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Dating protocols for the digital age

We use the Internet to find many major things in life: apartments, jobs, electronics, travel deals. While it may be okay to haggle the price of a camera you’ve found off Craigslist, there are some lines you shouldn’t cross when it comes to love. Online dating can be a great tool for taking control of your love life – but only if you don’t abuse the privilege. Here are some Dos and Don’ts for dating in the digital world.

Do: Google your love interest

This sounds like a creepy advice, but you have to admit it’s hard to trust words from a stranger you’ve met off the Internet. After a date or two, run a quick Google check on the person to see that what he or she said about themselves is true. Does he really own his own company? Was she actually a former volleyball team captain at her university? Did she previously murder an ex-husband? No? Cool, resume your magical moments!

Don’t: Dig too deep

Using Google to fact check a few things is perfectly acceptable – a norm, even, in this day and age. But if you’ve found a family tree registry and are able to recite the names of his paternal cousins, it’s time to take a step back and clear that Google History. Besides, what’s the fun of learning about someone new if you figure it all out yourself first?

Do: Respond in a timely manner

There are thousands of people on the Internet looking to troll you for a date. A small percent of those are real, genuinely interested people, and it is quite possible your potential date is seeing multiple people at the same time. By not responding to messages or texts in a timely manner, your date will think you were uninterested and move on the next person in line. Don’t take more than a few days to return a phone call, and definitely don’t take more than a day to answer a text message. “Sorry, I just saw your text,” is the biggest lie anyone in the 21st century could tell. 

Don’t: Waste their time

Ever received a long, thought-out message from a potential date and realized you weren’t as interested in meeting them? It’s okay to let them down easy. Be polite and respond by thanking them for reaching out, but note that although they’re not exactly what you’re looking for, they will be a good match for someone else. If you’ve already gone a few dates and feel no spark, don’t leave that person hanging in your voicemail either. There are a myriad of ways to say “Thanks but no thanks,” so it’s up to you to figure out what works. Rejections hurt, but they’ll appreciate the honesty.

Do: Withhold some information

This should be a given, but for safety’s sake, never reveal your full name or disclose where you live and work. You’d be surprise how easy it is to track someone’s address and phone number (and sometimes the first five digits of their social security number) off a LexisNexis database. Even without a subscription to online databases, any nut job can look up your employer’s website, call the receptionist, and ask to be transferred to your line. Use Google Voice phone numbers to stay safe if you have to.

Don’t: Be lazy

True story, I had two roommates who went out on dates with the same guy, to the same place. Neither knew about the other until, in casual conversation, they realized they’d been to the same restaurant. They connected the dots and … busted! There’s nothing wrong dating a few people at a time, so long as you’re honest about it. But at least be creative enough to think each date through and come up with something interesting. When the waiters at your “special” place know you by name, but not your date? You are getting lazy.  

Do: Be flexible

Planning a date is a commitment, but don’t set your entire week around a meetup with a stranger off the Internet. Plans can change, so keep an open mind and go with the flow or accept cancellations (albiet they better cancel more than 24 hours prior). This stranger owes nothing to you, and if they act like a jerk before you even meet, that’s just a simple way of weeding out the bad seeds.

Don’t: Tweet, Instagram, Facebook status update your date

It’s tempting to show off the greatest plate of food you’ve ever had, but engaging your social media during the date will just make you look self absorbed and bored. You wouldn’t take a phone call in the middle of dinner (right?), so why post something to Facebook that you know will result in your phone blowing up with responses from your friends? Keep your dating life offline, at least in the beginning. Juicy details are for private conversations with friends; endless, boring images of how happy you are as a couple shouldn’t come until you’re actually a couple. 

[Image via Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock]

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