What is Internet Dating Etiquette? (with pictures)

Tricia Christensen

Internet dating is on the rise with well over 1,000 dating sites available online. Confusions about Internet dating etiquette have arisen, since this form of dating has gained in popularity. There are some definite Internet dating etiquette guidelines, which can help one navigate this new experience of trying to meet Mr. or Ms. Right.

Couples on a first date should moderate their alcohol consumption.
Couples on a first date should moderate their alcohol consumption.

Most importantly, one should be concerned with personal safety. Be certain to date a person several times online prior to exchanging information like phone numbers or before setting up a plan to meet. When one does set up a meeting plan, arrange to meet the person in a public place, preferably in broad daylight. If there is anything about the prospective date that makes you uncomfortable, don't hesitate to cancel or rearrange.

People who have met online often attend a movie as part of a first date because it allows them to get to know each other in a public area.
People who have met online often attend a movie as part of a first date because it allows them to get to know each other in a public area.

Just as in face-to-face dating, honesty is important. Internet dating etiquette suggests being truthful about what one looks like, actual interests, and actual age. Don’t post a picture that is twenty years old, where you are fifty pounds lighter. As well, don’t express interest in things that really are not interesting. For example, if one meets a hang-glider enthusiast but one is afraid of heights, don’t fake an interest in an activity in which one would never take part.

Some people meet dates on the internet.
Some people meet dates on the internet.

While Internet dating etiquette suggests being honest, one may be too honest. The first few Internet dates with a person should focus on getting to know the person. These are not the times to start rabid political diatribes, or campaign for the benefits of euthanasia. Keep topics light, but also garner enough information to see if Internet chemistry occurs.

Women often twirl their hair and look over their shoulders when they are flirting.
Women often twirl their hair and look over their shoulders when they are flirting.

If one has been on several Internet dates with a person and feels there is no chemistry, then send a short note. One should thank the other person for the dates and for his or her time, and express hopes for future success. One can then say that he or she feels the date is not a “match." Internet dating etiquette advises against dwelling on particulars, as these are not required in ending contact with a person.

Some people may video chat with dates before meeting in person.
Some people may video chat with dates before meeting in person.

One is not obligated to reply to a person requesting a date with which one has not had previous contact. Failure to reply should be taken as a definite negative on the possibility of an Internet date. Some people set up a form letter thanking people for their interest and politely declining a date. This is definitely good Internet dating etiquette, and may be applied. However it is not necessary to do this, as most people now recognize they have received a form letter refusal.

With internet dating etiquette, woman are not only allowed but encouraged to initiate in-person contact.
With internet dating etiquette, woman are not only allowed but encouraged to initiate in-person contact.

It is perfectly acceptable in Internet dating etiquette for either a man or woman to initiate a request for a date. In fact women are encouraged to initiate requests. However, anyone requesting a date should not take a failure to reply as an insult. The person may have many demands on their time, or they may have already found someone on whom to focus their attention. If a person expresses no interest in dating you, move on.

A great first date idea is meeting for a cup of coffee.
A great first date idea is meeting for a cup of coffee.

Just as in more traditional dating, Internet dating etiquette requires you to meet commitments. If a face-to-face meeting has been arranged, then it should be honored; Not showing up is very bad form.

Couples who meet through internet dating should refrain from being too affectionate too quickly.
Couples who meet through internet dating should refrain from being too affectionate too quickly.

Aside from a picture, your date has to judge you by the words he or she uses. Use spell-check if needed, although the occasional typo is acceptable. Also, as with meeting any new person, Internet dating etiquette suggests talking on subjects likely to interest one’s date. Read profiles of dates carefully, so one can say things like, “I saw on your profile you like to travel. What has been your best travel experience?” or “Do you travel outside the US or do you have particular states you like to visit?”

To ensure safety, first dates are best during the day in places where others are around.
To ensure safety, first dates are best during the day in places where others are around.

Not all Internet dates are successful. This is, however, no reason to use profanity in a date. Keep things light and polite. If a date is going very badly, or if the person one is dating is profane, making unwelcome suggestions for Internet sex, or is simply insulting, one can cut short a date. One can also cut off contact with a person who is deliberately rude without explanation. Internet dating etiquette certainly allows for one to “leave the room” essentially in the middle of a date if the person one is dating is harassing one. However, if the person one is dating is simply boring, then one should stay to the end of the date.

It's important to take the time and get to know someone who was met online in person.
It's important to take the time and get to know someone who was met online in person.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent EasyTechJunkie contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

Bakersdozen

@Potterspop - I can understand your worry about coming across people who are almost addicted to the constant stream of potential dates these sites provide.

You could always check someone's join up date. If they've been around a long time, but claim to want a long term relationship you'd be right to be suspicious.

Alternatively, why not check out an Internet dating agency? They seem to be geared towards more solid outcomes, though the dating tips here would still apply of course.

Potterspop

This is a great Internet dating guide. A must read for the growing number of older people who are looking for romance this way.

I am quite interested in trying it myself, though I worry that it is possibly a kind of hobby for some of the users. I'm too old for messing around and playing the field.

Valencia

Several years ago I went through a spell of Internet dating. A friend at the time was writing a research paper for a marketing course and I unwittingly became her main subject!

Her interest lay in how people marketed themselves, through photos, profile headlines and the usual 'about me' section. The key thing was of course was whether these matched the person they really were.

So for several weeks I searched in vain for a decent guy, while she lapped up my tales of woe. In the entire thing I never met anyone who looked anything like their picture, was within 5 years of their stated age range or who really had the hobbies and interests that had attracted me. Oh and two were married!

Funnily enough I met the love of my life in a supermarket the week after I quit online dating forever!

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