unspoken rules of online dating?
December 29, 2014 6:34 PM   Subscribe

Please school me on the unspoken rules of online dating.

I don't expect to be doing online dating very long. I am a progressive nonreligious person in a conservative religious area, and it's a small city. So just a few search parameters narrows it down on OKC to a dozen or so people. Among them: one of my company's board members. Not a direct supervisor, not involved in salaries or individual HR matters, etc.

So because the pickings are slim, I am pretty outgoing & have no problems messaging people. I have in my profile "this is a smallish town - say hello if you recognize me from real life." Because why not? I messaged one person I recognized & we had a pleasant back-and-forth before wishing each other well.

So, am I doing it wrong? Are people supposed to pretend they don't know each other? Do I message the board member? It's an interesting profile. And what other unspoken rules are there? Not that I'll follow them, but it would be good to understand the landscape a bit.

(Not putting my profile link here but more than happy to share with anyone who PMs me for it - would welcome feedback.)
posted by headnsouth to Human Relations (17 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: poster's request -- cortex

I'd recommend against dating someone in your organization, online or off. There are so many ways it can go wrong that could hurt your career. Probably not what you want to hear, but best to keep those parts of your life firewalled.
posted by Alterscape at 6:38 PM on December 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you see someone who you think you know, pretend that you didn't see them. Unless you actually want to date them.
posted by wye naught at 6:40 PM on December 29, 2014 [15 favorites]

Not necessarily an unspoken rule, but an observation I have made is that females who write "just looking for friends" on their dating profiles don't always (or usually?) get taken seriously.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 6:46 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really wouldn't message the board member. It could come off very weird and sort of aggressive in a pretty ugly way. It might not come off that way, but I can't imagine anything positive resulting from it. Best case scenario it's neutral. Why risk it?

If I see a good friend's profile I will send them a jokey message, but only very good friends. I see neighbors and random acquaintances all the time online and I politely move on and don't look at their profiles as that feels like a bit of an invasion of privacy. Whether they want children, are looking for NSA sex or whatever is really none of my business.

Online dating necessitates making public personal things you generally never would put out there for public consumption. They are usually innocuous and ultimately inconsequential, but that doesn't make them any less private.
posted by whoaali at 7:18 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

progressive nonreligious person in a conservative religious area

In a similar situation here, and my experience has been that a lot of guys who don't fit into the community will downplay those aspects in their profile because they are trying to maximize the numbers game. A profile that says middle-of-the-road politically, or Christian and laughing about it, might be making themselves sound as far to the right and as religious as they could theoretically tolerate, when they might prefer to be much less so.

If you recognize someone from real life on OKC, and you might want to go on a date with them, just ask them on a date next time you see them in real life. As for the board member, I would block them on OKC to maintain privacy. I wouldn't want someone I work with seeing that I'm replying to messages frequently, or currently online, or other TMI stuff that OKC tends to show other users.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:21 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I have added a link to my profile on my MeFi profile page. Would appreciate feedback especially as it regards this question.
posted by headnsouth at 7:22 PM on December 29, 2014

I don't know that messaging someone just to say, hey, we live in the same small town! is a good idea. Because then what if you see them in real life? What if you HAVE seen them, and they haven't seen you, or vice versa?

When I was on OKC I got a message from someone in my small town, saying he had seen me on a date at the local coffee shop. It was SUPER CREEPY, considering a) I had no idea who he was, and b) he didn't have a profile picture.

Don't do that.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:53 PM on December 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

I guess I should clarify - yes, of course message them if you want to meet up or ask them on a date, but not otherwise. The guy who messaged me just wanted to let me know he'd seen me (and also to disparage my date) - that's all. He had seen me around. Creepy.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:56 PM on December 29, 2014

Your okcupid account isn't viewable by non-members, just so you know.
posted by Slinga at 8:35 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

People who work at the same place go on dates all. the. time.

You're apparently intrigued by him. You said his profile was interesting, and you took the trouble to post this question about him. If you're actually interested in going on a date with him, send him a message and see where it goes.

If he isn't interested, or even if he finds it a little inappropriate, he'll probably just ignore it and act like it never happened. The sky isn't going to fall. Life is short. Go for it.
posted by John Cohen at 8:57 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

A board member isn't (or shouldn't be) part of the daily business of an organisation, so is relatively low risk compared with a potential relationship with another staff member. Not no risk, though. You know your organisation better than anyone else here and the people involved, though. I don't agree with the widely-held view here that workplace relationships are a no-go zone - a huge proportion of people meet their life-long partner at work.

I don't see why there would be a blanket taboo against contacting people you know (he says, not having been on a date for 20 years). If it's a small town, it's almost certain that you've both seen the other person's profile and it seems kind of weird to just pretend that you haven't.

I like your profile - it has enough information to get a good sense of who you are, without any over-sharing. It left me wanting to find out more about you. Don't panic, I mean that in an objective, you asked for feedback way. I am 14,991 km away, anyway ;-).
posted by dg at 9:11 PM on December 29, 2014

I've served on a couple of corporate boards. There are lots of different boards. But in my experience, most boards serve a special role within an organization (with respect to regular employees that you might date), often posited on firm independence. Bill Gates notwithstanding, I would *never* consider dating anyone at a company I was on the board of, and would consider someone who did unfit for the role. Considering the breath of oversight the board has, it's by definition a conflict of interest.
posted by kjs3 at 9:23 PM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

I liked your profile and apparently we are a good match, aside from the fact that we are both women and like men. So maybe we can just be friends from a very long distance, even though you don't want online/distance :) I just realised my browsing is on private, so you probably won't see that I visited.

I would consider swapping your main profile pic to one of the others. Only because the main one now was taken in low light and perhaps you have zoomed in on the pic, so it looks grainy and that makes you look much older. The others were a pleasant shock! Maybe the pic with kid1 post-vote if you can highlight you (you know how you can drag the box to be around your face when you select the pic?), that was my favourite.

Also, I would consider dropping the first sentence of "I'm not sure what I'm looking for". I often read this as tire kicking or a reluctance to put it out there that you are looking/have space for someone else.

As you can see, the advice varies as to whether to contact people you recognise or not. My two-cents is that I have done it with people that I recognise from friends' parties etc that I haven't spoken with much and it hasn't been successful. But I have also pretended not to recognise people from OkCupid that I have happened to meet in person because I felt that mentioning it would be suggesting that I was open to dating them, when in fact, there was a reason why I hadn't already contacted them online and meeting them in person just confirmed it.
posted by AnnaRat at 9:55 PM on December 29, 2014

I think you have a great profile. It sounds very honest and gives a good impression of who you are and what you expect.
From my experience online-dating doesn't have particular rules. I feel it is similar to the 3D real life as you meet a variety of characters who just follow their own 'rules'. Therefore it is important to communicate what you expect, so someone who does read your profile knows what is ok to write.
My personal opinion is that once you have a profile on the internet that clearly identifies you (pictures) you decide that other people can and will see that. And it is up to you what you share. I wouldn't be offended at all if someone texted me who knows me from the outside world at all. But this could be a cultural thing as well.
I hope you will meet someone nice!!!
posted by eternitypost at 4:11 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

No unsolicited penis pics.
posted by starbreaker at 8:19 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Looking at your profile, please get rid of the first two paragraphs. They come off as very dismissive of people who are looking for dates online and also overly self-conscious.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:06 AM on December 30, 2014

I would nix the first sentence since it contradicts the rest of the paragraph. It sounds like you do know what you want.

I would also consider nixing the part where you say you're skeptical of online dating. To me, it sends the message that you will be wishy washy about meeting in person.

I would change this part of your profile:

Very few men on here meet my search criteria (nearby, nonsmoker, nonreligious, leftish) so if your profile interests me, I'll message you. I hope you'll do the same.

So that it reads:

I lean left in politics, am a non-smoker, and am non-religious. I'm looking for the same in a partner.

I would remove the part where you say that you will message someone if their profile interests you since that seems like a given.

Lastly, you might want to consider putting details in about your career/job. I think it's important because potential matches might want to make sure that you are financially capable of taking care of yourself.

Overall, I think your profile looks great though!
posted by parakeetdog at 11:09 AM on December 30, 2014

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