being trapped in a relationship, these endless options can feel great and safe. For everyone else, the digital dating platform can be a nightmare.

We get caught up in the game of fleeting moments of interest that are filled with a whole lot of ego-fluffing “likes” and games of “catch me if you can” that never lead to a serious relationship. If we do actually make it to the first date, there is a good chance our date will either be on their phone the entire time, show up drunk, stoned or, if we are really “lucky,” un-showered. (Yes, I had a guy show up sweaty and sunburned on our first (and last) date after he spent eight hours on the golf course.)

There could be a way out of this Mad Hatter’s game for finding love online.

Those of us who want to be in a committed relationship need to get focused and set some codes of conduct that start with us.

First, we need to figure out why we are doing digital dating. What we are looking for? A hook-up? Friendship? Friends with benefits? Marriage? To win a popularity contest?

Being clear with our goals will help us to develop better dating navigation skills.

Second, we must be authentic and honest with ourselves and others as we fill out our profiles. I know, I know we look younger than we are and we are on a diet because we gained some weight over the holidays. There is only so much fibbing that can work if you actually intend to meet the person of interest, in person.

The profile set-up:

1. Limit the air brushing in your picture profile and keep pictures no less than six months old.
2. Be honest about your age (or as close to it as possible). There is a lot of ageism in online dating. Studies show people aren’t lying about their age because they care, they lie because they will be judged poorly for it. Ironic, considering we can’t control aging, everyone does it and the options to getting older are way worse. If we do fib about our age, limit it to three to five years and come clean on the first call or date.
3. Keep your interests current. If we haven’t hiked in over a decade, we are not avid hikers.

The first date set-up:

  1. Stop the texting madness: Limit the use of texts. Unending texts are a huge deterrent to authentically getting to know someone we’ve never met. Oversharing on texts with someone we’ve never met or asking personal questions is also risky.
  2. Be proactive: Pick up the phone. Hearing someone’s voice will tell us a lot about them and help us decide if we are a good match.
  3. Make plans: If the call goes well, set a date! In today’s dating world it doesn’t matter who asks to meet up, it’s a personal choice. (As a heterosexual woman though, I always appreciate when the man makes the first move.)
  4. No ghosting: Cancel in a timely manner if you have to and reschedule if you seriously want to meet.
  5. Be location mindful: Everyone has a different budget so choose the first get together at a reasonably priced location.

(Chivalry Alert! Heterosexual guys: be prepared to pay for the first date as many women feel this to be an act of chivalry. This doesn’t mean doing something unaffordable! Ladies, you should always be prepared to pay, regardless of what he does.)

The first date:

  1. Try to be authentic: Showing up as your authentic self, preferably on a non grumpy day, is really important if we are looking for a long-term commitment. Remember to share who you are, not just what you do.
  2. Be clean: A shower and clean clothes go a long way. Careful with over-using your favorite perfumes and colognes as smell is one of the top five turn-ons or offs!
  3. Be considerate and respectful: This is about more than opening doors and saying thank you. Ask questions about your new date, don’t assume you know them.
  4. Limit cell phone use: If you need to check the phone often because of family or work, tell your date about the emergency in advance or check it in the bathroom.
  5. Listen and blab equally: We are not here performing a Shakespearean soliloquy and pontificating like we do on Twitter. We are also not here to get a root canal. Engage with your date. Listening to what our date says is extremely important in deciphering who they are.
  6. Limit the booze: Understandably, many of us have anxiety about the first meet up, but being clear-headed is important for now. Showing up stoned or drunk to a date can impair what we see and hear.
  7. Converse mindfully: Unless it’s a topic that is a relationship deal breaker, try to keep the first date discussion topics safe and personal. Tread lightly by asking our new date how they feel about the polarizing topic we’d like to discuss first.
  8. No TMI: Oversharing on the first date can be scary or off-putting for many people. Reconsider telling someone about a pus-ridden eye sore (yes, that happened) on a first date.
  9. Stay on the same page: Compliment each other if you’re having a good time. Communicate!
  10. Check in: Touch base with each other throughout the date: How is the date going?

Ending the first date and hoping for a second?

  1. Paying the bill: Many people have issues around money. In general, everyone should be considerate and offer to pay or split the bill. What we do after that offer is a personal decision that can be made in the moment or before the meal begins.
  2. Chemistry: If you had a great time, don’t wait, ask them out again!
  3. First Kiss: There are no steadfast rules here, but it’s wiser to ask for that first kiss.
  4. Communicate: Stay engaged with each other between dates. Keep the communication going after the first date, even if you’re both busy!
  5. Be smart in love: Actions are more telling than words. Coming from a place of love, with your relationship goals in mind, see if the person you met is who they say they are as time goes on.

If we are seriously looking to share our love with another and desire to settle down in the age of digital dating, we need to be steadfast and focused in our path to finding it. There is a balance between the healthy games of flirtation and being poorly-behaved daters. If we are too busy to date, then we shouldn’t.

As the saying goes, first impressions are lasting impressions.



Author: Heather Dawn

Image: Maxpixel

Editor: Khara-Jade Warren 

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