Dos and Don'ts: Essential Tips for Online Dating

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Dos and Don'ts: Essential Tips for Online Dating

True, some may insist that the "old-fashioned method" of falling in love is the only tried and true path toward finding your other half. However, in this fast-paced, multi-tasking world in which nearly everything hinges on staring at a computer screen, giving online dating a whirl only seems fitting.

And just like Twitter’s all-important word limit – and Facebook’s privacy policies that can work for you if you know what you’re doing – there are a few guidelines for the cyber-based dating arena that will set you happily on your way. 

1. Amp Up Your Profile

A profile is meant to act as substitute for your real self until you meet up with your date. Think about the good and bad examples you’ve seen and what you would hope to see in the write-ups of your matches as a guide to creating your best profile.


  • Include honest information about yourself.
  • Have a friend look over your profile to make sure it sounds like you.
  • Add plenty of pictures that accurately portray what you look like.


  • Inflate or understate your qualities and accomplishments.
  • Use a cutesy or embarrassing screenname!
  • Lie about anything.
  • Include heavily photoshopped photos or pics of you with an ex. 

2. Don't Be A Wallflower

Just like those school dance days, if you sit coyly in the shadows, your chances of having a fantastic time are not so great. Fortunately, your first contact with new people in this case is through online messaging, so it’s actually much less awkward than junior high school. Phew!


  • Sign in regularly.
  • Initiate message sending or at least utilize a site’s less direct options, like clicking on a “flirt” or “secret admirer” button.


  • Sign in once a month only to become frustrated that your dating life is awfully quiet.
  • Ignore interesting matches that message you – message back! It doesn’t mean you’ve committed to anything, not even a date. 

3. Plan Your Date Thoughtfully

Every friend and relative has offered the sage advice, “Just remember to be yourself!” when you broke the news of your plan to try online dating. However, taking measures to avoid over-the-top outfits is just as important as remembering to take safety precautions, too.


  • Dress nice for your date – it’s always a confidence booster.
  • Apply your cologne or perfume lightly.
  • Choose a public place to meet, like a coffee shop, so you’re surrounded by people.


  • Wear something far outside of your usual style or comfort zone.
  • Meet at someone’s house or in a secluded place – drive yourself so you’re not depending on someone you’ve just met for transportation.
  • Plan a long date. If a quick cup of coffee turns out to be amazing, plan a longer, second date.

4. Take Your Time

Of course, many claim love at first sight is real! But love at first profile glance? Not the best way to approach online dating. Take your time with everything so you never feel like you rushed into anything – you’ll be happy you enjoyed the process.


  • Email back and forth several times with a potential match to get to know each other.
  • Talk over the phone before meeting in person to gain a comfort level.
  • Sign up for several dating sites to find the one (or several) you like best.


  • Schedule three dates within one day of “meeting” online matches.
  • Utilize online dating with the goal of instantly meeting your soul mate. Just have fun!

5. Leave The Party Early (If Necessary)

That party that was so boring/uncomfortable/strange/long – the one you kept telling yourself you were going to leave behind ASAP, but you ended up staying? It never got any better. Your lesson? You should have left. This is one of the golden rules of online dating. Not digging what’s going on? Opt out early.


  • Trust your instincts. If you just have a weird feeling about a site, delete your account. It’s that simple.
  • Ask a friend to call and check in on you during a date. It might not be the nicest way to leave a date early, but unless you’re made of steel, it’s much easier to tell your date it was your dad and he needs you to drive him to the emergency room (or something less obvious).


  • Ignore red flags in messages from matches or on a date because you think you’re overreacting.
  • Hang around on a bad date hoping things will suddenly get better.

You will never know what’s out there until you give it a try! And if you’re going to take online dating for a spin, you might as well put your best foot forward and make the most of the search preference's results. Who knows – you just might find what you’re looking for.

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