This story was updated in February 2019.
When the dot-com bubble hit us, online dating was one of the major things that changed the game. With it came the acceptance of hook-ups, blind dates and even one night stands. With the appearance of tiny apps on your smartphone that set you up with your 'right match', the whole dating scenario has experienced a dramatic shift in the last decade.
Online dating and real-life dating may have certain similarities but they are poles apart. You don't know who you're dealing/interacting with. It could be a psychopath or even your knight in shining armour. If you've created a profile and want to try your hand at it, here are some DOs & DON’Ts and rules for online dating you must know of to make the experience better. Read on!
You will never get a second chance to make your first impression. On dating apps, your picture and your profile do the talking for you. You have just a few moments to show yourself off and setting the right profile picture and bio are the basic ingredients to get that recipe right.
While there are no universal laws, there are a few guidelines that govern the fabled square. All this is simpler than you think. So, here are the etiquettes to keep in mind when setting up your profile picture.
Everyone has that one party picture where they are looking absolutely smashing. The problem is that it’s over two years old and does nothing to show how you look right now. Select photos are that are not older than a year old.
These days there are options to add more than one picture. This means you can show more aspects of your life and interests, and you should take full advantage of that.
If you are looking to go out, you literally need to show yourself out there. Make sure that you are clearly visible in the pictures and there is nothing obstructing you. Sunglasses may make you look cool, but they also end up masking one of the most beautiful things about you - your eyes!
This one cannot be recommended enough. There is nothing pleasing in seeing someone from a high angle or as a reflection in a mirror. If you don’t have any recent pictures, just as a friend or someone at home to click one of us on your way out. In the end, it’s a little sincerity that we all crave.
People want to see you and not your photo editing skills on your profile picture. A few tweaks, like colour corrections and adding a little brightness, are okay. However, adding multiple filters or layering it with too many graphics are a strict no-no.
Perhaps the worst crime you can commit is not being truthful. It may be tempting to push that number in the age column down a little, but in the end, you’ll just be lying to yourself. More significantly, it’s never recommended lying about your job. Ever.
The chat window on a dating app is a great leveler. One wrong move and no matter whether you are Brad Pitt or Shah Rukh Khan, you are going to be shown the door. Once your profile is out there and you have a match, there are quite a few online etiquettes that everybody needs to be aware of. Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts you need to follow on your pre-date chats.
If you send "Hey", chances are you wouldn't get a reply. Channel your witty and quirky side and send a message that would want them to revert. And above all, install Grammarly, a free spell checking service, on your device. Trust me, when you're trying to flirt, you don't want to send typos.
Don't act too pricey and make them wait for too long. Chances are you'll make them lose interest in talking to you. Don't take more than a day to get back to them if you want to take it forward.
Be nice to them and sensitive towards their feelings. Don't say things that would hurt them or things you wouldn't say to them in person. Control your tongue and keep the humour subtle and less sarcastic.
It is great to get to know someone after you have matched with them online. You constantly want to answer or ask a question. That’s a good thing, to a point. The last thing you need is your phone buzzing at every random second and the notification bar pilling up with unread messages. On the other hand, it’s never recommended to take an age to reply. Remember that your match’s time is important too and there are other people they may choose to talk to if you miss your chance.
It's always good to know the person before you let them in. Don't rush into exchanging numbers too soon. Interact with them, let conversations fall into place before they come to your place.
The online world does help you ghost your identity but you must never base a relationship on lies. Be who you are and tell them the truth about yourself. Don't pretend to be someone, just so they would like you.
Everyone gets busy and work is inescapable. However, it is always appreciated if you can take out time and drop in a message. It shows that you are doing your part and making an effort to get to know the person despite everything else going around. Trust me, all this goes a long way.
This is not a business encounter, nor an email you would be sending over Linkedin. Neither is this a matrimonial website where you dish out your bio like an emcee narrates a boxer’s profile before a fight. There are plenty of generic conversations and common interests the two of you can discuss. If you run out of topics, you can always keep a few at the back of your head after a quick Google search.
It's a big turn off if you hit on them before knowing them at all. Using cheesy, cheap and regular pick-up lines will disgust them and might even get you blocked. Refrain from creeping them out.
Your job is done after you've initiated the conversation. Wait for their reply for at least a day before sending a reminder text. Don't bombard them with too many messages and smother them. Live and let live.
Neither do you know them completely nor where they're coming from. So, abstain from passing comments or being judgemental. Give them a fair chance to express themselves. Try to give them the comfort to share things with you.
They don't mean to hurt you intentionally. Seldom there can be a difference of opinion. Don't jump to conclusions and snap at them before knowing the whole story. Also, avoid taking things too personally.
You must always know what you're getting into. Take your own sweet time to know the person well enough before making any plans to meet them in-person. Take things slow. Don't rush into it. Decisions must never be taken in haste.
Your information is not safe online - no matter how much an app insists it is. Don't share messages or pictures you're not comfortable showing your friends and family.
Not everyone you chat with is looking to hook-up. Refrain from sending any obscene messages. It is almost an assault on the person you are texting to send them a message asking to come over after the first hello or worse - sending a picture of your private parts. Just keep them away because no one wants to see it.
Here’s something that will most likely flush your chances of getting a date. Toilet humour can significantly lower the level of conversation and may indicate that you have poor tastes. It is something that is definitely avoidable.
The only person you should be chatting money with over texts is your personal banker. Talking about your salary or what you did with it last month might interest a tax collector if you are wrongly declaring your income, not the person on your dating app.
You should refrain from asking anything private or personal in the first few chats. It’s just been a few days since you e-met them. They should not become your closest confidant straightaway. Try and avoid sentences that start with, ‘can I tell you a secret?’.
After a while conversing online, you guys finally agree to go out on a date. However, your online dating etiquettes do not end here. Even before you meet your date at the restaurant or movie theatre in Delhi, Mumbai or anywhere else, there are a few things to keep in mind right. They begin right from the time you guys to go out, till the time you bid your goodbyes for the day.
Read on to know all the DOs and DON’Ts you need to keep in mind when going out on your first date with your online match.
Select a location that is relatively close to both you and your date. Place your suggestions while chatting about the outing, see what you date prefers and try and reach a middle ground. Ideally, you could go to a nice cafe with low music that allows for good conversations. It’s always a safe bet.
If you promised to show up at a particular time, make sure you stick to it. Both your date and you must have agreed on meeting a few days earlier. That would have given you both an equal amount of time to arrange your schedules and see what time fits. Unless there is an emergency or traffic congestion, being late is always a bad sign.
As important as your phone was in getting you the date, it should be left in your pocket or in the bag after you reach the venue. Glancing at your phone after every passing minute is a sign that you are disinterested. Moreover, it is never a good idea to take out your phone to Instagram every food dish that passes by.
You have fixed a time and place and have already texted the other person that you will them there. There is no need to keep pinging every hour reminding them of the same. It will deflate the excitement of meeting the person.
It’s good enough that your few close friends and work colleagues know your whereabouts. There is no need to put up Instagram or Facebook stories about your date, the place you are meeting or the food you ordered.
Another mistake a lot of people commit is going over the date all over again on the chat window. It’s okay to reminisce on the best moments that stood out for the both of you, but there is really no need to recall how exact details of your arrival time, the softness of the chair cushions or the number of times your waiter refilled your glasses. TMI!
The dating rules and online dating etiquettes do not end after your first date. All upcoming online conversations and outings with your match demand the same effort and chivalry (if not more) like the first one. So, it is really important that you know the DOs and DON’Ts to follow if you are looking to meet the person again.
The three-day rule is obsolete in this current day and age. Pinging the person the day following the date shows your interest in them and that you are looking forward to meeting them again. So, don’t hesitate to drop in a quick hi.
You should maintain the same amount of honesty as you did when you first started talking to your match. In fact, online conversations after your first date give you the opportunity to be even more honest with the other person.
The online dating etiquettes apply to the first time you start talking to a person, the second, the third, right on till the end of time. Respecting the other person online and offline and knowing your boundaries should be encoded into your DNA.
There may be occasions where you had a nice first date, but you might not have clicked with the person. You may have different interests or are looking for completely different things. In such a scenario, try to express yourself as soon as possible. Delaying such conversations will only lead to more confusions and leave your date hanging.
You can always ask the question, but if the answer is a no, don’t follow up with the what’s and why’s. It may come across as trying too much, and no one likes that. It could wash away all the credibility from your first date.
If you guys have exchanged numbers and decided to chat over WhatsApp and move on from the dating window, stick to it. If the other person doesn’t reply there, do not go back to your dating app and leave a message there. Give your partner sometime. Everyone is busy after all. Being a ghost and haunting all their messaging windows is a serious turn-off.
Online dating is unique and does take a bit of time to get right. If you follow these rules and promise to be honest with yourself and whoever you match with, it can become a great way to make friends, get to know people and even find your soulmate. Have fun!