So, you’ve finally made the decision to join millions of singles by jumping into the internet dating pool. That decision alone can prove daunting, but now you are faced with a whole new set of rules regarding dating in the virtual realm. Most dating sites give their users tips for navigating the world of cyber dating, but just to get started with some basic rules for online dating etiquette, I contacted Reverend Dr. August Abbott, an etiquette specialist, and she shared the first five rules which are based on honesty. Her advice stressed remaining true to yourself. She stated that in a virtual world you may be tempted to present yourself as you wish you were. Online etiquette is based on “real world” etiquette, and as such, the last five rules are based simply on common courtesy.
1) Be honest without revealing too much. For example, if you were arrested as a young adult for drunk driving, you would not want to reveal that in your profile. However, if you were just released from prison after serving a significant amount of time, that might be something you need to tactfully address.
2) Do not lie about your appearance. If you are 5’2″ tall and 200 pounds, don’t represent yourself as 5’6″ weighing 120. Again, be honest by including a few recent, clear photos including a fully body shot, and if you feel uncomfortable revealing your weight leave it out. Everyone carries weight differently and the number on the scale doesn’t always give a true picture of a person’s body shape or figure, while a photograph usually does.
3) Be positive and complimentary when mentioning friends or family members. Being negative or critical of those in our personal lives can give potential dates the impression that you are a bitter, unhappy person and make them steer clear of you.
4) Honor your word. If you say that you will get back to someone later, call them or meet them at a certain time, be sure to do so. Never promise too much, however, because you don’t want to be unable to deliver.
5) Just as in life, save discussions concerning sex, religion or politics until you know the person really well. Discussing subjects about which you hold strong opinions is not a good idea. Keep conversations light, neutral and free of potential conflict during the first few contacts.
6) Remember that these are real people with real feelings and emotions. Online dating is not a game; don’t sign up on a dating website unless you are truly interested in finding a relationship.
7) Never use foul or discourteous language, make lewd suggestions or engage in sexual innuendos. It is inappropriate and inconsiderate.
8) No sexting ever, under any circumstances. It is not only extremely inappropriate, but if reported, it may possibly get you kicked off the website altogether.
9) Don’t just disappear. If you have established contact with someone and you ultimately decide they are not the one for you, or you meet your soul mate while exchanging emails with another party, let the person know with a polite email that you will no longer be communicating with them.
10) In all of your encounters, just remember to be respectful, polite and courteous. It is easy to forget that there are actual human beings behind those virtual profiles, but they are real people just like yourself who are kind, caring, vulnerable and looking for love.