Couple Enjoying the Beach

Online Dating Etiquette

Online protocol is defined as manners, accepted behavior, rules of conduct, decorum, good practice, the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.  Our group for this discussion is new friends and relationships that are online and just as the rules in face-to-face contact are changing so too are the rules of etiquette changing for online dating.  We all wish to believe that the thread of the Golden Rule still prevails in society whether online or not.

Honesty is not a rule.  It’s a quality that embodies integrity, honor, morality, ethics, principles, goodness, truthfulness, trustworthy, sincerity and is a lifestyle.  The best friendships, relationships and loves all have honesty as their base qualities.  It does not matter what we meet offline or online we all must earn the trust and integrity based on how we conduct ourselves.  And we earn it, or not, always, forever.

Usually the first step to get to know someone online is to like their profile or to show interest depending on the function of the site.  It’s okay to explain why you are interested.  Perhaps it’s the photos that caught your attention.  If so, go ahead and say what caught your attention.  Perhaps it was the smile or the look of sincerity or the situation of the photos.

Maybe it was some of the content in the profile that caught your attention.  Go ahead and comment about what it is that you liked in their profile.  Try to imagine how good you will feel if someone makes nice comments about your good qualities.  Good comments helps the other to know that the interest is real and genuine.

If there is not a feature on the site for you to like someone or show interest then a first message is the way to open the relationship.  Brevity is the first rule.  Be upbeat and positive.  Be complimentary and go ahead and share what led you to send a message.  Remember this is the first message and if there is a connection there may be additional opportunities to share more about yourself.  With the first message you are only trying to find out if there is a spark of interest that comes back to you.

Allow some time for a response.  Offline and face-to-face a hello may receive an immediate response.  The recipient of your message may not be on the site and not aware of the message.  Maybe the message was accidentally deleted by computer/phone issues.  Allow 24 hours for problems to be solved.  If you do not have a response yet and your interest is still alive then it is okay to send a second message.  If there is still not a response then resume your search for another.

Many people do not handle rejection but with online dating they are not being fair to themselves.  If no communication has been established and neither party know anything about the other then how can a failure to respond to a message be considered rejection.  Friendships and relationships and true love are all built on a very powerful connection.  Those connections are developed over time and based on cumulative knowledge of each other.  Move forward and give real relationships an opportunity.

What if you receive a message and you do not have the interest?  It is not necessary for you to respond.  This may sound like poor etiquette or rude but in the world of online dating it is not.  If the person who messaged you has a good understanding of online etiquette and knows that it is not really a rejection then he, or she, will continue to search.  You are not required to provide an explanation.

Communication is different in email messages than face-to-face.  In face-to-face there is opportunity to explain what is meant by what is said.  In emails there is not always that opportunity.  Not everyone has the same background or reference criteria or life experiences.  All of the jokes about he said and she heard and she said and he heard are humorous but in email messages they are sometimes close to real.  The future communication between two people who have just met can be greatly facilitated by both parties acknowledging that further explanations are always at the ready.

If the new friendship begins to flourish there will be plenty of time for philosophies and opinions and passions about things dear to you to surface.  Those will occur in the natural course of things.  In the beginning keep it neutral.  over time both will want to know and you will learn in the communication.

In the real world it is always polite to ask about friending or tagging or a phone call.  Online dating is the same and you are in control of that privacy.  You are also in control of your comfort level if the requests come too early.

To meet someone new is exciting.  If the heart is touched it is more exciting.  But keep your head and remember that the Golden Rule still applies and online dating and communication has not changed it that much.