by Jasmaine Payne

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Ah, the joys of online dating! Unashamed, I admit that I have subscribed to this alternative means of meeting prospective matches for quite some time now. To date it has blessed me with meeting interesting and refreshingly intelligent men (sometimes).

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The internet shrinks the world into the palms of our hands because it brings people from the other ends of the planet right into our homes.  So the fun of dating has magnified ten-fold.

But like every social setting, Online Dating must operate on some normative code of conduct, and while there are millions of people  who enjoy it immensely, somehow I find that this code of conduct is often times ignored. Out of every 10 people you meet, 8 and a half are jerks. People take for granted the fact that many online daters are genuinely searching for something meaningful. Now, granted, some are simply looking to network, while some just want to meet new friends or maybe even just a fling. But irrespective of your reason for subscribing to this alternative lifestyle, there should be some set of rules that should guide us to ensuring that the experience remains pleasurable- the way it was intended to be. So here are a few rules I believe should be adhered to in the world of Online Dating:

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Be open minded. A major possibility of Online Dating is long distance relationships. If you’re not at least a little willing to have a LDR, stick to just going to the bar and meeting locals. Sure, we are allowed to use location to find people nearby, but part of the joy of the internet is, as I stated before, shrinking the world into the palm of your hands. Meeting someone of another culture, race and country can be an amazing experience – and can also encourage you to travel. So be open minded to meeting new people from wherever they may be. You’re using an ‘abnormal’ means of socializing, so don’t expect normal results!

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Read the Profile. Every site contains this feature where one must endure the agony of writing about themselves: likes, dislikes, what you’re doing with your life, yadda yadda. As annoying as this is, however, I figure it’s a fair request, as many of the sites use this information to match you according to mutual interests, etc. Imagine how annoying it is when people just sidestep all that information and continue to ask me questions that I’ve already placed for the world to see.

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No ‘one liners’. ‘Hey!’ , ‘What’s up?’, ‘Hey, how are you?’ ‘How was your day’ – O.M.G! When I  see these unimpressive, generic opening liners from a potential ‘match’, my attention span immediately dissipates. THIS IS NOT INSTANT MESSAGING! This is an inbox. Write me something! Pay attention to what I said and respond. Introduce yourself. Take the time to make a meaningful impact on the person you’re approaching.

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Photographs are not superficial, they are mandatory! I never understand why people don’t use photographs on their profile. You aren’t meeting in person, and this isn’t blind dating. Therefore, photographs become a paramount characteristic. And if you want to be a smartass, I mean photographs of you! I don’t need to see ten photos of cats and dogs and landscapes. You need to be in at least one of them. Also, group pics are annoying. This is the age of selfies, so don’t tell me you couldn’t find (or take) at least one photo of you alone. No one cares what your friends or family looks like. They’re looking for you. The group pics may even work to your disadvantage if they end up liking someone and it’s not you…oops. And if you’re going to pose with someone of the opposite sex, you should specify who they are ( hint hint: it shouldn’t be your current/ex-partner… I mean, inappropriate much?)

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Make sure your photos are current. It could be off-putting to think you are talking to someone with say, 140 lbs with a beard or blonde hair (as per their profile pics) and when you meet beard is gone or their hair is red and they’re also much bigger (or smaller) because that pic was from five years ago.

These are simple examples, but you get the point. People need to see what you look like now.

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Don’t be a silent stalker. To maximize the opportunity to communicate, most sites show you who has visited your page. Now I can understand that everyone who reads my information won’t always like what they see, so may decide not to approach me. On the other hand, there are those blatant stalkers who never say anything but visit your page every single day nevertheless. No. You like me, say something. You don’t, keep on moving. Simple.

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Don’t request naked pics or cybersex.  This is just plain sleazy, outdated, desperate and perverted. End. Of. Story.

Be honest.  Try at all times to just let everyone know who you are. Not that you need to be an open book- in cases where you have very private information which you won’t disclose to just everyone- but do at least ensure that once conversation has been initiated,  you let  the person know within a reasonable amount of time (and you should try to do this before you meet or at least on the first date) about any information you believe may be pertinent. By this I mean: kids or no kids, marital status, health issues etc. People have a right to know.

CATFISH

Beware of Catfish. Catfishing is basically saying you’re someone you’re not; that is, creating a whole other person and pretending to be them: girls pretending to be guys, guys pretending to be girls, ‘ugly’ people posing as ‘attractive’ people, using different names, and the list goes on. Have your catfish radar on peak at all times: look for credibility, see whether stories add up, suggest video chat to ensure the pics are authentic, look for more than one pic.  P.S beware of profiles with model pics only or just one photograph. Not that these might not be real people, but many times (in fact, more often than not) they are fake. If you see only model pics and no normal pics, ask them to video chat at some point after beginning conversation, or if there is one pic, ask for more later on. I mean, it’s bad enough that this is the digital age and people are still getting catfished (dude… :/ how??) but you could never be too careful. Are you being catfished? Click here to find out!

Only ask to move to another forum after substantial time has elapsed. Correspond with the person long enough on the site before you decide to move to another forum (video chat, number exchange, instant messaging and most importantly, meeting in person. There’s nothing worse than giving your information to someone who turns out to be a disaster of an experience.

Be careful. As with all things, there are risks involved with Online Dating. Pervs really do lurk behind many screens, we’ve seen the stories. Again, get to know the person. When deciding  to meet, do so in a public setting- obviously. Judge for yourself what kind of person they are before you decide to go further. Especially when travel is involved, this step becomes the most important of them all. You are risking a lot to ensure that your emotions that budded from a screen are real and that this person is safe and trustworthy since you are going to be by yourself in a strange place with them, it is therefore important that you do all your necessary checks (background, if possible- though this may be farfetched). One specific bit of advice I’d give here if traveling to meet someone is that you ensure that you have your own accommodation. It may be obviously cheaper to stay with your potential love, but apart from that being a bit too fast too soon, it is also very risky. But this is where all your catfishing and security conscious senses would come into play. Overall, it is indeed a risk, but once you take the necessary precautions and are careful every step of the way, you will find that some risks are indeed work taking. Even if you are attracted to the person and may want to take things to the next level, follow these tips to stay safe.

For more articles and features on artists and other lifestyle posts visit my site:

www.missjazmania.com

Jasmaine Payne

jasmainepayne@yahoo.com

jasmainepayne@gmail.com