Technology Tips for Dating

Odds are, if you haven’t met a romantic partner online yet, you know someone who has. It’s also just as likely that you text, IM or email your friends, colleagues and even potential mates on a regular basis (maybe all three!). Let’s face it, we do just about everything via the Internet these days. But with all of this new technology making communication more readily available than ever, do all the old rules of dating go out the window?

The good news is that no matter how much html coding you put around things, many of the old standbys of courtship still apply – starting with the fact that there is no single, universal path to true love! The only rule you can follow is to trust your gut. Do that, and with just a few tweaks to your arsenal, you can master dating in the information age in no time at all.

Here’s how:

Can you really get to know someone via email, IM or text?
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get the tone of written messages, no matter what form they take, particularly when you’re just getting acquainted. People have been misunderstanding each other for years verbally, so it’s natural that without visual or audio cues, communication of this kind is even more complicated. And, while you can get a basic idea of someone (and see their red flags loud and clear if you’re paying attention), there is one other thing to be careful of when getting to know each other via new technology… see below.

The fantasy factor – how can to avoid it?
It’s really easy to put all your perfect mate’s characteristics on a person whose picture suits your taste, who expresses interest in you and who plays to your likes and dislikes. Just make sure you’re actually getting to know the individual on the other end of your keyboard and not simply assigning them the identity you want them to have.

When communicating via written/typed/texted word, read carefully (but don’t over-analyze). Be honest. And, trust your instincts. If someone sets off a warning bell, heed it – even if it’s as simple as addressing your concern outright in your next message. If they don’t like it or want to answer you, so be it. They weren’t the person for you!

How long should we wait until we meet in person?
When you “meet” someone online (you know, see their profile and email them or receive an email from someone who has responded to your profile), it’s tempting to do one of two things. The more timid may be inclined to hold potential mates off in favor of continuing emails or instant messages to see if you’re really interested. Whereas, the more forward tend to want to meet immediately to see if there’s a spark. Meeting early may be the way to go, as it does avoid wasting anyone’s time.

As with good, old fashioned dating, the most important thing is that you both feel comfortable with what you’re doing (any initial awkwardness excluded of course). The right person would never pressure you to meet in person before you’re ready… But no one in their right mind will wait months for someone who lives 15 minutes away to agree to a half hour coffee date, either. The fact is, no matter how well you connect online you don’t ever know exactly what you’re getting – so you’ve got to feel your way. Again… use your instincts!

NOTE: It is still wise (and totally appropriate to expect) to meet in a public place when you get together for the first time. Please remember that just because someone has posted something in their profile, it isn’t always true. Proceed with caution as you would when meeting any stranger – because you really don’t know.

Is a text the same thing as a phone call? (or when is a text appropriate?)
Like most things, the answer depends on context. A “thank you” text following a date (particularly an early one) is standard now, and perfectly acceptable (as is a “thank you” email). A “what’s going on there?” at lunch or “how’s your day so far?” from work shows the other person is thinking of you. But like those late night booty calls of yore, a misspelled two a.m. SMS like “where are you?” or “wanna hang?” is probably exactly what it seems – a text for sex… Only hopefully, unlike it’s predecessor, it didn’t wake you up!

When trying to determine the weight of your potential paramour’s words, consider how often they come – and via what medium. If they’re often delivered in person or via the telephone and texting is reserved for quick questions, sweet nothings or goodnight notes, that’s a good sign. But minus any actual face time, texts alone just aren’t enough. Anyone who really likes you will want to spend time with you – and will make the time, no matter how busy they are, to do just that. Period.

Breaking up
It is never okay to break up using an electronic means of communication. Have enough integrity to do it in person – same goes for your partner. Also, there is no guarantee that the other person will get your electronic message – unless they tell you they did. So speak to them face to face.

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