What are the dating rules in 2016?

Whether you’ve been divorced for a while, separated, widowed or single, there comes a time in your life when you just know that you are emotionally ready to meet someone special.

While that can be an exciting feeling, it can also present with a few concerns and a barrage of questions. The whole idea of dating again may seem like a new frontier as long gone are the days when meeting someone was just a case of starting a friendly conversation at the bus stop, meeting Mr Right at a backyard BBQ or at the local dance.

However, in some ways dating hasn’t changed at all. It’s still a way of trying to find someone you’re compatible with, it’s just that it’s more technologically driven these days and that can be a little daunting for some. 

Rachel Smith, a Sydney-based journalist and relationship advice columnist at realitychick.com.au, says that nowadays technology – such as personal computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets – “drives a lot of our interactions” so it makes sense to have a dating profile online. 

Getting started

If you’ve never compiled an online profile before, consider looking at other people’s profiles online first to see what they’ve written and how they’ve presented themselves. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery, right?!

While we’re not suggesting that you do a carbon copy, it might spark some ideas about what you want to say about yourself. Try and think of something unique about yourself that will stand out.  

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First impressions not only matter on the first date but also when creating your online profile

Remember, too, says Smith, that good, clear writing with proper grammar and spelling is likely to be noticed by many people, “As first impressions go, it’s hugely important.”

Be yourself

Smith adds that it’s not wise to “pretend to be someone you’re not or exaggerate your online profile”. Use current, clear photographs of yourself, such as a friendly, open-faced headshot (without sunglasses is better, so people can see your eyes), plus a mix of casual and formal shots that reflect your lifestyle. But be careful not to include other people in your photos as this can be both confusing to the online dater – and it also risks privacy issues.

“You’re trying to meet someone you’re compatible with as a person,” says Smith. “Don’t wait for perfection, be open to dating a wide range of people – and multiple dating [seeing several people for initial dates] is acceptable to a lot of people.”

While “rules” as such are a matter of personal taste, there are some online dating tips that can come in handy.

Rachel Smith’s top dos and don’ts of dating:

  • Do go on dates thinking, “I’m going to meet someone new and hopefully interesting today” rather than “I wonder if he/she will be my future spouse?” It’ll takes the pressure and expectation off the situation and allow you to just have fun and get to know someone.

  • Be honest, and treat people with kindness. Don’t expect the other person to do all the chasing. It’s a waste of time. If you had a good time on the date and you have the person’s number, it’s okay to text them and tell them so. Do what feels right. People are always going to be drawn to authenticity.

  • If you’re “chatting” to someone online, don’t spend weeks doing that. Arrange to meet them in person sooner rather than later. “If you click with someone online, then on the phone, get offline and meet them for a coffee or a drink to see if there is any chemistry in person,” says Smith. “Often there isn’t. The important thing is to meet in person rather than chatting online for months only to find you’ve become way too intimate with someone you don’t really connect with in the flesh.”

  • When you decide to meet them in person, always meet them in a public place and tell a good friend or family member your plans. If you’re someone who likes to play it safe, give someone a link to the person’s online profile. Also, don’t divulge too many personal details too soon. It’s okay to keep it on a need-to-know basis until you have a proper sense of the other person. 

  • It’s not wise to be “high maintenance” on your online profile in the form of listing lots of criteria or deal breakers.

  • Try not to give up after a series of less than successful dates. Remember, we’ve all been there!

Smith says you need to keep a good sense of humour and “an ability to go with the flow” throughout as dating can be as unpredictable as life itself.

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Be open to trying new experiences

Get out of your comfort zone

She says you will have a better time if you stay open to new experiences. “Sure, you can set limits about what you will and won’t do, but dating by its very nature is about getting out of your comfort zone,” she says. “Try new things like suiting up and going to that rock climbing centre, or going to that funky Tibetan restaurant you’ve driven past hundreds of times.”

Obviously, the first date is a key barometer to getting a sense of the other person. While you might feel nervous, remember that you are there to see if you click, and they will probably be nervous too. Keep the conversation light and neutral – and be sure to closely listen to what your date is divulging about themselves. Smith says this is the opportunity to “suss people out”.

Watch out for red flags

“It’s crucial to really listen to what your date is telling you,” she says. “If he’s obsessed with say, golfing weekends or spends all his spare time watching sport and that’s not your thing – this could be a red flag.

“If she talks mostly about her nightmare ex – red flag. Picking up on those nuances or issues that you know won’t gel with you can save you a lot of time and heartbreak.”

There is one aspect of dating that none of us particularly like: rejection. It can be hard when you’ve found the other person attractive and would like to see them again, but it soon becomes clear the feeling isn’t reciprocated. What’s the best way to deal with that?

“Graciously,” says Smith. “It happens. Take a break if you must to lick your wounds and regroup, then get back out there. Life’s too short to wallow for too long.”

So as you look in your wardrobe to see what outfit you might put together for your first online coffee or martini date, what’s the one piece of advice Smith would give to those resuming their dating lives?

“Have courage and have fun,” she recommends.

We couldn’t agree more.

What do you think of modern dating? Let us know in the comments section below.

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