Practical Romance: 11 Online Dating Tips (What Not To Do)

After my first long-term relationship broke up, I was single for 10 years. Given how beautiful, intelligent and witty I am – not to mention modest – my friends and family were often perplexed by my inability to find someone special.

What made me perplexed was the complete lack of intervention, not to mention zero online dating tips. Not once did a friend or family member try to set me up on a date. I even went to a dinner party one night and, in true Bridget Jones style, was the only single person there. There were five Smug Married Couples and me.

No effort was made whatsoever to a) invite a single eligible bachelor or b) invite a single woman to make me feel less crap about being the only one there alone.

“The only thing worse than smug married couples, lots of smug married couples.” – Bridget Jones.

After spending years joining all sorts of groups – bushwalking, basketball, sailing, triathlon – online dating was my only option.

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While I didn’t eventually meet the man of my dreams online, I certainly gave it a red hot go – going on at least 50 online dates and chatting online to hundreds of men. I learned a few things about the human condition I would otherwise never have discovered. I don’t regret a thing.

And while I’m the first to confess that I didn’t do the right thing 100% of the time, I sure learnt a lot. I think it’s important none of this valuable experience goes to waste, so here is some practical online dating etiquette suitable for beginners and more seasoned daters. My advice is to men, but I’m sure some of it applies to women as well.

I’d love to hear more tips from you that can be shared with others. I’d also love to hear some tips from men for women as well. That’s a whole new practical romance piece right there!

When Online Dating Don’t …

1. When you message her don’t say “I like chubby girls.” Chubby? That’s seriously the best adjective you could think of? Mind you, if you say ‘bigger’ or ‘fuller figured’ or ‘voluptuous’ you’re also going to lose. I mean, fetish much? Do you seriously only like plus size girls? What happens if she loses weight? Will you stop liking her then? If you’re trying to make her feel better, you’re not. You’ve simply noticed her curves rather than caring about what’s inside – which ultimately matters more than her curves or lack of curves, surely? If you like the look of her, say ‘I think you’re beautiful’ then ask her a question about her hobbies or her brain or her spirit. Also, skinny girls are awesome too. Branch out.

2. On your online profile, don’t put a photo of yourself from 10-15 years ago. If you have grey hair and wrinkles, she wants see them from word go – she’s going to eventually (very soon, if you play your cards right). Once she gets to know you, of course she’ll want to learn more about you and look at all your old photo albums, but she’s not dating the ‘you’ from 10 years ago. She’s dating the ‘you’ now. She wants to perve at you, the grey fox. She wants to fall in love with that man. Or not, as the case may be.

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GREY FOX: She wants to fall in love with the you now, not the past you.

3. Don’t get your hopes up at all. Don’t get excited and tell her before meeting her that she’s the woman of your dreams. She’s the one who has to put up with the look of disappointment on your face when you meet in real life and discover you don’t click at all. Play it cool. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

4. If there’s something unusual about you, tell her before you meet. She’s not going to judge you before meeting you and, if she is the judgy type, she’s not going to magically fall for you after you’ve carefully manoeuvred her into meeting you. It’s just – if you have a stutter – she’d like to be prepared so she can move beyond that as quickly as possible rather than spending the whole date wrangling it alone in her head and pretending it’s something she’s not allowed to talk about.

5. Don’t put a heartfelt online profile up presenting yourself as available and then break it to her later, after a few dates, that you’re not ‘emotionally available’. Once seeing the clear disappointment on her face along with her words ‘That’s really disappointing’, don’t then proceed to suggest you both go back to your place for some ‘fun times’.

6. Speaking of ‘fun times’, don’t assume – just because she has a profile picture that shows some cleavage – that she wants to immediately start talking to you online about sex.

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SEXY SELFIE: Just because she’s showing some cleavage, doesn’t mean she wants to immediately start talking about sex.

7. If you’re 20 and she’s 40, don’t try to convince her that’s you’re the best lover she’ll ever encounter. You’re not that good in bed. You’re only 20. On the issue of age differences, if you’re 45 and she’s 25, when she says she loves Nicki Minaj, don’t say ‘Oh, my daughter loves her too’.

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HOT STUFF: Just because you’re 20 doesn’t mean you’re the be all and end all in bed.

8. Don’t go out with someone six times in 2 weeks and not attempt to hug or kiss them. You’re clearly not attracted to them. You’re using them for their brains, their sense of fun or their mutual love of [insert your favourite thing here]. Stop it.

9. Don’t be self deprecating. We all have insecurities, but she doesn’t really need to know online or even on the first date how much you hate the size of your girth, the lack of hair on your chest or the length of your penis. Let her be the judge of that. Until then, own it.

Practical Romance - Online Dating Tips - Modern Canvas - Cartoon10. Avoid grand gestures on the first date. If you know she’s interested in theatre, don’t turn up to the first date with surprise tickets to Wicked for that night. This is a get to know you session. Both of you deserve the luxury of a free ‘way out’ with no strings attached.

11. There’s a limit to how many times you can arrange a date and cancel. After cancelling the 5th time and then begging for another chance, do not expect another chance. You can cancel once, but no more than that. Similarly, there’s no point continuing to chat with someone online if they’re clearly not interested in meeting in real life. Delete.

Today, despite meeting my one true love in real life, I still believe online dating is the best way to meet new people. I have many friends who met online and ended up finding a partner in crime. And some of the blokes I met I still count as friends.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Please comment below.


Eli is Canvas Factory's resident blogger and social media buff. She has a passion for art, craft, design, fashion and photography. She loves to explore the joys and challenges of family life, relationships, motherhood and pet ownership. Eli finds it's more funny to poke fun at herself than others. She's travelled extensively and considers herself a citizen of the world.