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Four rules for digital dating

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The internet is a powerful tool. With the right keyword, a world wide web of information is just one click away. Not too long ago, people mostly watched the news and read the newspaper as the only sources of information. With all the high-tech electronics in use today, it is not surprising that many daters are turning to the internet for dating advice, tips, and dates.

Online dating is steadily trending as the top choice for many singles to search for potential mates. With the ever-changing wireless phenomenon, the number of online daters is soaring. Face it; technology has fundamentally altered the way people communicate. Now everyone send messages, update their social media accounts, and share all of their information with the touch of a finger or one click of a mouse. But all this "new, instant" communication comes with a price. By constantly being on the go and updating ever move through social media, people are becoming accustomed to 140 characters or less. With this sense of the "now," all human connections are often superficial and causing an inability to develop any romantic connection and move to the next step.

Everyone starts a relationship with the hopes of it lasting. Yet the way in which most daters communicate now, it seems that everyone wants things to instantly materialize. But relationships need time to nurture and develop, and if a couple does not have the tools and patience, their relationship will never make it beyond the honeymoon phase.

Singles who are serious about developing a meaningful relationship could use the following four digital dating rules to place attention toward their date.

1. No digital breakups.
1. No digital breakups. John Moore/Getty Images

1. No digital breakups.

It is or can be hard to tell someone that it is over.  But a digital breakup is much more hurtful to the receiver of the bad news.  Not only is it hurtful and distasteful, it is a cowardly move.  Sure, times have changed.  Texting and social media have almost completely replaced the phone as a primary means of communication.  Although there are some situations that can rightfully allow for the use of text messages, but a "break up text" is not one of them.  Any relationship that can actually be called a relationship demands a human-to-human, vocal breakup.  Not to do so is tacky.

So while technology has dramatically increased the quantity of information exchanged, it has undeniably undermined the quality.  Technology coupled with smartphones has negatively affected the means in which everyone communicates.  When trying to develop a connection with someone, it is hard to do so digitally.  So many people are too accustomed to communicating by phone rather than by talking that it causes a disconnect and a misunderstanding.  Instead of taking the time to engage in meaningful conversations, too many people are opting toward technology.

So when it comes to dating, put down the cellphone on the date, but pick up the phone "to call" before and after the date.  Today's youngsters might think calling is old-fashioned, but it is essential to building and sustaining a relationship.

2. No digital distractions.
2. No digital distractions. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

2. No digital distractions.

For all the ways technology saves people time, it also causes many distractions.  Everyone is so focused on their cellphone notifications that it is interrupting their daily lives and leisure time.  Many do not realize or even notice how many hours of a day is being lost to cellphones and tablets.  Technology hinders focus, and it can also destroy romance.  So, put those smartphones aside and only use them in an emergency situation.

Being "present" is perhaps the most valuable aspect of a date; yet not many of daters actually give their "whole" self.  Society, as a whole, seems to do everything virtually rather than in person.  Despite the significance of the physical body in forming bonds and communicating, today's daters are continually opting towards technology. 

So when on a date with someone, do not text or call anyone or answer a text or call.  In fact, turn off the cellphone!  Even if one feels the need to stay connected and available every moment of the day, is this fair to any date?  Cellphone usage and dates do not mesh well.  Cellphone distractions on a date will prevent people from connecting to one another.  If one allows outside distractions in dating, the attention that is supposed to be directed toward their date has been shattered.  Not only does this give a bad first impression, it also builds resentment.

3.  No bad netiquette
3. No bad netiquette Omar Havana/Getty Images

3. No bad netiquette

The days of picking up a phone to actually have a human-to-human conversation or even writing a letter are long gone.  Technology has indeed altered the way in which everyone communicates now.  One's "online" presence and connections are so important to them, especially to young people.  Many of them would rather endure physical pain than lose access to their social media networks. 

Today, most people have more online friends and followers than people they communicate with in person.  The strength of online relationships reflects the best and worst of face-to-face relationships.  But when things go bad online, they are difficult to remove if not impossible.  Unlike in the real world, many tend to forget about heated altercations and hurtful words.  Therefore, they need to develop a code of netiquette—standards of online behavior. 

The best netiquette is to not "type" anything that would not be "said" in person.  We are all living in the age of posts, tweets, and comments.  It seems that everyone has something to say.  So while everyone has his or her own interpretation of what is or is not acceptable, it is wise to be mindful of what is shared.  Remember with every word being digitally shared, there is usually a comment or a few comments that follows.  So, digitally do onto others as you would have done to you.

4. No digital oversharing.
4. No digital oversharing. Omar Havana/Getty Images

4. No digital oversharing.

Everyone knows appearances matter in the real and digital worlds.  However, everyone still seems to underestimate the power of virtual self-presentation.  With all the social media platforms, people have many new ways of self-multiplicity.  Even though everyone represents a singular presence on the web, today everyone's image is or could be replicated and has the potential of working for or against him or her across the interent.  Remember everyone's virtual self leaves a permanent digital presence, which multiplies his or her online visibility.     

Everyone should actively build their online identity and establish their online presence.  If he or she does not manage or control their online presence, they are letting search engines like google put together information, positive or negative, and create their public story or profile.  Instead of letting someone else or search engines write your public story, establish and maintain a true, healthy online identity. 

A person's online identity becomes more important daily, because most people rely more on search results to help paint a picture of someone.  To make sure that the picture is a good one, be conscious of and consistent with what is shared online.  Everyone should be diligent and mindful of his or her virtual appearance.  One should treat it as they would their own physical appearance.  The digital equivalent of an ex sharing a sexy picture is not so easily remedied by simply deleting it, and plus the audience is larger.  So instead of letting Bing, Google, or Yahoo write your public story, help to create the true story by directing search results to your accomplishments.

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