Good manners are needed in most human interactions, so it should come as no surprise that there are rules for good etiquette when engaging in internet dating. Most of them will seem like ordinary common sense, but some are not what people usually expect. For the most part, these rules apply to people of all ages; however, some are especially appropriate for people who are 50 and older.
1. Women or men may initiate communication.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but many women over the age of 50 will definitely prefer for men to initiate contact. Some women may send a wink or a flirt but wait for a response from the man before replying with an e-mail. I have had experiences in which women over 50 started contact with me but asked me not to tell anyone because they felt embarrassed at their boldness. For younger women this may not be an issue. Very often men of all ages begin communications and women are the recipients of more messages than they can handle, thus explaining the failure of many women to respond.
2. Failure to respond to initial contact is not rudeness and may often happen to men.
Sometimes, as previously mentioned, women have too many communications to respond to all of them. Many times either men or women will look at the profile of the person sending the communication and decide there is no interest in further conversation. It is reasonable to expect that many efforts to reach out will go unrewarded. In my case, I found that I received responses to winks or e-mails only about 20% of the time; nevertheless, I found myself quite busy meeting women on a weekly basis because the people who did respond were eager to meet me.
3. Corresponding with and seeing several people at one time are permissible.
In ordinary dating, it may be considered two-faced or inconsiderate to see multiple people at one time. With online dating, the presumption is that each person is checking out other possibilities until there is a clear agreement to be exclusive. This kind of agreement should not be expected before several dates and it would be rude for one party to want exclusivity before there has been ample opportunity for each to get to know the other very well.
4. Be careful with humor and sarcasm in your e-mails with your partner.
In general, you should keep your correspondence light-hearted. What you intend as humor may not seem funny to the other person and may even cause hard feelings. Sarcasm can also be misinterpreted and lead to a negative impression.
5. Be sparing in the use of capital letters in your e-mails.
Frequent use of all caps comes across as shouting and rudeness.
6. Refer to the other person's profile as you communicate.
Making positive references to the profile shows that you have paid attention to what they have to say and will facilitate smoother communications. This also shows that you are intent on finding out about them and not just out to talk about yourself.
7. Avoid profanity.
People who are over 50 will usually find profanity insulting and repugnant. People of all ages will probably be offended if you use profanity freely.
8. Don't be a cheap skate when you meet for a date.
Women over 50 will probably assume the man will pick up the bill unless other arrangements are discussed early in the date. If you want to "go Dutch," then say so very early. I have also heard of cases in which people met at a restaurant and one party didn't order any food or drink in order to save money - which was correctly interpreted by the other person as extreme rudeness.
9. Don't try to find out addresses or kiss until the third date.
It's a good idea for both parties to protect their anonymity until the third date. Having three dates establishes some mutual attraction and intention to follow up with more dates. In this case it is appropriate for the woman to tell the man where she lives and let him pick her up for a date. A good night kiss is also appropriate beginning with the third date.
10. End relationships with a short, polite e-mail.
Once you have met at least once, you should not just terminate someone through your internet service without a brief good-bye note. Even if you have met for as many as three dates, you can still use e-mail rather than having to break up in-person on by telephone. There is no need to provide a lengthy or detailed explanation of your feelings. All that is needed is a courteous statement that you see no future in the relationship and wish them the best for the future.
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