online dating etiquette

Ok, everyone, I need some advice with regards to online dating.

Specifically, I have two questions of etiquette:

  1. If a dude I’m not interested in messages me, should I write him back? To, like, reject him? It seems harsh, but then just leaving him hanging seems rude. What’s the way of online dating?
  2. And, is there a generally agreed-upon length of time/number of emails before I should buck up and meet someone in person? I know, I know, it’ll depend on the situation, but, you know, are we talking two messages or twelve?



8 responses to “online dating etiquette

  1. My advice:

    1) If you message someone you don’t think is right for you, be prepared to have serious dialogue with him about why you are not interested. Otherwise don’t do it. Personally if it was me doing the messaging I’d rather be ignored than told why I am not attractive to someone, but I guess others’ mileage might vary.)

    2) Meet someone for a quickie date (coffee, dutch treat, one hour and you’re out of there unless you both can’t tear yourselves away) as soon as you think you MIGHT like him. Don’t wait too long. But do not give him a phone number or any kind of address unless you are sure you like him. (And you don’t have to tell him “I’m out of here in one hour unless I really like you,” in fact I don’t actually recommend that; just keep it in the back of your mind that you can cut out then with no explanation necessary.)

  2. I agree with the above. Responding to say I wasn’t interested has NEVER worked out for me — It always leads to a 2nd and sometimes even 3rd and 4th email from them. I think it’s true what they say, that men like a challenge — so they interpret your email as a challenge to prove exactly why you should be into them. (Or, in the case of extreme assholes, why you weren’t worth their time to begin with.)

    And regarding the first meeting — I say sooner rather than later. I think the key is to meet in person BEFORE you start having little daydreams about them. Because I find what happens (at least for me) is that once you start trying to picture them as a person (based only on a couple pictures they chose to show you), your picture is inevitably going to be wrong. And then you’re going to be disappointed, not because of how they look objectively, just because they aren’t going to exactly the person you were picturing. Maybe disappointed isn’t the right word … just kind of … thrown. If that makes sense.

    So I’d say meet after about 3 emails, and maybe one or two good instant message sessions. That’s usually around where you start to entertain daydreams about what your first date will be like.

  3. I don’t know….I think it is a good idea to treat people how I would like to be treated. I appreciate not being left hanging. You don’t have to say something mean, just a simple “Thank you for your interest but I do not return your interest. I wish you well.” If they write back again, then there is no need to answer. In terms of when to meet…I concur with Andrea.

  4. In “real life”, I concur that I prefer to treat someone the way I would like to be treated, but I, too, had really bad luck when I responded to let people know I wasn’t interested. More than one person responded with indignance—one even changed the title of his profile to read “The redhead is a moron” because he was so angered by my (very mild and polite) response. So, I started ignoring, or using the pre-fab replies to keep my distance.

    I always prefer a phone conversation or two before meeting in person. It’s more like an in-person conversation than im’ing.

  5. I’ve done a lot of this and here’s what I feel based on my experience.
    If the person who write you is outside of your interest because he’s much too old, lives in another country, or speaks horrible english – don’t bother responding. Those tend to be the guys who email EVERYONE with the desperate hope of a response.
    If it’s a guy who seems pretty decent but you just aren’t attracted… I would say something like “thank you for emailing me, I am flattered… but I just started seeing someone and want to see how that goes. I’ll keep you in mind for the future!”

    As far as meeting someone in person, it does depend. If there is a good connection, sooner is totally fine. If they are sketchy, give it some time.
    On the flipside if you converse back and forth with someone many times and they seem to be AVOIDING the topic of getting together, they aren’t worth you wasting your time. You can take one stab at asking them if they are just nervous or shy about it and try to nudge them into it – but if they are resistant, let them go.

    Every boyfriend I’ve ever had I met online (yay fat girl on a date! lol) so I hope the little bit of wisdom I’ve collected helps :)

  6. Yeah, IM and phone calls… I hadn’t even thought about those. I don’t really use IM at all. Like, once or twice in my life. And I’m so bad on the phone – I prefer to avoid it even with my friends.

    But it sounds like there is some consensus around three or four emails. That’s about what it was with Writer Guy. I made a conscious effort to move more quickly to meeting in person than I have in the past, and it worked well.

  7. Eh, I’m probably not a good one for giving advice since I’ve had an online favorite for close to three years and we have never met. Of course it doesn’t help matters that he’s on the other side of the continent.

    As for responding to the no hopes, it depends how it will go. I’ve had some say thanks for letting them know, others were downright rude. It helps that I’m upfront about age, race, location, etc. so I can respond with something like, “I’m flattered but you’re so far away and I’m not seeking something long distance”.

    For the possibles, and I can tell with the first message whether there’s a spark, a few emails and a couple of phone calls. If he sidesteps the question of a meeting he gets written off.

  8. The one time from my dating site days (ie. last summer) I really had to face the whole “hmm it’s not gonna work, how to let him know?” situation, I lied and pretended that I started dating someone. I didn’t feel like being rude and letting him know that I find him to be the most boring guy on earth (seriously, he read some poetry he wrote on the phone, and I wondered how he managed to make it through open mic nights without being booed away). The worst thing is that I sometimes cross him at the deli downstairs from work (coincidence among them all: we work in the same building). I’m surprised he hasn’t tried messaging me to tell me, “hey I saw you at the deli”.

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