1. Not having a profile picture.
Really, take the five seconds required to upload one. Snap a selfie with your phone at the very least. Even the most severely angled-from-above photo is better than Grayfaced Gary. We’ve all seen an episode or two of Catfish. We now know to be wary of what lies beyond the mask.
2. Making awkward jokes about how many other people they might be talking to as well.
From here on out, the medium on which you’re conversing is the unspeakable. This is the unsaid. You already know why you’re both on this website. You’re hopefully here to meet someone. You do not need to ask what drove the other person to set up an account or download an app (hint: it’s probably what drove you to set up an account or download an app, too) and you definitely don’t need to sniff out your competition by self-deprecatingly asking if they’re talking to anyone else. The realm of online dating is now Figh… well, that one club we’re not allowed to talk about.
3. Starting entire conversations with a monosyllabic “Hey.”
Do you really want to start the rest of your life with this person with the bare minimum of greetings when you can put in slightly more effort and try to prove that you’ve read the person’s profile? It may be hard to make a witty remark about the other person’s interests if there’s little to go on in the their profile, but a simple “How are you?” is a question that opens the door to a magical fairytale land of magic and wonder and—of all crazy things—communication.
4. Turning your profile into a round of Where’s Waldo?
When choosing your profile photos, try to make sure that every photo doesn’t feature you and your six closest friends. There’s nothing wrong in displaying how tight you and your friends are, but making someone guess at which person is the same in every photo can get exhausting, especially if each of the five different photos feature the exact same group of friends. Besides, saying that if someone wants to be your lover, they have to get with your friends is a recipe for absolute disaster. (The Spice Girls did break up for a minute there, after all.)
5. Googling a person the minute you learn their last name.
Try to resist this urge. At the very least, try to resist the urge to immediately send them a friend request on Facebook. In this day and age, it’s so easy to learn every last minute detail of someone’s life, but wouldn’t you rather wait for them to tell you? If you already know everything, how are they ever going to keep your attention when you’re actually on a date?
6. The bathroom-mirror-muscles-flexing-stomach-sucked-in-shirt-optional selfie.
Are we still doing this as a thing? Does it work? I really don’t even mean to take a stance on this, but I had to include it because I’m just so genuinely intrigued as to how this became the business casual of the dating world.
7. Going overboard with the emojis.
Try to keep the smiley faces to a minimum. It may prove difficult at first when you don’t even know what to say to a relative stranger, but smileys are the turbo boosters of your conversation. Use them sparingly so as to preserve their power. Anything above one winky face per every 10 responses borders on creepy.
8. Egregiously misspelling words.
Text speak is one thing, but automatic spell check is a standard feature on most devices these days. It is a wonderful feature at that. Don’t ignore it. If that angry little red line pops up under a word, it’s trying to do you a favor by making sure you come across as intelligent. Brains never hurt anyone, baby. Let spell check be your wingman.
9. Letting messages marinate in your inbox.
When you receive a message from someone you like, don’t try to play it aloof and cool by deliberately refusing to answer for a few days. Modern technology has evolved to the point where, unless you’re on a desert island, you can check your emails. You’re not going to appear needy if you reply sooner rather than later. In fact, you’re going to seem like you actually respect that person’s time.
10. Being the taken person with an active account.
If you eventually do wind up in a relationship, don’t add a disclaimer that you’re no longer using your profile and call it a day. Delete it. Keeping your account active is like keeping a credit card in your wallet even if you say you’re not going to use it is dangerous. It’s better to stick that puppy in a block of ice in the freezer, only to thaw after a bitter, bitter break up. But hopefully that won’t happen to you and your cyber cutie. (Hey, somebody’s got to be the real-life couple in all those commercials. Who’s to say it won’t be you?)