At the risk of revealing just how old we are, the current dating scene—particularly the digital kind—sometimes makes us yearn for decades past, when late-night phone calls, handwritten notes, and clandestine meetings were the norm. Back then, love was a battlefield, and men really had to work hard and honestly to get a woman’s attention and affection.
It’s a lot easier now for all genders, thanks to social media and dating apps. But then the creepy and unromantic subtexts of the Hollywood-movie GIFs above seem to have been carried on to the digital realm, along with countless more undesirables. Online dating has its own set of shifting rules, most of which sound like common sense if you think about it, but still need to be said nevertheless. Below, you’ll find a short list of dos and don’ts for when you decide to dip your toes into online dating/courtship.
Calm the F down
We know it’s tempting to present the perfect social media profile to everyone. It’s the first stop for everyone, and boy oh boy there will be a lot of judgment. But there’s also a very thin line between being super-awesome and super-fake. Take it easy with the angles, poses, and textures and those damn emo/pa-rinig quotes from unverified or unknown sources. People like to see you exactly as you are, not you #livingyourbestlife.
We often make fun of how people use and abuse the word “authentic,” but the truth is it’s still the first thing we look for in an individual's online profile.
Not everything has to be scrutinized and analyzed down to the last detail, and not every post has a deep meaning that you have to discover. We guess the best aspect of social media is also the trickiest—there’s just too much information posted every day that it’s difficult to determine what should be taken seriously and what shouldn’t.
Know what you like and don’t like, and be honest about it when asked
While most people treat online dating as a fun extended party with multiple participants, it can actually be an efficient method of weeding out the nays from the yays: you can decide right away if you like what you see, and swipe accordingly. No games, no bullshit. Honesty will always be the best policy, gents.
Talk and listen
Here’s another problem with online dating and communication: it’s quite easy to make a conversation one-sided, meaning only one person talks and the other simply agrees or reinforces what the first person says. If you don’t like what’s being said, you can quickly mute, filter, unfollow, or block someone, then move on to the next person.
Just like in the real world, if you’re truly interested in someone, listen to what she’s saying online. Read the links she posts from start to finish, comment on her status messages, Like those (recent!) photos and videos, and have actual/substantial online conversations with her. These show—to the extent that online actions can truly show anything, anyway—that you value her and her opinions, and want to learn more about her.
TL;DR: Listen, disagree if you must, but never ever impose your own thoughts and opinions on anyone else. No one likes mansplaining.
Mind your manners
Again, as in the real world, manners matter. Talk to her and about her with respect, be on your best behavior, ask her what she thinks, and never ever assume that you can speak for her or post photos of her without her permission. Keep the online PDA posts on the down-low, and please stop making that heart sign with your hands.
Deep-dive into her social media history
She might feel it's creepy and disturbing once she gets a notification saying you Liked she posted back in 2010. That’s so not cute.
We’re not talking about hito. You’re catfishing when you create a fake social media account (or multiple social media accounts) to trick others, either into a relationship or for other (worse) purposes. Just cut the crap.
Be a dick
We’re referring to horrible, illegal, and unfortunately, all-too-common online actions done by men: stalking and harassment, sending nudes, slut-shaming, taking screen shots of every private conversation and posting it onlione (and/or switching your post setting to Public so everyone can see them), publishing revenge porn, etc. All of these constitutes pure dick-ery.
Diss, especially when things don’t go your way
So your ligaw strategy didn’t go according to plan, and she’s not into you. That’s that, guys. Don’t talk smack, don’t obsess about it, and don’t commit libel/slander/defamation/character assassination. Be a gentleman and move on.