Online Dating Etiquette

Online dating is very easy and convenient. You can meet people, talk to them, even if you sit in front of your computer in your pajamas and curlers in your hair.

But even if online dating takes out the pressure to dress to impress, this means you have to be extra careful about the way people can perceive the way you express yourself. Without realizing it, you can come across as rude or overbearing, simply because you forgot to take the caps lock as you typed. Or a simple joke may accidentally come across as offensive without the traditional “context clues” like body language or facial expressions. Take note of the following online dating etiquette:

• Be honest. It will be difficult to unravel the lies you make once you meet face to face. And having a reputation for being deceitful can spread among a dating site’s members, ruining your chances of anyone trusting you again.

• Don’t spill all your secrets right away. It can be uncomfortable for the other person to hear something very, very private about you even if you’ve only known each other for a short time. Besides, don’t you want to leave something to the imagination?

• Don’t be pushy about someone else’s personal information. Let them open up in their own time, and when they do, don’t spread it around or gossip behind their back. This may be an online relationship but you’re still dealing with real people with real feelings.

• Respect diversity. Online dating attracts many different types of people from different cultures and backgrounds. So no ethnic jokes, no religious jokes, no derogatory comments.

• Don’t lurk. This means tagging along a discussion, reading people’s messages, without contributing.

• Don’t type in all caps. It comes across as shouting.

• Don’t abbreviate. “Ur gr8, I lyk u” or even “ROTFWL” isn’t immediately or automatically decipherable. Remember that many people try online dating, and they may not be familiar with the codes and lingos. Plus, you don’t want other people think that you can’t spell or write. Type out the whole word, and be grammatically correct. This is all about making a good impression, right?

• Don’t sound desperate. If you come across too needy or eager for a relationship, you’ll scare away people or attract cyber-abusers (people who like tricking or playing around with their vulnerable victims). This includes using any user names that make you sound powerless or love-obsessed. (Would you go out with someone named Heartbroken?)

• Just to avoid confusion, pick a user name that is gender-specific.

Online dating can be a very rewarding and enjoyable experience if you follow simple rules of respect and sensitivity.