Online Dating - The Etiquette

October 6, 2020
Online Dating Etiquette

With millions of people around the world using online dating sites, a whole new etiquette has emerged.

It used to be that kids would talk about 'first base' and 'second base' - but how do you make a smooth transition from a flirty chat with an attractive guy or girl, into actually meeting and going on a real live date?

And how do you cope with the awkwardness if said date happens, and doesn't work out, but you keep popping up in each other's recommended matches?

Here are some tips and advice from the Best10 dating team about how to make the most out of your online dating experiences!

1. Don't pester for a response

It's easily done; you're having a friendly chat, things get a little steamy and then... the other person disappears?! Here's how to handle it:

  • Don't send repeated messages demanding a reply.
  • Never 'bump' a message by sending a '?'.
  • Give them a few hours to respond.

You have to remember that online dating apps work on a mobile or tablet. 

So, while you might be sitting at home having a great time, the person you're chatting to might have just finished their lunch break (or been caught flirting on a dating site!), so it's not reasonable to expect an instant reply.

Nothing screams turn-off than someone who starts to get rude and antsy when they don't get lots of attention, so keep your cool, and wait patiently.

2. Make yourself visible 

Most people on dating sites are real, authentic folks looking for love, romance, or maybe a sexy fling. However, we all know that bots, spammers and fakers do exist, and aren't pleasant to experience.

If your chats have been going on a while, connect on other social media platforms, or verify each other's names, so you both have confidence that you are who you say you are.

The first date can be quite daunting, but if you're connected on Facebook or Instagram, as two examples, it makes everyone feel more comfortable.

3. Wait a Week or Two For a Date

Here it is - if you've met someone online you like, and I mean really like, you also need to remember that relationships take time.

Expecting to meet up today isn't going to happen (unless you're on a hookup site, in which case off you go!).

Usually, people seeking a real relationship spend around two weeks chatting online before they meet up for a date. In some cases, and particularly for long-distance relationships, that timescale can become significantly longer.

Take your time, get to know a bit about each other, and don't jump on an international flight to meet someone you just started chatting to 24 hours ago!

4. Move On If It Doesn't Work Out

It can feel horribly embarrassing if you thought you'd found something, but it fizzles out. But hey, you don't need to cancel your subscription, hide, or make a big deal about it.

If you find a previous connection in your contact suggestions, click no and that's that.

Don't forget that being online is very different to being in person - the other person might never know you saw their profile again, and will likely do the same if yours pops up.

5. Don't Make Assumptions

Not everybody on an online dating site is looking for marriage. Likewise, not everyone wants a no-strings sexual relationship.

If you're on a niche dating site (like a Christian dating platform, or a senior singles website), then it might be more clear cut. 

But still, don't assume just because you have a mutual like with somebody else that you've both got the same relationship aspirations.

  • Take it easy, and feel it out as you would with any other new acquaintance. You don't need to discuss kids, your attitudes to marriage or your long-term life goals to decide whether a first date is worth the effort.
  • Don't ever assume a contact wants to meet - they could just be being polite, so you should always ask the question and accept the answer if it's a no.
  • Decide together where to meet, and when. Meeting a person you've met online can be nerve-wracking, so it's essential you are both comfortable and happy with the plan.

6. First Date Safety

It's always worth being extra-cautious when meeting somebody for the first time in person. 

Even if you've verified they are genuine, are friends on multiple social media platforms and have been chatting for weeks; it's still wise to play it safe!

  • Meet somewhere public and open.
  • Tell a friend where you're going.
  • Plan your own transport and know how you're getting home.
  • Agree in advance where to meet, and at what time.

Transport is a big one - you don't want to rely on a bus service, find out your date is not so nice in person, and then be stuck for a way to make a swift exit!

Drive, book a taxi, have a friend pick you up; just make sure you haven't called off a date and left yourself stranded, or even worse, are reliant on the failed date to run you home.

7. Be Honest

We've all been there - you get a message request from someone who seems lovely but doesn't make your heart beat faster. But they seem so sweet, and you don't want to hurt their feelings, so you carry on a chat even though you have zero interest in dating them.

Trust me, don't do that.

It feels cruel to say no, but it's far better to let someone know they're not entirely your type than to lead them down the garden path (albeit with the best of intentions) only to crush their feelings when you say you're never going to meet up.

8. Don't Take it Personally

And, leading on from how to let someone down gently, the same thing may well happen to you.

We can't all be everybody else's cup of tea, so if you spend any time online dating, it's pretty likely you'll find someone you like, who doesn't feel the same way.

Don't take it to heart (and remember they only see a tiny snapshot of who you are, so it's not intended as a character assassination!) - move along, and better luck next time.

Happy dating!

Lauren Edwards-Fowle
Lauren is a freelance writer passionate about how we develop rewarding experiences, and overcoming the barriers we face to living our best lives. Lauren writes regularly about the modern world of dating, relationships, parenthood, and social dynamics.