love/after/denim: Do’s & Don’ts of Online Dating

 

As a lad in junior high, I spent four weeks poking my crush’s shoulder, throwing clumps of paper into her hair, and pointing at her bra strap. When I finally asked her out David Cohen’s Bar Mitzvah, her reply was, “Are you f****** kidding me?” Apparently, picking on her hadn’t been an effective way to win her heart.

I’m happy to report that I’ve since learned a thing or two about romance (and now have multiple girlfriends and wives), and I’d like to share my knowledge and experience with you. Welcome to love/after/denim, my column with advice and musings about modern romance.

 
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Modern Romance. The topic has been covered with enough ink and bytes to mistake it for a rapper’s sex tape. And like countless facets of daily life, the dating game has been changed and shaped by technology. Dating used to have consequences. For example: if your friend set you up with a dud, there was no escape: you were destined to run into that person at every one of your friend’s functions until the end of time. Breakups could feel like civil wars as your social circle took sides; workplace dating had the volatility a ballroom filled with mines.

Thanks to tech, your friends no longer have to play matchmaker (except passively, as common Facebook connections on apps like Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel), your office no longer has to double as a breeding ground. Heck, you don’t even need to summon the courage to trek across the bar to ask out the object of your affection. Apps now serve as your wingmen, with messaging significantly mitigating the awkwardness of asking someone out.

 
 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Dating

Do have a good time. Dating should be fun, not a chore. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong.

Don’t let your good time ruin someone else’s. Pay attention to signs, both subtle and obvious. If your DM counter-part isn’t playing along, or they’re responding with one-word answers, consider that they may not be enjoying the conversation as much as you are. If you want to have a one-sided conversation, write a blog.

Do respect that behind that photo is a real person with real feelings. While your screen may keep you at a safe distance, don’t let it turn you into a jerk.

Don’t get hung up on anyone who has communicated that they’re not interested. Maybe they swiped right by mistake; maybe they just changed their mind. You may try to rationalize that you can convince them otherwise, and that if only they knew the real you… NO! Stop. Just STOP. Move on, and find someone who appreciates you.

Do respect the power of the screenshot. Your messages, photos, and videos are never safe or private. Everything you share is just a few keystrokes away from ending up on Reddit creepyPMs.

Which leads me to…

Don’t become fodder for @TinderNightmares.

Do trust your gut. If you suspect your match isn’t all they’re making themselves out to be, chances are you’re right. Always proceed with caution when socializing with someone you haven’t met face-to-face.

 
 

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. This rule covers everything from playing up your job and financial status to adding an inch or two to your height. Technology has made it easier to lie at first, but even if you end up on Catfish first, you will have to meet the person IRL. If you’re honest, you’ll find someone who’s interested in what you’re offering… and you won’t have to spend your dates worrying about being discovered.

Do communicate what you want in your profile. Whether you’re looking to find your forever person or just a one-night stand. Not everyone wants to get married right away, and being upfront will save you that awkward conversation down the line.

(True Story: I once had a woman I matched with on Tinder tell me (before we met) that she was looking to be married and pregnant within 18 months. I appreciated her honesty, and we bid adieu—why waste each other’s time?)

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Do trust your gut. If you suspect your match isn’t all they’re making themselves out to be, chances are you’re right. Always proceed with caution when socializing with someone you haven’t met face-to-face.

Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. This rule covers everything from playing up your job and financial status to adding an inch or two to your height. Technology has made it easier to lie at first, but even if you end up on Catfish first, you will have to meet the person IRL. If you’re honest, you’ll find someone who’s interested in what you’re offering… and you won’t have to spend your dates worrying about being discovered.

Do communicate what you want in your profile. Whether you’re looking to find your forever person or just a one-night stand. Not everyone wants to get married right away, and being upfront will save you that awkward conversation down the line.

(True Story: I once had a woman I matched with on Tinder tell me (before we met) that she was looking to be married and pregnant within 18 months. I appreciated her honesty, and we bid adieu—why waste each other’s time?)

That said…

Don’t announce on your dating profile that you’re looking to Netflix and F***. There are definitely classier ways to broadcast your… fun-loving side.

Do have fun crafting your profile. It doesn’t matter if you’re throwing down a few lines in on tinder or filling out 8 billion points of compatibility on EHarmony; the more you reveal about who you are and what makes you tick, the more likely it is you’ll connect with a good match. Invest the time up front, and reap the rewards down the road.

Don’t smother the flame (or scare it away). Incessant messages can come off as thirsty or obnoxious. And when you do finally take things live, remember that everyone takes a different amount of time to get comfortable IRL; make sure you’re both running at the same speed.

 
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Do be on time. First impressions can make or break a first date, and the last first impression you want to make is that your time is more valuable than others’. If being late is unavoidable, make sure you communicate your tardiness as far in advance as possible… along with an apology. You don’t want her to lose interest before you’ve even arrived.

Don’t send dick pics. Let me say that again: DON’T SEND DICK PICS. Sure, they’re sweet talking you now, but do you want them to have a lasting image of your little general if/when the passion cools?? If you partner wants it that badly, make them earn it up close and personal.

Do loosen up with a drink or two. Dating can be a nerve-wracking experience. Everything about it is meant to test your comfort and endurance. So enjoying a fine libation will help take the edge off and allow you to highlight your best self. Don’t drink? Do something that relaxes you before heading out, whether that’s meditation or a game of Fortnite.

 
 

Don’t get so hammered that you’re unable to control yourself. You’re not in college anymore, Toto, so it’s important to know your limits. Sloppy isn’t a good look for anyone, and should your date turn frisky, you want to make sure your little soldier is able to march.

Do Uber/Lyft to your date so that DUI isn’t even on the table. Bonus: should you move to a second location, you won’t have to figure out car logistics.  

Do be thoughtful. Did your date mention a favorite spot, activity, or restaurant? Boom! You have your first date activity… and your first chance to impress with those listening skills.

Don’t try to mold your date into the partner you think you want; trying to change him/her will inevitably backfire. Instead, keep an open mind, but know when it’s just not going to work. And if you want a companion to be at your beck and call, get a dog.

Do know your deal breakers. Where do you draw the line? Politics, religion, drinking, drug use, children, etc. This is not to say your partner needs to mirror your beliefs 100%, but ignoring certain incompatibilities will just delay the inevitable misery and/or breakup.Use the messaging phase of the relationship to ask some questions (and ease into the bigger ones)… you’ll fill in those awkward text “silences,” come across as engaged and interested, and get some good intel at the same time— an almost unheard of 3 birds with one stone.

Now that we’re all on the same we can kick things up a notch. Next time on love/after/denim: Ghosting… How to Handle Ghosting Without Getting Spooked.

Have a question for love/after/denim? Email love@lifeafterdenim.com


 
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