If you’re getting back into the dating scene after a divorce, you may turn to online dating as a fun, convenient way to connect with other singles — especially when you’re busy with your kids, and have little time on your hands to attend in-person mixers and meetups. Online dating has brought people together from all over the world, helping singles find meaningful connections amid today’s fast-paced, busy lifestyles.
If you’re ready to enter the realm of digital dating, there are a set of do’s and don’ts you should follow, to help you find a match smoothly. Just as you’ve experienced in face-to-face settings, there are certain guidelines and behaviors that are generally seen as acceptable, or unacceptable in the online dating world.
As you become more familiar with online dating culture, the social rules and expectations will become easier and easier. For now, start with these suggestions.
Don’t: Lie About Yourself
It’s easy to be someone you’re not in an online environment; a book lover, a sports fan, or a volunteer at an animal shelter, perhaps. You may wish you had some of these traits, or believe they would make you more attractive to a romantic partner. You may even feel you can carry that persona over into real-life experiences, such as when meeting up with people you’ve met online. For the first meeting, that may be true — but, building a relationship based on lies is a recipe for disaster. Be honest in your online profile, and don’t be afraid to be yourself during in-person meetups. This isn’t just about the moral issue of honesty; it’s about the fact that you can’t find someone who truly connects with you if you aren’t actually showing who you are. The only relationship that matters is the one that lasts, and that only happens when dates connect with the real you.
Do: Be Clear About What You Want
Many people turn to online dating because it eliminates some of the hassles of in-person dating. Through a few online encounters with someone, you can quickly determine if you two might hit it off in an in-person meetup. That said, you don’t want to waste your time connecting with people and scheduling dates, only to find out you aren’t interested in the same things. Be upfront about what you want in a partner and a relationship, to make it easier to find a match who wants the same things — someone who is truly worth your time to meet with in-person.
Don’t: Wait Too Long to Meet Up
Once you’ve formed a connection online, waiting too long to meet someone face-to-face can give you a false sense of intimacy. You should be able to tell from a few emails if you two will get along on a surface level, but after that, it’s time to put your theory to the test. Try to meet up within a week of meeting online, if you think you have a connection. That way, you can get to know each other’s true personalities, rather than the filtered online personality — which lacks much of the body language, tone of voice, and intricacies needed to determine if a connection is actually strong.
Do: Remember You’re Meeting Strangers
Online dating is a lot like blind dating. You don’t really know the people you’re going on dates with, even though you’ve read their online profiles. That means the traditional rules with strangers still apply:
- Don’t share your address or personal information online.
- Plan a short meeting at first, such as a coffee date, so you aren’t stuck in a long four-course meal that you’re not comfortable with.
- Always meet in a public place, at least for the first few meetings.
- Follow your gut! If something feels wrong or off, trust yourself. We have instincts for a reason.
Don’t: Carry Baggage With You
When going on a date with anyone — including someone you met online — it’s easy to fall into the classic discussion about your past. Remember, that’s all it is: your past. While your life-long partner should eventually know about your past, it doesn’t need to be discussed in detail online, or in your first face-to-face meeting. Don’t use your date as an emotional crutch, to lean on after a bad break up. Leave your baggage at home, focus on the date, and let the stories emerge when appropriate — which is usually well after the first few dates, once you feel there could be a strong, long-term connection with a person.
Do: Be Honest and Upfront about Your Situation
While you’ll want to leave details of your former relationships out of the discussion at first, not everything should be saved for a later date. The past is in the past, but you should be upfront and honest about the present. For example, if you’re a single dad, anyone you date has a right to know you have kids. If your ex-partner is involved in your life frequently — perhaps, because of joint custody of the kids — this is also something to mention on a first date. Addressing the present details of your life shows respect, as you’re giving others the opportunity to decide right from the start if it’s a situation they want to get involved in. This kind of respect shows maturity, honesty, and consideration — and helps you to ensure you won’t waste your time getting to know someone who ultimately, can’t accept the fact that you have children.
There are many more rules of online dating, and you’ll have to dive in and start meeting people in order to get settled in the social aspects. These few tips are essential, and should get you pointed in the right direction to start meeting other singles who align with your interests, personality, and lifestyle.