Love, Heartbreak

3 Essential Online Dating Etiquette Tips

I recently received a message on OkCupid from an attractive, educated, interesting guy. All it said was, “Hi. Nice profile.” And he signed his name. I enjoyed reading his profile, but I was very put off by the red dot signifying that he “replies very selectively” to the emails he receives. My first thought was that he must ignore all of the women who email him. And in that case, why would I want to know him? Instead of jumping to conclusions, however, I wrote back. “Back at ya. But what’s up with the red dot?”

And so began a lengthy conversation about common courtesy and online dating etiquette. Since that interaction, I’ve paid close attention to my other email exchanges, and I’ve identified 3 essential online dating etiquette tips.   

1. Send courtesy replies. “It’s simply not possible for me to respond to everyone who writes to me,” said the red dot guy. Yes, it is. If someone took the time to compose a personal message to you and you don’t reply, you’re being rude. Find the time. It takes about one minute to compose a short email to say that you appreciate the message, but don’t think you’d be a great match. Be kind, be truthful, and keep it short.

I don’t think it’s necessary to reply to copy-and-paste letters, or even the kind of one-liner this guy sent to me. I’m talking about emails that are clearly personalized and respectful. Receiving that kind of message is like someone coming over and talking to you. You wouldn’t just turn and walk away, would you? No. You’d offer a polite refusal. And you should offer the same courtesy and respect to the people who write personal messages to you. These people have feelings.

The red dot guy went on to say that he was currently on 3 other dating sites, and it would be a full time job to reply to all his emails. I could argue that being on several sites is his choice, and he should only make that choice if he can keep up with the responsibility. But I understand it’s a numbers game, and he wants to be efficient by widening his scope. In that case, I offer the following advice: If you’re getting more messages than you can reply to, be more specific in your profile. If you know you’re really looking for someone who is very interested in art, write that. If you need someone who can handle your dry sarcasm, include that in your profile. Think about your dating deal breakers, and clearly express what you’re looking for.

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