Online Dating Etiquette: Rules For A New Way To Date

Updated September 6, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Online dating is still a relatively new phenomenon. only hit the scene in 1995, and since then, many different dating sites and apps have been created, making it incredibly easy to meet people online. More and more often, you hear stories of people who fell in love online. But what we mean by this is that they "met" online. There's still real work to do for a relationship to blossom. By introducing technology, a whole new set of rules was developed to find "the one" through online dating.

Even though it's easy to find interesting people online, it can still be difficult to get a date in the real world. Dating coaches are now talking about the right pictures to post and how to write a profile page that will attract the right person. Then, when you're matched in some way, people are being ghosted or shocked by the person they were talking to. This leads to dating fatigue and low self-esteem in individuals.

So, what is online dating etiquette? How do you use the platforms available to find a good match and date in real life? Here's what people have to say.

Don't Set Up Profiles On All Of The Websites And Apps

It Can Be Tricky To Navigate The World Of Online Dating

As stated before, there are too many websites and apps to count these days. This doesn't mean you have to sign up for all of them. Less is more when it comes to online dating. Since each service caters to a specific need or demographic, do the research to see which services will best suit you. There are sites for people with dogs, for people who follow different religions, for those with occupations such as farmers, and more. Then, the apps let you swipe or only allow communication when a woman allows it. Each service will have testimonies and FAQ sections.

Make An Honest Profile

Being true is the number one dating etiquette. When making your profile, be super honest with yourself. Select pictures that show your full body, highlighting your interests or personality, and that have flattering angles. If you can't find good photos, get someone to take new ones! It's worth it to put your best foot forward. Damona Hoffman, a dating coach interviewed for  O Magazine, said that your photos should follow the three C's: color, context, and character. Hoffman also says to be specific when writing out your profile. Say exactly what you need, from family values to weekend activities. Try to let go of some of your physical wants, such as hair color and body shape. The more you interact with the dating site, the closer to what you're looking for will present itself to you. The dating coach Laurel House allows for only three deal breakers with her clients. So, if you have an absolute deal-breaker, you should make that known as well.

Don't Be Too Picky

When you start looking at possible matches, be careful not to be super picky in the beginning. They might not be the "ideal" look or have something in their profile you're not sure about, but they might seem nice and check off what you need in a relationship. It's okay to start talking to people like that. Since you start messaging online, you don't have to commit yet. Instead, you're starting the process of getting to know them. You won't get to know everything online as some things you have to find out in person, but it's a good way to see if the things you aren't sure of will make or break a possible relationship.

Don't Hide Behind Technology

Getty/Halfpoint Images

There are many people with frustrating stories of online dating adventures. Some get on websites and never get asked on a real date. Some people start talking to a person who seems like a good match based on their profile only to meet in person and see that they were lying. Some have plain old bad dates, where the person is rude or uninteresting. Many people will find the duds. But it's persistence that leads to finding a good match. Don't let the fact that you are starting online fool you. There are real people on the other side of the profile. You start online, but you don't want to end there in the long run.

Take The Conversation Offline

Go on a date after you've been talking with a person for a while. Yes, it can seem scary to meet with a total stranger that you've only talked to online, but you can take precautions. Always meet up, don't let them pick you up for the first date. The date itself doesn't have to be long, either. Meet for a quick drink or dessert. The first date is for you both to feel each other out. That way, if it doesn't go well, you have an out. But if it is going well, you can stretch it out longer.

In a sense, we've always had a buffer between our dates in the people who recommend we start dating a person in the first place. Our friends and family have our best interest at heart, so we trust them more with our dating lives than we might an online website.

There's no question that online dating takes some guts. Meeting strangers is hard for even the most outgoing people. On top of the same stressors that dating can bring up—wondering if they like you back, if the date went well, if you'll ever find the right person—there's now the added risk of meeting someone who isn't who they say they are. Though online dating has come far since it first began, there's still that underlying fear of being cat-fished or harmed in some way.

Plus, because it's now easy to get ghosted online, many people will start to feel down about themselves. Their self-worth deteriorates because they put themselves out there only to be rejected so many times. What's a single person supposed to do when they have every available option to find a match but no one willing to meet them?

Relationship counseling can help in this case. The dating world can be cruel and unyielding, so it's up to us as individuals to find our worth elsewhere. Using online counseling tools like Regain, we can help ourselves while still searching for the person we'll spend the rest of our lives with.

Getty/Willie B. Thomas
It Can Be Tricky To Navigate The World Of Online Dating

At Regain, our completely online counseling services are offered for singles and couples to talk about their relationship issues, their feelings of self-worth, and many other things that they're having trouble with. By answering a few questions about their needs, people are then matched with the right licensed counselor or therapist. The counselor or therapist will then develop a schedule for them to respond to the patient's needs. The chat rooms are not in real-time, so you can write to the counselor when works best for you.

The counselors with Regain will be there for you through the dating process and can even be there for you once you find a relationship. Chat-based therapy is perfect for people venturing into the dating world. You're already trying to meet people online; why not also get therapy online? At a fraction of the cost of an in-person therapy session—while offering comparable levels of care—there's nothing to lose.


Online dating is quickly becoming the best way to find a match. Though there are difficulties navigating that dating realm, it is the quickest way to meet people in general. If you treat it as a tool rather than a means for conversation, you can get the technology's benefits without getting bogged down by the people who use it for unkind reasons. You can find a good match through online dating, but you have to be persistent and patient. Talking with a therapist can help you get through the hardest of days. For more information about Regain and to be matched with a therapist, go to You are worthy of love and a wonderful relationship. Now is the time to believe it's out there.

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