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Specific issues

Our list of dating fails

The Internet is full of examples of dating fails, submitted by men and women who’ve found the behaviour of their date peculiar or worse. But, what can we learn from such lists of dating fails?

Our list of dating fails

Online dating seems to be the cause of many of these, presumably because A. it exposes you to a much wider range of singles from all walks of life (many of which may be very different from what you’re used to) and B. being an Internet-related activity, it lends itself to the nastier side effects of the freedom people find in perceived anonymity.

Some things are almost certainly going to be a dating fail regardless of the two people involved because they are just out of place, rude or simply strange. For example, turning up to a date in your boxer shorts is pretty much guaranteed to count as a dating fail. Sending a sexually suggestive first message on a serious dating site is another ill-advised practice that could get you into the dating fail hall of shame.

But not everything is as black and white.

Going over one online list of supposed dating fails involving online dating first messages, I actually found quite a few that were not the least bit rude or untoward. For example, one message simply asked “do you snowboard?”

This message might not be the usual “hello, I liked your profile, if you like mine too, please get in touch”, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, sending a quirky first message is often hailed as a great way to attract attention and if this message was sent by a cute guy to a girl on a dating site, she’d probably use it as an opportunity to get a conversation started regardless of whether or not she was into snowboarding. But it turns out that if you send such a message to the wrong person, you may end up ridiculed.

So what can we learn from such lists of dating fails?

Firstly, that when it comes to social conventions, it helps to not stray too far from the norm during the early days of both your online and offline interaction. Until you know which things your date or new online friend finds normal and which things they find weird, it helps to stay relatively neutral and harmless in terms of clothing, language and controversial topics.

When you meet someone online, there’s no one to vouch for the fact that you’re not a psycho, so people can be a bit oversensitive to what they may perceive as strange habits.

Sure, what you find perfectly normal may still weird them out, but there’s no reason to do it on purpose by trying to be different to make an impression. Use these early days to learn more about them so that you can decide whether or not they are worth the effort and not the other way around.

Another thing to take away from this is that even the most innocent message can be deemed by some to be too weird. Not everyone is going to share your sense of humour. So while it’s good to tone down any dark or controversial jokes when sending out first messages and keep things fairly respectable and harmless, you should also accept the fact that some people are going to find anything apart from “hello” a bit much and just let them get on with it.

When the right person comes along, they won’t think you weird for asking a simple question about a hobby you both might share.

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