Face it, the rules of dating have changed a lot since online dating came along. If you’re a dater and want to do the right thing, how do you know if you’re crossing any lines or breaking any of these new rules? For the answers we talked to a few different relationship and etiquette experts for their take on the most important rules of online dating etiquette that you need to know.
1. Give someone at least 3-4 hours to respond.
The wait may make you anxious, but when sending an online dating or text message it’s good to give someone a little more time to respond. “I know this sounds like a crazy amount of time, but one of the biggest mistakes people make is sending “???” and “Guess you aren’t interested in me” simply because someone was busy at work,” says social media expert and president of Ruby Media Group, Kris Ruby. In fact, according to data from the online dating site Zoosk, sending a second message before getting an answer to your first can decrease your chances of getting a response from someone by 34%.
2. Reply within 24 hours.
Responding within 24 hours keeps a positive energy flow between a possible connection. “It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t need to reply back to an email where you don’t have interest in the person. After 24 hours, it’s assumed you’re unlikely to reply due to lack of interest or inactivity on the dating site,” says dating and relationship expert, and certified coach, Megan Weks. And Zoosk’s data backs up her advice. According to the activity of the site’s over 38 million members, 94% of responses come after 24 hours.
3. Connect with a potential date on several social media sites before going out.
“This is my #1 secret that most people never do. I can’t tell you how many times I have connected with someone on Facebook after talking on an app and then suddenly discovering they have three kids or half of their profile was a lie,” says Ruby. Use social media to do your background research.
4. Wait to give out your digits.
Although texting may be easier than finding wifi to send the next message, wait until you’re comfortable with someone before giving them your phone number. “If you are interested in them and wish to continue the relationship offline, consider setting up a date in a public place and get to know them in person before trusting them with personal contact information,” says Sharon Schweitzer, an etiquette expert and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide.
5. Set up an in-person meeting anywhere from three days to two weeks.
This, of course depends on your schedules. What you don’t want happening is for the both of you to text and text, and figure the other person isn’t really interested in taking you out, but just wants to flirt online.
6. Get to know the other person before meeting in person.
Similarly, opening a conversation with an invitation for coffee or drinks can make the other person feel uncomfortable. “Instead, take time to learn about your potential match by asking friendly and sincere questions about their hobbies, interests, or something they wrote in their profile,” says Schweitzer.
7. Let someone know if you’re not interested.
“If someone asks you out and you’re not interested, politely say that you would prefer to keep the relationship online, or that you would like to get to know them before meeting in real life,” suggests Schweitzer.
8. Ghost if you need to!
Unmatching, blocking, and reporting someone are socially acceptable options for those who wish to discontinue a conversation. “The best option is of course to be honest and explain that you’re not interested, but if you don’t feel comfortable with sending that message or if they continue to message you after you’ve been upfront, block them and move on,” says Schweitzer.
9. Don’t lie, be yourself.
“Whether it’s about your age, hobbies, or appearance, getting caught in a little white lie is always embarrassing, especially if you’re hoping things will work out well between the two of you,” says Schweitzer. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. If you portray yourself in a false light, you’ll never know if that person truly likes you or your new persona.
10. Don’t send creepy Snapchats or shirtless photos.
“For some reason, some men think women want to receive disgusting half dressed photos of themselves at the gym. Newsflash, we don’t. It is the number one way to get blocked, fast,” says Ruby.
11. Be appropriate.
Don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t face to face. Although it’s easy to open up to people online, according to online dating etiquette, it’s still important to keep the conversation appropriate.
12. Don’t assume.
“Online dating is a particularly sensitive situation, and it can be hard to tell if both sides are mutually interested in a relationship. Don’t assume that your online conversations will lead to anything more,” says Schweitzer.
13. Save your time.
If you have zero interest or actually dislike your date altogether, there is a way to remove yourself from the situation, says Weks. “Save everyone involved valuable time by saying, “I’m looking for a spark that I’m not feeing here and I don’t want to waste any more of our time figuring it out. Thanks for meeting me. I’m going to run.” You’ll breathe a sigh of relief when you share your truth and get your time back.
14. Don’t take it personally.
At any stage of the relationship process, rejection isn’t the best feeling, but don’t take it to heart. “Think about it as being one step closer to finding the person that’s right for you!” says Schweitzer.
15. Stay in contact.
The dating environment moves quickly. “Stay relevant by texting your date afterward to say you had a great time or to thank them. Lose the old two day rule. Your date will consider you a goner or ghoster by then and will be moving on to further opportunities,” says Weks.