In a recent comment discussion with a fellow blogger I got to talking about my online dating rules…and figured I should write them down. It helps me stick to them, and I’m curious what everyone thinks.
I didn’t start off dating this way. My priorities were different – have a LOT of sex, feel wanted, reinforce I was attractive to men, and explore dating in all its forms. I succeeded, and it sure did garner a lot of learning and stories for this blog. If you haven’t read my old stories, you can find them on my “men I’ve slept with” page starting at #38.
Two years ago, I didn’t want a serious relationship (I also have a blog post in my head about my definition of “serious”). I didn’t want to be exclusive. But I did want to date – meaning go out and do different things with men I like. More than just the euphemistic “hanging out” at my place.
I realized it’s very difficult to find men willing to put the effort into dates when they aren’t actually interested in having a girlfriend or a relationship. This was a big learning for me and I think it’s something that many of us haven’t really figured out. I could write a whole post on the reality of true “friends with benefits” opportunities.
After I came out of my relationship with Johnny Id last September, things shifted for me. While I was still very much on a journey of sexual exploration, I no longer wanted to deal with the idiocy of engaging with men who aren’t actually on the same page as I. Or who didn’t have at least the potential to be.
There is no middle ground for me now – it’s either engaging specifically for sexual exploration, on a site like FetLife, or pursuing someone to date with the ultimate goal of having a boyfriend, should the right guy come along. I’m not going to settle just because I now know I want someone in my life.
Different priorities means a different approach to online dating. It made a difference last Fall, when I met Tony, and I hope it makes a difference again.
It does mean I’m not engaging with a ton of men at the same time – things are slower – but that’s okay. Having a bunch of men in the “stable” just leads to confusion and dumb mistakes and an ability to really focus on people. I know I missed out on some good men in the early days because I was too busy sexting and communicating with others.
Here are my “rules”.
Rules about messaging on online dating sites:
- Don’t reach out to men first, no matter how great they seem. If they like me, they will message me. While this seems archaic, I also prefer men who are confident and bold, so it’s a good way to weed out those who won’t go for what they want.
- Ignore any messages that come from men who don’t meet my key criteria. The exception would be someone who is exceptionally witty or sweet with their opening message – then I compliment them on their message but say I think we are looking for different things.
My key criteria:
- Between the ages of 35-55. Yes, I increased my age range. I’m done with immaturity.
- They can’t be long distance. Why bother?
- Their profile must say they are looking for a relationship. Sadly, I find “dating” has become a euphemism for “hanging out”, which is in itself, a euphemism for “having sex at your place after I will show up empty handed”.
- On POF if it says “not looking for a relationship or any kind of commitment” I say no, no matter what.
- On OK Cupid the match percentage has to be over 70% and they can’t be more that 20% enemy. The site was created by a statistician and the results are meaningful. Unless they’ve answered few questions…then the other criterion have to apply.
- They have to have put some thought and effort into their profile. If it’s empty, forget it. If it’s obviously written on a smartphone and is rife with spelling and grammatical errors, forget it.
- I really can’t contemplate dating anyone under 5’10” (my height). Perhaps shallow, but it’s my only physical criterion at this point.
- I will really look closely at anyone who isn’t divorced: the reasons should be obvious, given my experience with Tony.
- Their longest relationship has to have been around 5 years or more. If they are in their 40s, it should be higher. I’m pretty sure if you haven’t found someone to put up with you for at least that length of time, there’s a good reason. This isn’t a hard rule for me, but they have to have something in their profile that speaks to why they haven’t had a significant long-term relationship.
Rules about contact:
- If they don’t ask to move to text after several messages back and forth, I stop responding. OR if we are texting and don’t ask to meet, I stop responding. Why? At the core, I think men who do this are either too insecure to meet, OR it’s because they have too many women in rotation and are keeping me on the back burner until they have an opening. Either way, I’ve found when the texting just goes on and on…it never becomes anything more.
- If they are infrequent in their contact, I don’t try to get them to respond by texting again. Generally this means they have lost interest, or someone else has gone to the top of the pile. Either way, I’ve learned that most men will respond if you proactively reach out, but it doesn’t actually mean they are super interested. I wrote a post about this ages ago called “Truths we prefer to not admit“.
- I will not engage in sexting with anyone I haven’t met. If they start to talk about sex (rare, given the criteria above), then I know it’s all they want – regardless of what they say. I may still be open to a sexual exploration with them, but frankly I’m more comfortable with someone from FetLife because I know exactly what I’m getting into.
Rules about first dates:
- The first meeting has to be a coffee or a drink after work. No dinners, no late night meetings. I had too many bad experiences where the chemistry was awful and I was stuck in a dinner. I also know that given my libido, it’s much easier for me to decide “oh what the hell, why not take him home and have sex with him” if it’s late and I’m lubricated with alcohol.
- If a man recommends something more extreme for a first time meeting – like a trip away or something that’s all day… it’s a HUGE red flag for me. Mature men who are also experienced daters know that chemistry is important – if they are willing to forego that, then there is something else going on and I’m unlikely to like it.
How I think about dates before I meet someone:
- I no longer let myself get carried away thinking someone is going to be amazing. Perhaps this sounds cynical and sad, but the truth is until I’m face to face with someone, I just don’t know what kind of chemistry we will have. Too many times we were great on the phone or by text and in person it just wasn’t there.
- I don’t get carried away with crazy texting all day multiple days before I meet someone. It’s too much mental and emotional commitment before we meet. I keep the communications to a reasonable pace.
What do you think? Are these too harsh? Reasonable? Do you think you are a fantastic catch and I would eliminate you based on these rules?
[EDIT: I completely forgot another rule. I’m not going to have penetrative sex with anyone on the first date. I might try for the second as well, but don’t want to set myself up for failure…]