The 10 Commandments of Online Dating
So, you’ve come out of a relationship – bewildered, blinded, baffled – and had some time to recuperate. Recalibrate. Re-evaluate.
You know what you want now. You’re ready to re-connect with the world of singles and throw your hat - or Havaianas, in my case - into the dating ring.
But how does one meet other possible partners in this increasingly coupled-up society? It’s not like high school, where you can ask your bestie to pass along a note to your latest crush, asking them to go out with you…although that could work if you’re game enough.
Chances are, you’re the last single left standing in your group of friends, so there aren’t any real options for a set-up there.
You don’t want to get involved with someone at work - too complicated.
You don’t want to trawl the local clubs/pubs for a date - ‘I met my Prince Charming while he was grinding on me and spilling vodka down my dress’, said no one ever.
Basically, you feel like you’re up ‘You-Know-What’ Creek without a paddle…
Enter, online dating.
Yup, I know – it sounds stupid, tacky, embarrassing [and even a little desperate], but in our technology-obsessed society, it shouldn't come as any surprise that we can look for love online.
We connect, communicate, learn, work and shop via the Internet, so we may as well add 'dating' into the mix. I mean, if you can somehow find this season’s hottest Marc Jacobs bag online, how hard can a date for Saturday night be?
However, online dating is a minefield of potential danger and relationship IEDs: Intolerable Excuses [for] Dates.
I know, because I’ve been on about a gazillion of them (all in the name of research of this article, of course,…*ahem*). You name the worse case scenario, and I’ve probably been there…and then some.
So, ladies and gentlemen, in my infinite wisdom, sense of charity, and general goodwill, I have created ten commandments for you to follow when taking the first tentative steps into the world of digital dating, because…well, basically, there’s not a lot of honest info to go by out there, and it can be kinda confronting and embarrassing. Learn from my mistakes and experiences.
I’ve got your back, peeps…
1. Thou shalt not use thy Interweb to rebound
Before you start creating any profiles, answering personality questions, or taking sexy selfies to appeal to the masses, ask yourself: Am I ready, or rebounding?
Feeling shaky, jittery, and lost without a partner, much like an addict going through withdrawals? Rebound.
Feeling confident, open-minded, and accepting of all possibilities, with just a hint of self-deprecating humour? Ready.
Looking for the next Prince/Princess Charming to sweep you off your feet, rescue you from the seventh circle of single hell, thus ‘fixing’ all your problems? Rebound.
Looking to meet new peeps and expand your network of friends, but comfortable with being on your own? Ready.
Dating out of spite; to prove a point, or to get back at the ex? Rebound And sooo not cool, babe.
Dating to have fun, try something new, and see what happens? Ready.
You gotta be prepared to ask yourself the tough questions and answer them honestly, sunshine. If you answered yes to any of the rebound questions, you may need to re-evaluate your intentions…and maybe speak to a counsellor.
2. Thou shalt use thy best judgment and trust thy intuition
Ever heard the phrase, ‘If it’s too good to be true, it probably is’?
Well, if you’re looking at a profile of some gorgeous hunk of a man with chiseled abs and a smile worthy of a toothpaste commercial, who states that his interests include yoga, flying planes, and spending his holidays de-worming orphans in Africa – all while studying for a PhD in Molecular Biology - then you may want to briefly check back in to reality and use your judgment.
I bet you ten bucks that the man really sitting behind the computer screen is a balding forty-something still living at home with his mother, and the only thing he knows how to successfully de-worm is his cat.
Guys, same applies to you: If she says she moonlights as a Victoria’s Secret model when she’s not racing on the Moto GP circuit, and posts pictures of herself in provocative positions, be wary.
Conversely, if someone refuses to show you any pictures, give out any information, and says that he/she is looking for someone between the ages of 18-100, then give them wide berth. If someone is too lazy to write a little bio or put some effort into the game, then they’re probably also too lazy to message you or make plans.
Or else they’re psycho. Either way, you don't need that shit.
Listen to your intuition. Trust your gut. If it’s not a ‘Hell Yes!’, then it’s a ‘No Thanks’. As one of my single friends says: ‘I always apply the How/Why Rule: How are they still single, and why are they online?’ Think about it.
3. Thou shalt keep thy private info on the down-low
You wouldn’t tell your life story to a stranger on the bus, or give your bank details to a friend on Facebook. Likewise with online dating sites.
No one wants to know how many boyfriends/girlfriends you’ve had, how much money you earn, why your last relationship ended, or what turns you on in bed. Keep that shiz on the D.L, and save yourself the embarrassment…and possible creepers who are attracted to that stuff.
4. Thou shalt keep it simple, stupid
The safest option for a first date? Casual coffee in a public place during the day/early evening. That way, if it works out, you can extend to lunch, drinks or dinner, if you like.
If it doesn’t - and you know within the first 15 minutes that you'd rather poke your eyes out with a blunt object than see this person ever again – you can make a timely exit without being rude or insulting because [realistically] it only takes about 30 minutes to order and finish a coffee.
Trust me on this. Don’t get locked into a meal straight off the bat: you may find yourself climbing out of the bathroom window before the main course arrives.
5. Thou shalt not let a dude pick her up at thy home
This tip is for the ladies. As chivalrous as guys may think it is to pick you up for a date, it’s also potentially dangerous. Do you really want a potential creep/pervert/stalker to know where you live?
Besides, this is not the 1950s – you are a capable woman who can drive her own ass to a café. You always need a means of escape, just in case. NEVER put your safety in jeopardy.
6. Thou shalt not be emotionally or verbally slutty
Stage Five Clingers need not apply. Likewise with loudmouths, braggarts, dependents, charity cases, or cheaters.
Be honest with your date, but save your emotional baggage for a priest or your psychologist.
7. Thou shalt not put up with a crappy date
Your time - and subsequent energy - is precious. If your date rocks up half an hour late, wearing last night’s party clothes, has conveniently left their wallet at home, and then proceeds to sit there playing on their phone the whole time, please feel free to excuse yourself quickly and politely.
You deserve better.
8. Thou shalt remember it is a numbers game
Dating is like playing bingo – you probably won’t win on the first go. This is doubly true for meeting people online. You have to go on quite a few dates with quite a few different people before you can make any decisions.
If you’re super keen, you may even double-book and find yourself going on multiple dates on the same day, although, from experience, this is tiring and tedious. Multi-tasking is a valuable skill, but make sure you have clear boundaries and allow yourself ample time to prepare. Just be sure to remember to call them by the correct name. #Awkward.
9. Thou shalt not kiss on thy first date
First dates are like job interviews. You wouldn’t give your possible future employer a kiss after answering their questions, would you?
It’s uncomfortable. It’s tacky. In fact, it’s just downright not cool.
Save that for the second or third date, once you know if you actually like this person.
And lads, don’t ask her for a kiss – that’s just embarrassing for both parties (and a little desperate on your behalf). And before you ask, yes, I have been asked exactly this by not one, but five guys I’ve gone on first dates with. Ugh.
Trust me, nothing will kill your chances of landing a second date faster than this…except for trying to feel her up. That shit will land you with an assault charge.
10. Thou shalt be honest and not give up hope
This is where basic human decency comes into play. If you weren’t feeling it and don’t want to see your date again, be kind, compassionate, open and honest with them. I stick to the following standard message:
‘Thanks for a great time. I really enjoyed meeting you, but I just don’t feel like we had enough in common to continue seeing each other. I just want to be honest and up-front with you, because I don’t believe in leading people on. I wish you the best of luck finding what you’re looking for. Take care”.
You’d be amazed at how many guys have messaged me back thanking me for my honesty. No one likes to be messed around, and remember: what goes around, comes around.
Conversely, if you don’t get a callback, it’s not the end of the world – it just means that wasn’t the right person for you. Keep going, tiger – the person you’re meant to be with is still out there somewhere.
At the end of the day, it’s just a date. You’re not negotiating peace in the Middle East or finding a cure for cancer. Don’t take it personally.
Bring some perspective to the situation.
Stay cool. Stay calm. Stay open. And keep on trying.
Oh, and P.S.: If anyone does happen to know a real, live, actual gorgeous hunk of a man with chiseled abs and a smile worthy of a toothpaste commercial, who states that his interests include yoga, flying planes, and spending his holidays de-worming orphans in Africa – all while studying for a PhD in Molecular Biology - please send him my digits and profile picture.