The complete guide to digital dating, guaranteed to maybe work

You’re starting on page 2 of this, click here to start at the beginning.

Avoiding stranger danger

Everything is essentially public on the Internet, so don’t be liberal with personal information too early on. Introduce yourself to a prospective match using a nickname and wait for things to progress before sharing more pertinent details.

Talking on Skype is better than talking on a landline (what the hell are you doing giving away your home phone anyway? Don’t do it!). It gives you a sense of availability and distance at the same time. It’s also not as easy to track someone down using a Skype account; a home number, on the other hand, is easily traceable and can lead to all sorts of sensitive information you don’t want to dish out.

And here is an unfortunate reality: A lot of matches out there are actually married, and most of them will never mention it. Believe me, you don’t want that kind of drama in your life. Learn to identify and avoid married people.

Be open, but be cautious as well. Find the balance between.

Making the first message move

When I first messaged my now-husband, I referenced something he said in his own profile, a tried-and-tested method for making the first move and beginning a genuine conversation. And while I thought he was handsome, I decided to say I thought he seemed interesting – as a general rule, I stayed away from commenting on a person’s looks right away. Commenting on a photo’s environment or an artifact in the shot or an article of clothing is acceptable and may even be an effective conversation starter, but exclamations about how damn hot someone is aren’t advised – it’s rude, and often-ignored … and way too soon, guys. Too soon.

Instant chat rarely brings out the best in people (all I ever got was “yo” or “sup” and a lot of “hey sexy”)

Be funny, but the right kind of funny: Avoid dirty jokes (they never work, anyway). Bring up specific interests that’s important to you so the person can quickly get a sense of what you’re like without having to check out your profile.

End your message in an open-ended manner – with a question, or invitation to chat. Instant chat rarely brings out the best in people (all I ever got was “yo” or “sup” and a lot of “hey sexy”), so don’t even enable the function. A lot more progress can be achieved through private messaging.

Again, let me re-iterate the importance of spell checking. Netspeak, bad spelling, and bad grammar can be deal breakers.

The first response

The great thing about the first response I got from my husband was that he dared to me think by asking a question, and he made me feel more at ease by answering it himself. When responding to a message that has a question, answer it as best as you can and respond with a counter-question (which you also should provide an answer to) to encourage a repartee.

Not interested? If you’re not feeling the sender of the message, don’t feel guilty – all is fair in love and online dating. Deleting or ignoring meh messages is OK, but you can also opt to be nice and let them down nicely if you’re not interested. Here’s a rejection letter I sent someone who was about 20 years my senior:

Dear Sir,

Thank you so much for your interest in getting to know me on a deeper level. Thank you for the award you gave me as well. That was so kind of you.

Friendship’s okay; I’m not one to refuse that to anyone who asks for it. But I feel like I must tell you frankly that as of the moment, I am prioritizing conversations with guys my age, so I might not be able to maintain a correspondence with you. After all, this IS a dating site.

I do hope things work out well for you and that you find the woman of your dreams.

Keep on writing!

Jam

I sent this nice response since he, too, had been polite. Of course, if you come across a d-bag, then all bets are off. Respond as you see fit – just don’t let it escalate.

Maintaining an online relationship

First, a disclaimer: If you want to get into an online dating site, find a match, score a date, and get out, by all means go for it. Online dating is, for all intents and purposes, a means to make meeting people easy – it’s why you’re encouraged to meet up with people on the site in real life. In my personal experience though, I’ve had better success after really developing the conversation online first. This gives long distance matches a real shot, too (people tend to rule them out because it is too much work, but allowing it to be an option significantly widens your shot at relationship happiness).

I can’t say for sure what it would be like to message someone and immediately set up a real life date, I made a rule for myself – sort of like the “no sex before the sixth date” rule. My interpretation: no visual communication (virtual or in person) before the sixth email, and it has never failed me. Those who fail to make it to six don’t get the chance to see me, even from a screen, and those who do are gifted with more of my stories, complete with appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures!

But say you find yourself dating someone you met on a site – and you don’t live near each other. Then what?

If you do find someone not in your time zone, make sure to keep a consistent conversation flow. In my case, even though Manila is 12 hours ahead of New Jersey, I made sure I sent out an email a day, and he gladly did the same. He had a full-time job then and was often unavailable when I was, so we’d schedule text and video chats in levels: L1 for purely email, L2 for text chat (through Gmail) with intermittent responses, and L3 for full-on Skype video chat. It was effective because it allowed both of us to carry on with our lives and at the same time, invest enough time on our budding attraction. Of course, this was once our relationship became more serious, so don’t go whole hog on the Skype schedules right away. Letting things happen organically is important.

Like I said earlier, if you find someone you can talk to for hours, write and chat with simultaneously, video chat and still have a lot to talk about, then you’ve got yourself a catch. If you happen to come across a person who loves to write and communicate through letters, I heartily advise that you give it a shot.

Taking it offline

If you choose to really develop the relationship online, then the first real life meeting probably won’t be so scary. The great thing about all the time my husband and I spent getting to know each other online is it completely eliminated all the awkwardness and fear during our first meeting in the flesh. It honestly didn’t feel like the first time – at that point I already knew so much about him that it felt like we’ve known each other for years, a great sign of great things to come in any new relationship.

online offline dating

But if you’re a casual dater on a first date with a recent online match, know that it’s just like any other arranged date – talk about what matters and ask a lot of questions (and really listen). If it’s your first date ever, just remember your date’s profile and draw conversation inspiration from there. And don’t feel silly for thinking of conversation starters in advance when looking over your date’s profile. Not to make it sound horribly unromantic, but you’d do the same for a job interview, right?

Make sure you set your date in a neutral location that’s not too close to your home or place of work. This will make it easier to stop seeing an online dating find should your date go horribly wrong. I’m not saying it will, but it might – it’s better to be prepared.

If you do end up with a bad first date experience, don’t feel like a jerk if you have to be the one to let someone down (it has to be done). It’s rude to explain why the date went poorly based on the other person’s attributes, so word things so that they come back to you – you just share their interests; you wish you had, but you just didn’t feel a spark; you had trouble keeping conversation going.  Of course if your date was somehow horrible, then you’re allowed to tell them why you won’t be meeting up again.

Online dating can lead to awesome – so dive in!

Yes – I met my husband thanks to online dating, but it also helped me dig deeper and take a hard look at myself and what I wanted out of life, not just in a partner. Enjoy this self-reflection. If you don’t end up finding someone you like online, the experience can still better equip you mentally and emotionally in finding someone.

Don’t treat online dating like a never-ending buffet (even though at times it will feel like one). From your many matches (who actually respond and show interest), only choose a few to develop connections with. Your best case scenario is you end up with a fruitful relationship; your next best option is good ol’ friendship. At the very least, you will come away with a hilarious story about that one time you tried online dating.

To end on a hopeful note, here’s my last piece of advice: Don’t get discouraged if the first few online acquaintances you make don’t pan out; try and try again! Online dating can actually become fun if you spend some time investing yourself in it, and when you hit the jackpot, you’ll be glad you stuck it out.

Take it from me. I am glad every single day. Sorry if that sounded like a humblebrag …

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Social Media

Zuckerberg may have known more about Facebook’s privacy scandal than we thought

In the midst of an ongoing investigation into Facebook's Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, a new report suggests that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have known about the company's much-criticized approach to privacy.
Mobile

Bored with your Snapchat username? Here's how to change it

We've all been there. You're setting up a new account and just type in whatever pops into your head as a username. Then, later on, you realize that was a mistake. Here's how to change your Snapchat username.
Mobile

Get together with your buddies, talk, and play games with Snapchat's group chat

You can get your friends together for a good time, even if they are hundreds of miles away, by starting up a group chat on Snapchat. Here's how to make a group chat on Snapchat and get the party started.
Cars

Tesla screens may support YouTube with next software update

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced today at E3 that the infotainment screens will support YouTube video streaming very soon. This most likely lines up with the latest software update that is expected later this year.
Social Media

Instagram is back up after being offline. Here’s the latest on the outage

Instagram finally came back online Thursday afternoon after an outage that lasted just over an hour. The Instagram outage was one of several that hit at the same time, including a several-hour failure at the PlayStation Network.
Social Media

Facebook’s comment-ranking system aimed at taming the dumpster fire

Even by the standards of the internet, Facebook comments are famously awful. Now Facebook is introducing a new comment ranking system to attempt to tackle this problem by promoting quality comments and hiding low quality ones.
Photography

Adobe concocts an A.I. that can detect — and reverse — manipulated photos

The company behind the software that's often used to manipulate photographs may help make it easy to spot a fake photo. Researchers at Adobe recently created an artificially intelligent program that can recognize fake photos of faces.
Social Media

Kim Kardashian can get a deepfake taken off YouTube. It’s much harder for you

YouTube took down an incredibly realistic — and fake — video purporting to show Kim Kardashian West discussing a shadowy organization called “Spectre” and mocking her fans for violating copyright.
Social Media

Maybe you missed something, so here's how to take another look at that Snap

The people you follow on Snapchat are important to you. If you get frustrated when you're trying to look at a friend's Snap or Story and it disappears, here's how to replay a Snapchat message or post.
How-To

You can delete Snapchat messages in a snap with these simple tips

If you've ever sent a message to someone and wish you could delete it, Snapchat has a feature you'll like. Yes, it lets you delete messages you've already sent. There are some limitations, though. Here's how to delete Snapchat messages.
News

Brush up on your makeup skills with YouTube’s new augmented reality feature

YouTube will soon let users try on makeup while watching popular makeup tutorials through augmented reality. Viewers will be able to actually try on the makeup products the online tutorials are showcasing and promoting. 
News

Congress already wants to block rollout of Facebook’s cryptocurrency

It only took a few hours after Facebook provided details of its Libra cryptocurrency on Tuesday for lawmakers in Congress to tell the social media giant to pump the breaks. Facebook was asked to stop development until Congress weighs in.
Computing

What is Libra? Here’s what you need to know about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

Facebook released a white paper announcing its new cryptocurrency, Libra, which it intends as a way to enable more people around the world to process online payments. Here's how the new blockchain technology works.
News

YouTube could make big changes to children’s content amid federal investigation

YouTube is considering major changes to its recommendation algorithm amid an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into how it handles videos aimed at children. The investigation is in its late stages, and is in response to…
2 of 2