Four online dating rules – that you should break today

Woman trying different online dating rules on her tablet

Online dating guides are everywhere. With one search you can find tips on everything from how to smile in your profile photo to what shoes to wear on a first date. And, while some of it is great, not all advice is worth taking; especially as internet dating blossoms and the online dating rules change along with it.

Here are four of the most commonly accepted online dating ‘rules’ that, actually, you’re best off ignoring if you want to find a compatible connection.

Dating rule #1: Only desperate people try online dating

We’ve all heard catty remarks about how online dating is the last refuge for the desperate; a mercenary wife-or-husband hunt that’s somehow inferior to all other forms of romance.

Here’s the thing though: that picture is just not accurate. Online dating is actually incredibly popular, perhaps because it simply makes sense. After all, what sounds more productive: heading to a bar, hoping that there are other singles there (who also happen to be relationship material) OR heading online to join a community of local singles who have already admitted to being available and who, as a bonus, are introduced to you based on compatibility?

New rule: Online dating is actually pretty normal

Judging by current statistics, many think that option two is the way to go. In fact, research has shown that online dating is now the second most-common way to find a partner, while as many as 1-in-3 marriages start online.1,2 It’s not desperate, it’s increasingly mainstream!

Dating rule #2: Love will come when you least expect it

It’s a rom-com staple – your true love is out there, somewhere, and when the time is right the fates will reveal him or her. All you have to do is be patient and have faith.

Nonsense. That might be a sweet (if overused) plot for a movie, but real life – and real love – just don’t work that way. If you sit around waiting for love to come you, all you’re going to get is bored. The fact is, finding love can take work and, despite what the movies say, it’s ok to embrace this. It doesn’t make the relationship you end up with any less special (or any less real) because you opted to take fate into your own hands.

New rule: It’s ok to work for what you want

So much success in life comes from putting yourself out there and the same is true of online dating. To give yourself the best shot at love, make sure you put the effort in: answering the personality test honestly and ensuring that you have a complete profile (including pictures). Find some examples of dating profiles here.

Dating rule #3: If a man wants a woman; he’ll do the chasing

There’s a dating rule as old as time: if a man is interested, he’ll make it clear. Women shouldn’t waste their time on any man not willing to make the effort as he clearly isn’t all that invested.

In these increasingly equal times, this is one of the dating rules that simply no longer seems useful. Mostly, it’s simply not fair – to anyone involved. Not only is it a huge amount of pressure to put on men, it renders women far too passive, a position that seems entirely at odds with the empowering nature of online dating.

New rule: The first move is in your hands

One of the perks of online dating is that it can help mitigate any nervousness about asking someone out. After all, on a reputable site, everyone around you is there to meet someone. What’s more, if you’re matched with them you already know that they are both available and compatible – so why not say hello?

Dating rule #4: The first date is a really big deal

There are countless dating rules devoted to the big first date, covering everything from wardrobe to behaviour. And they’re all promoting the idea that this date is the biggest, most crucial, first step of your romantic future.

While first date excitement is expected, it’s important to not get too swept up in the drama of it all, especially with someone you’ve met online. In fact, it may be worth viewing your offline encounter as a first meeting rather a first date. The reason for this is simple: matchmaking is an excellent predictor of compatibility, but it cannot predict that indefinable spark that makes attraction happen. And, until you’ve confirmed that, it’s best to keep your hopes in check.

New rule: Second dates are the new first

Of course, there is also a time for butterflies – it just comes one date later than is traditional. Once you’ve met for a coffee (or similar) and confirmed that your online spark extends offline, then it’s perfectly normal to feel the romantic excitement kicking up a gear. After all, by the second date you’ll know that you have the compatibility and the chemistry to really be starting something special.

Ready to throw out the old online dating rules and give the new ones a try? Get started today by registering with EliteSingles – just click here to begin your adventure.

EliteSingles Editorial December 2015

Are there any dating rules that we missed? What are some rules that you think should be broken? Let us know below or email us at [email protected]


1 Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg, writing for the New York Times, June 2015. Found at

2 Gwendolyn Seidman Ph.D., writing for Psychology Today, 2014. Found at

About the author: Sophie Watson

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