Dos and Don’ts of Online Dating

My apologies to those of you who really couldn’t give a damn about dating websites for writing another post on this, but honestly, it’s an absolute goldmine. This stuff just writes itself.

Don’t send someone a message that’s impossible for them to respond to. It’s all well and good being a bit cheeky and flirty, but I just couldn’t think of a response to: “I could teach you Portuguese J” other than ‘Oh haha… I’d really rather you didn’t though.’

Do put in enough quirky or interesting details on your profile so people will have something to write to you about. Everyone loves travelling and going to the pub. Put up something that will be an easy hook for someone to start a conversation with.

Don’t send someone a message saying: ‘I didn’t like X film you’ve put on your profile. Why did you like it?’ It feels instantly judgemental and puts me on the back foot. I don’t have a problem with you not liking it (although if you didn’t like The Lives of Others, I don’t know how to talk to you) but at least tell me why you weren’t sure about it so we can have a discussion, without me immediately feeling defensive.

Do reply quickly to people that you like. Obviously it doesn’t have to be within 30 seconds, but don’t leave them hanging, especially if they’ve asked you if you want to meet up. To leave it four days, then say ‘Oh sorry I was busy, I’d love to meet you’ doesn’t really make someone feel wanted.

Don’t wait a few days to respond to someone, and then use your batch of new rodents as the excuse for why you haven’t had time to write a message. By all means mention your new cute rodents if you really want to, but don’t say you couldn’t write because you were “spending time with them,” give a detailed description of their cage, toys, what they like and don’t like in said cage, and then round it off by asking where the other person lives and what is their favourite animal. STAY AWAY, RODENT MAN.

Do give another person space if they stop replying to you. It’s a fairly clear message, even if you’ve already had a date and you thought it went well. I’m in one awkward situation, because the reason I’ve stopped replying to one particular person is because this person made a subtle-as-a-brick attempt to get me back to theirs on the second date. So after giving it some thought I decided we weren’t well-matched, because he seemed like a bit of a twat. But I don’t want to tell him I’ve stopped replying because I thought his message was selfish, presumptuous and more than a little offensive, because I can be fairly certain of getting the: “Oh calm down dear, I didn’t mean it like that, obviously you wouldn’t have had to come back to mine if you didn’t want to, in fact it’s a bit arrogant of you to think that’s what I was saying, I just know a lovely reasonably-priced bistro there” kind of bullshit that makes me feel like it’s my fault that I felt disappointed and pissed off, not theirs. And I can’t be bothered with it. I’ve had it before and it sucks. I hate that this is the world we live in, where I’m the one that has to appear rude by no longer replying, but I don’t want to lie and I don’t want to get talked down to. So, if someone stops replying, respect their space even if it doesn’t make absolute sense to you.

Don’t be afraid of being a bit more specific about what you’re looking for. It’s very difficult because of course you don’t want to put people off, like one person did for me when their sole criteria for what they wanted was ‘someone with a bike.’ I mean, technically, I do have a bike, but I am the world’s worst cyclist. The last time I tried to ride a bike I rode into a tree, in my back garden, and the tree is well out of the way, behind a fence. He might be my perfect person but we’ll never know. On the other hand, maybe there’s someone who would also be great for him, but who also knows how to ride a bike properly. On balance, that person is probably the better match. There isn’t going to be only one person who’s a good fit. Don’t worry about being a little bit prescriptive.

Do double check what you’ve put on your profile. I looked back at mine and realised I’d put bowling as one of my favourite interests. I’ve been bowling once and it was about ten years ago. Thank goodness I haven’t had a bowling enthusiast try and talk to me thinking they’d found their dream partner.

Don’t use words so long in your profile that people have to reach for a dictionary. Don’t start by talking about beginners art classes, focal points, verisimilitude, and ‘coaxing out a portrait in the mental periphery.’ Eh? It’s profiles like this that have started making me use the website as a fun ‘spot the pretentious crap’ game where I just click on the most ridiculous profile names and see what nonsense is on their pages. This is probably not going to find me love.

Do get enthusiastic about the people who seem like they could be your new best friend. I have a habit of getting massively over-excited about people too quickly, and I think it makes people worry for me because the crash is difficult if things go wrong. But I don’t want to be turned into a cynical old stick by people. If I didn’t get stupidly keen over the people who seem nice, then I would be changing my own personality, and I might miss out on all the fun when things do go right. I’m sure I’ll get better at picking myself up when people disappoint me even if I carry on the way I am – and anyway, my Mum has developed a habit of sending me a little pair of earrings in the post to cheer me up whenever a guy turns out to be a waste of space. It makes it almost worth it.

2 thoughts on “Dos and Don’ts of Online Dating

  1. I, too, can get overly excited about a profile I’ve read that really resonates. I agree that it’s just our natural enthusiasm shining through. It’s okay to take a fall, and we’ve certainly had experience in the past with picking ourselves up and brushing ourselves off and going forward. I applaud your intrepid spirit, web-dating sister! I’m enjoying your writings about the maddening and fascinating experience of online dating.


  2. This is a great post. I recently wrote a similar entry (do’s and don’ts of online dating) but yours is very different from mine. . I like how you go into detail on how to conduct oneself when interacting with others online. Solid advice, awesome job!


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