I’m always interested to know how people met their significant others. There are the usual stories: college, a bar, work, etc. But then there are the stories that really intrigue me: the ones who have meet their significant others online. My roommate is one example, a coworker is another, and my mom is a third. (Yep – Mom met my stepfather through OK Cupid, if you can believe that!)
Online dating used to have a stigma attached to it: only people who couldn’t meet a mate in the “real world” opts for online dating. But that stigma is quickly fading. I mean, now it’s odd if you’re single and aren’t using a dating app, thanks to Tinder and Bumble and Hinge that have turned online dating into a game to play.
I’ve been online dating for five years now, and there have been some great moments and some truly terrible moments. But I feel like I’ve gained a lot of experience over the years, just from being on the sites and from talking to friends about their experiences. So, I thought it might be fun to write a list of “Dos and Don’ts” when it comes to online dating. Here we go!
Do provide a variety of photos
My general rule of thumb is to have 4-5 pictures: one selfie, one full-body photo, and then up to three photos that showcase part of your personality (I usually include a picture of Dutch and me and a picture of me on a cruise). I think those first two photos, though, are key. I like a selfie for my profile picture because it showcases my face front and center, which is important (I despise profile pictures that include a group of people because… who is the person I’m supposed to be looking at?!) And then a full-body shot is necessary because nobody wants to be surprised come the first date! 😉
Your pictures are how a match gets to know you. So much of online dating is about the visuals, so choose photos that truly represent you.
Don’t get stuck in a texting relationship
It depends on how responsive the person I’m talking to is, but I tend to like 3-5 days of talking online to see if there’s any sort of connection. After that, it’s time to make a plan to meet. I try not to spend more than 10 days from the first message to the first date. Now, I totally understand that my time frame might seem outrageously long to some people, but I like to take my time to get to know someone before agreeing to a first date.
I once got caught up in a texting relationship for two months (true story!) so, for me, 10 days is small potatoes. Exchange a handful of messages, and if it’s going well, establish a time to meet up in person. Don’t get stuck exchanging messages for weeks, though.
Do understand what you want
In my opinion, it’s important to have standards because it helps to define exactly what you’re looking for. Your time is precious and you don’t want to spend it going on dates with people who don’t fulfill certain criteria for you. Get super clear on what you are looking for – and this isn’t only physical. What kind of partnership do you want? What certain things do you need out of a relationship? Figure out your standards and you’ll find dating to be a lot more fun!
(That said, there’s a difference between having standards and having high standards. For example, it’s okay to want to date someone who is taller than you, but if you only want to date people who are a specific height, you might have high standards.)
Don’t get picked up on a first date
This is my number one piece of advice for online dating – never get picked up on a first date, I don’t care how nice the person may seem. Typically, I wait until the 4th or 5th date for that, though I once made the mistake of getting picked up on a second date (one that ended horrifically) and having to sit through a long dinner where I felt uncomfortable was pretty miserable. Also: this person is still a stranger to you! You haven’t met them in person, so giving them your home address is wacky to me.
Do get yourself tested
Okay, ladies and gents, I need to put on my parental hat here. If you are online dating and not getting tested for STDs regularly, we’re going to need to have a chat. Your sexual health needs to be as important as your standards for who you will and will not date. At a minimum, you need to get tested once a year if you’re sexually active. (But if you’ve had unprotected sex and/or you believe your partner has an STD, you’ll want to get tested again.)
If you’re unsure of what STD testing entails (and I get it – it can be scary!), there’s a handy-dandy website to help you learn more about STDs and the types of testing you can choose from. They even have a nifty symptom checker to help you discover which STDs you need to be tested for, if any.
Don’t leave home without an exit strategy
Before you leave for your date, make sure you have an exit strategy in place. This is especially important for women, to have a way to leave the date if things become uncomfortable. This allows you to leave the date whenever you want – even if you’re five minutes in. You do not have to stay there if you feel unsafe. Have a friend standing by to call you with an “emergency,” have an excuse ready to go if you need to leave, just have an exit strategy.
Having an exit strategy may sound dishonest or mean. But it’s not; it’s smart dating. It can be a scary world out there, and if you’re not feeling comfortable with the person you’re with, then you need to follow your gut and leave.
Do enjoy the experience
Online dating can be the worst. I totally get that. I’ve been doing it for 5+ years, and it has had high-highs and low-lows. But when I take away the pressure of finding the perfect mate and just try to enjoy the experience of meeting new people, I find myself liking this world of online dating. I have met some really cool and interesting guys that I would never have met if it weren’t for OK Cupid and Tinder and eHarmony. I’ve gotten to explore more of my city, try new restaurants, and see new things. Be open to what’s to come. It may exceed your expectations.
This post was sponsored by STD Testing Plus, a website that provides fast, accurate, and confidential STD testing at labs throughout the United States. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting me.
How did you meet your significant other? If you’re single, any additional “Dos” or “Don’ts” that I left off my list?