Everyone knows that the rules of dating have vastly changed since our parents’ time. Some might even say that there are no rules these days. Others might yell, “Rules are made for breaking!” while drinking red wine alone in her bedroom and Tindering.
There’s no question that things can get really crazy in this online dating world that many of us live in. Not a weekend goes by that I don’t hear one or ten of my friends question their behavior or that of the person they’ve met/texted/”liked.” I’m talking things like, “Do I message first?”, “But what does that MEAN?” and “So we’ve hung out now three times, but none of them were date-dates….” No one is ever really sure whose ball is in whose court or if the clock has run out or some other sporty metaphor.
And as we all know, there’s no controlling how someone else is going to respond in dating situations, especially when you’re meeting them on the screen on your phone. But the thing you can control? Being a good online dater yourself. So how do you know if that’s you? Well thanks to technology and a good, solid year of singleness, I’ve observed some telltale, encouraging signs that you’re doing it right.
1. You’re open.
Translation: you are actually meeting people. Ya know, going on dates, doing the very thing that most of these services were set up for. Whether that means you’re actually initiating solid, date-like plans or you’re saying yes when someone does, you’re open to the process. And the online dating world needs more people like you. You for president.
2. You’re respectful.
This is tied to that first one. This means that if you’re doing the asking and you don’t like his/her answer, you’re listening and responding graciously, without anger or bitterness. It also means that if you don’t want to go out with a person who asks, you are considerate, honest, and give them a concrete answer. Remember, we’re all kinda in this together and this can be a tough, often demoralizing and discouraging process. It goes a long way to humanize the people you’re interacting with and—here’s a new piece of advice that I just made up—treat them how you wanna be treated.
3. You care about your profile.
If you’re going to spend the time or money or Xanax to try to meet people online, you might as well follow the instructions and fill out that profile. Be mindful (but honest!) about your photos, take time to answer the ‘about me’ and ‘what I’m looking for’ questions. True, many online daters ignore your parameters entirely, or only look at your photos, but hopefully someone in their life is printing out this article and showing them point #2.
4. You’re breezy.
This is for all of those online dating heroes who are somehow treating this with equal parts seriousness and levity. You don’t let letdowns get in your way, but you’re genuinely excited about the potential of meeting people. I have a friend who is always going on dates, even though, according to her, she knows within the first five minutes if she’s attracted to the person or not, and the numbers lean way more heavily towards the latter. I think this is one of those magical things that makes people more datable: they have a lot of dates lined up, so they take each one less seriously (AKA it won’t make or break their week if it doesn’t go as planned). So when it’s a bust, they brush themselves off because they’ve got another date on Tuesday. And if it’s an awesome date? They’re not gonna freak out or read too much into it. . ..because they’ve got another date on Tuesday.
5. You know what you want and how to communicate it.
Good online daters know what they want from the experience and can communicate that clearly to the people they’re meeting. It doesn’t matter what it is or what people think of it, what matters is being upfront about what you’re after. I once got a sort of racy message from a guy promising me nothing more than a casual encounter. I think he said the word ‘casual’ three times just to be sure I got it. While that’s not what I’m looking for, I wrote him back to tell him how much I appreciated him being forthcoming about what he wanted. Because of his honest approach, we were able to do a digital tip of the hat and ‘good luck out there’ and skip all those steps where we were on different pages and then, inevitably, disappointed.
Believe me, depending on the week I often only average about one out of four on this list, but then again, I’ve never pretended to be a good online dater (remember the girl shouting about rules in her underwear whilst drinking red wine out of the bottle and Tindering? Spoiler alert, that’s me). But for all of you who are doing this right, kudos. Now go teach all of your friends and lovers how to be more like you.
(Featured image via)