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Last updated on September 11, 2013 | by Aet Suvari


Online dating code of conduct

Aristotle said that human beings are social animals. I think most of us know what he means and how we should behave and act in order to be part of a well-functioning society. We know what’s generally accepted, what’s frowned upon and what’s considered to be out of our social norms.

But when it comes to online dating things get much more muddled. It isn’t completely clear what is considered to be cool and what’s a no-no. Is it acceptable to ignore someone’s messages? How quickly should you ask for a real date? How should you respond to a rude email? We’ve put together a ‘code of conduct’ for all online daters – a set of rules, do-s and don’t-s for online dating.

1. Keep your profile short and sweet

Ok, it doesn’t have to be that short, but you should always keep in mind that there are people out there who don’t appreciate rude humour, swearwords and sexually explicit content. Most dating sites don’t allow it anyway, but it’s always wise to keep tabs on it. There are people who won’t mind or don’t care and of course you can use your vocabulary to its full extent while talking to them personally but you should always respect the fact that not everyone can stomach the same kind of stuff.

2. No nudes please!

The worst thing you can do is to upload a nude pic, even if it only shows you partially naked. It’s not only offensive but it’s also tacky and lame. Think about the way you want to portray yourself – is that really all you’re about? All kinds of suggestive poses and gestures are included in this category. We know you mean to be funny but in fact you just look like a perv.

3. Get in touch, don’t wait

In real life it’s not always customary to start a conversation with someone – even if you’re attracted to them. Of course, there are also countless ‘rules’ on how to ask someone out, who should do it and when. How to ask? What to say? How many text messages should you send? Who should text first, he or she? Well, none of that applies in the world of online dating. This is absolutely the place where being more pro-active pays off. After all, everyone’s here for to make new acquaintances, so just jump right in and get in touch. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.

4. Always be polite

Jokes and banter are fine in first messages, rudeness and impoliteness are not. Also, it pays off to show some interest towards other people first, before you start asking them out. Be considerate towards other members and users – you’re a total stranger to them so give them time, be patient and never-ever respond to rudeness with rudeness.

5. Ignore and report

In fact, the best thing you can do with people who are rude towards you or who just won’t leave you alone and keep harassing you, is to ignore them completely or to report them to the dating site staff. This way you can also keep them from offending someone else and make the dating site a better place for everyone.

6. Reply, if you can

One of the biggest dilemmas in online dating world is whether you should reply to every message you get. We recently wrote a longer article about that but in a nutshell things are like that: reply, if you can. If you get tens and tens of messages it makes sense you won’t have time to get back to everyone, especially those that you definitely won’t be interested in. Don’t worry about it, after all you can’t let an online dating site take over your life. However, if there are only a few messages only that you get every week, take the time and respond, even if it’s a polite rebuttal. It just feels more human.

7. Be honest

Needless to say – lying is no more acceptable on a dating site than it is in real life relationships. If you’re there looking for a little extra-marital adventure, that’s between you and your other half but at least be clear with other members what you are and who you are. It won’t make you the nicest person around there but at least you won’t lead anyone on under false pretenses. Don’t lie about your appearance, your age, your work, your kids – just don’t lie about anything. We realise it’s easy to lie on the internet but something being easy doesn’t make it right. Lying about your appearance is only going to make for a seriously awkward first date when you do meet up.

That’s our short list of how to be on your best behaviour on an online dating site. Have we forgotten something? What’s in your list of conduct? Leave us a comment and let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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