15 Online Dating Etiquette & Rules You Need to Know

It’s official – the online dating etiquette are important and they have evolved. What worked for you last year might not work for you this year.

“Aww no!”

I know, I know. But here’s the thing: Online dating is complex. People are complex. With more and more dating sites and dating apps popping up, and with more and more men and women joining online dating apps as online dating loses its stigma, the way you approach the whole thing has to be absolutely right. Otherwise, you will lose out 🙁

And no one wants that to happen.

So to give yourself every chance of success, join me as I take a look at 15 online dating rules.

Online Dating Rules & Etiquette You Need to Know

1. Don’t Leave Them Hanging 

For me, it’s just super impolite to wait a whole week to reply to someone. It also gives off the vibe that they’re not looking for anything serious when someone does that.

There’s nothing wrong with taking your time, but if you’re looking to seriously date someone and see where things can go, don’t wait too long to reply.

I’d say replying within 24 hours is a good rule of thumb to live by. It helps to keep the momentum going, it shows interest – but it also doesn’t show too much interest. 

Online dating is a game – whether you like that or not – and you don’t want to show your entire hand by replying too fast all the time. 

2. Don’t Send a Follow-Up Message 

I used to be flexible with the follow-up message.

“Should I send one or not?”

Sometimes I would, sometimes I wouldn’t.

Thing is, if someone is really interested in you, they WILL reply eventually. Even if it’s been a week, they will get back in touch. If you nudge them and say, “Hey! Not heard from you in a while, how’s it going?” you’ll come across as needy … and that will break the attraction.

Always stay cool and in control and never – under any circumstances – get tempted to send a follow-up message. It instantly weakens your position. 

3. Don’t Try To “Change” Them 

They don’t like drinking? Deal with it.

They don’t support your political party? Deal with it.

Don’t spend time on a dating app trying to change someone you haven't even met yet. 

And definitely don’t joke about it either: “I bet I can get you drinking! :D” is just plain rude. 

4. Ask Interesting Questions

I can never understand people who say they don’t ask questions on dating sites because they’re “not really interested” in the other person.

If you’re not interested in them, just don’t reply at all!

If, on the other hand, you are interested, ask them questions. It keeps the conversation going, it’s polite and it shows them you’re interested. 

Not sure which questions to ask? Keep your questions light and mundane from time to time, (“how was your weekend?”) but be imaginative, too.

Inside Scoop: Take a look at this list of questions you can ask on bumble for inspiration.

5. Don’t Be Vulgar 

I know some people who say things on dating apps that they’d never say in real life.

Sometimes, it doesn’t take them long to start “sexting” people. I guess being online makes them more confident. 

But not everyone is going to appreciate that, especially so soon. 

Generally speaking, it’s much better to play things safe by avoiding vulgar talk that could get you un-matched, or at least change the way the other person feels about you. 

6. Don’t Get Political Too Soon

If you have strong political leanings and you’re looking for a comrade, by all means, be political on a dating app.

On the other hand, if you want to broaden your chances of success and see who’s out there, it’s best if you keep politics out of the arena for now. Politics can make folk get angry, and you might show a potential date a side of you they’d probably rather not see just yet. 

7. Don't say “Good Morning.”

If you’ve only been speaking to someone online and haven’t got their number yet, sending a “good morning” message isn’t online dating rules – and it’s also a little weird. 

Whoever you’re talking to is probably talking to someone else, too. Everyone is hedging their bets. As such, you don’t know this person enough so as to get away with a “good morning” message. They’re not your partner; they’re just someone you happen to be chatting to. 

Inside Scoop: Online Dating First Message Examples

8. Use Emojis & Gifs

Did you know that Sending a GIF—instead of a text or emoji—increases the likelihood of receiving a response by 30%, the company has revealed.

Not all dating apps let you use emojis but Tinder does – and they should become your new best friend.

In fact, Tinder lets you send GIFs as well, so use them, too.

Emojis and GIFs help you to express yourself, and they also help to keep the conversation light and fun. 

And that’s really the name of the game. If you want someone to keep talking to you, you have to show them that you’re super fun and laid back.

The last thing you want is for them to think, “Oh gosh, do I seriously have to message this guy again who’s so negative and always talks about politics? And he doesn’t even use emojis!” 

9. Wait a Few Days Before Asking for Their Number 

It just isn’t accepted etiquette to ask for someone’s number straight off the bat anymore. Even in real life, girls (and maybe even guys) are now wary of handing out their number to someone they just met in a bar. Instead, they might offer their Snapchat or Instagram handle. 

I’d say wait until you’re fully in rapport with someone before you ask for their number. Maybe 3-4 days. You could ask for their number sooner and it might work. But it’s just safer to leave it for a few days. 

10. Don’t Add Them To Facebook Either 

People are usually okay with adding you to Instagram. Indeed, many men and women add their handle to their bio. But Facebook is more of a big No-No. Don’t even ask for it. 

Inside Scoop: Online Dating Tips For Success

11. Tell The Truth 

People might have got away with a few white lies back in the day, but not anymore. It’s just too easy to get caught out now that we’re all over social media. 

Not just that, but what if a lie you told on your dating profile begins to spin out of control? Maybe you took 5 years off your age on Tinder because you never expected to meet the man of your dreams. 

Three months down the line, you meet the man of your dreams … but he doesn’t know your real age.

Well it’s going to come out eventually and it might ruin everything. 

Dating has become so casual in 2019 that people think they can get away with telling a few lies. After all, none of us are taking these apps seriously, right? As if we’d meet Prince Charming on Bumble! We just want some fun! 

Lies get the whole thing off to a terrible start and things will just get worse and worse. Always be honest, real and truthful. It will work out better for you in the long run. 

12. Set Up a Date After 5-7 Days 

If you ask for a date too soon, you look needy.

If you ask for a date too late, momentum will drift and someone else will ask them out.

A week or two is the perfect time for a date, but it’s always nice to ask for it, say, 5 days after that first message. 

13. Call Them 

You don’t have to call someone before a potential date, but I find that it’s always beneficial. It can ease the nerves before the date itself, and their friends will notice how serious and genuine you are about this. It’s just a good dating rule that’s never gone out of fashion. 

14. Don’t Be Afraid To Change Your Photos

Some people think it’s not good online dating etiquette to change your profile picture while you’ve been talking to someone for a few days.

Apparently it shows you’re not that interested in them and that you’re still looking to attract new people.

Apparently it’s rude.

Well, we’re all looking to attract new people until we’ve found someone we genuinely connect with in real life!

It’s entirely up to you when you change your profile picture. It shows you’re still looking (which may even ensure the other person raises their game) and it’s totally within your right to do that until you’re officially with someone. 

15. Don’t Be Afraid To Ghost 

Lastly, if it’s just not working for you online with someone, don’t be afraid to go ghost on them. Heck, un-match them if you feel that’s the best course of action!

And, nope, you don’t need to apologise or explain your actions.

If you’re thinking of ghosting or unmatching someone, it clearly isn’t working. So they’re hardly going to be too upset. Maybe they’ve already seen it coming. 

On the other hand, if things are going well but something has come up in your life (maybe an ex has returned or maybe you met someone else), it would be kinda cool if you told the person you were talking to that this just can’t happen anymore.

But, honestly, there’s nothing wrong with just disappearing if you haven’t met yet. It might be sad, but in this day and age where there’s so much choice and so little time, it’s kinda accepted. 

Inside Scoop: How to write the perfect online dating profile


Online dating is hard, right? 


But if you abide by the important rules of online dating, then you’ll have a better chance of getting success with swipe life.