Between you and me: Online dating etiquette

Between you and me: Online dating etiquette

Lisa Vallejos

My work as a dating and relationship coach presents a lot of fun and unique situations that my clients present to me. Online dating is a unique way of meeting people but it does not have to be negative, traumatic or a lot of work if you follow simple guidelines. Here's a quick list of Do’s and Dont’s of online dating, which have come from real-life situations, along with a quick bit of advice: Enjoy the process, and be sure to have fun!

Do: Be honest in your profile. While it is totally appropriate to put your best foot forward, telling exaggerated versions or outright lies is simply not acceptable.

Do: Use current photos - from at least within the last year, and ideally, the last three to six months. Using photos that are from when you were 30 pounds lighter and 10 years younger will only serve to make your date feel deceived.

Do: Take the time to actually read the profile of a person before you message them. While physical attractiveness is important, it is not the only thing that matters. If you message someone and have no basic knowledge upon which to start a conversation, the person will likely be uninterested and maybe even feel objectified.

Do: Accept rejection gracefully. If someone says “no thanks” or doesn’t respond at all, don’t take it personally. By all means, do not send incessant messages asking why they won’t respond or attacking them when they say “no thanks.”

Do: Have standards. Know what works for you and stick to that. Standards are in place to keep you safe.

Do: Be yourself. If you want a steak, eat it. If you wear makeup usually, do the same for your date but don’t do something that’s totally not who you are just to get someone’s attention. When you do that, you create false expectations that you won’t be able to maintain long-term. Show up as yourself and allow your date to appreciate the awesomeness that is you.

Don’t: Have high expectations. In fact, I would suggest you let go of any expectations at all. You don’t know the person you are meeting and it could go great or it could be a total bust. If you have high expectations, you will likely be disappointed.

Don’t: Look for perfection. Figure out what is most important to you and make those features your focal point. An endless laundry list of personal and professional characteristics will greatly narrow your options. Keep your non-negotiable items to a reasonable minimum.

Don’t: Rush the process, though most of us have made that mistake. Jumping in too quickly usually ends poorly. Take your time, follow your own guidelines and allow the process to unfold on its own.

Don’t: Take this too seriously. It’s just a date, not the rest of your life.

Don’t: Fall in the trap of pseudo-intimacy. The online world has created a unique culture, with unique challenges. Because we know so much about a person from their profile we might feel like we know them already, and it fosters a false sense of intimacy. Beware of falling in that trap! Just because you know facts about a person or their narrative doesn’t mean you actually know them. Reserve judgment until you actually meet them and get to know them in person.

Lisa Vallejos, MA, is a dating and relationship coach in the Bay Area. She is originally from Colorado, where she is a licensed professional counselor. Lisa can be reached at or at