5 Basic Rules Guys Can't Seem to Follow on Dating Websites

I have plenty of friends who have met their significant others online and, with zero exceptions, these relationships are composed of two people who are definitely perfect for each other and are exactly the kind of thing I want for myself. That's why I decided to try online dating.

Also, nearly every word of that is a lie. I gave the online thing a go because I have a very casual approach to dating, and by casual I mean lazy. Online is always the laziest way to do things. I expected online dating to be a lot like buying Christmas presents on Amazon: easy, efficient, and guaranteed delivery in 48 hours.

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Possibly by way of a drone of some sort.

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Nope! Turns out this shit takes way more effort than I realized. A big part of that effort involves the usual hassles that come with doing practically anything online: deleting countless inappropriate messages, fielding emails from people hoping to be featured on the next episode of MTV's Catfish (Reminder: Famous people don't need online dating; no one believes you), flat-out indecent proposals, and, of course, the occasional message asking if I'm interested in being a dom for a submissive (I'm not).

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Those are the things we've all come to expect from dealing with strangers in general for decades now. If you don't believe your parents (let's be honest, I mean your dad) had the means to be creepy and aggressively inappropriate just because the Internet didn't exist, you've obviously never seen that Crazy Love documentary.

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That doesn't mean things aren't different now, though. I've come across a handful of recurring dating blunders that seem to be mostly plagues of the modern age. We do have new weapons at our disposal, and it's clear that a lot of us (again, you know exactly who I mean) have no concept of how to wield them responsibly. I like to give these offenders the benefit of the doubt, because I assume they just don't know any better and I'd prefer not to die alone, so sometimes it seems like there isn't much choice.

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Still, dreaming is cheaper than any dating-site membership, so I hold out hope that I'll see the day when people ("people") will ...

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5
Keep Your Damn Shirt on (Literally and Figuratively)

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First, one question for guys who post pictures of themselves without a shirt on: why? Seriously, if a single one of you could explain the thought process that takes place prior to you uploading a picture of yourself sans shirt, I'm all ears. Because here's the thought process that happens when I come across one of those pics:

1. No.

That's it. I don't bother to read the profile to find out whether or not you volunteer your spare time helping rescue animals or if you're the perfect blend of smart and silly, listing A Brief History of Everything as the last book you read and ranking Spaceballs among your favorite movies of all time.

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Great choice if so, but you're still a creep.

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Posting that picture sends the message that you have nothing else to offer besides nice abs. Or that all you're going to do is obsess about your abs or be the kind of guy that lifts his shirt at the gym to check out his own abs in the mirror, which incidentally is possibly one of the douchiest things humanity ever realized it could do.

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Don't get me wrong, abs are never a bad thing, but no matter how strong your core may be, it's not the foundation of a relationship. Unless that "relationship" is to take place between the hours of 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. and you won't be talking. In which case, game on!

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Figuratively speaking, some of you need to keep your shirt on, as in pump the brakes, which I accept is also just a figure of speech, but if you don't understand by now, the source of your chronic loneliness probably goes way deeper than anything I can help you with here.

Anyway, what I'm saying is that your first message to a girl shouldn't ever be a dissertation about your life that covers everything up to the moment right before you messaged.

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Awww, look how harrowing!

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It also should never include your phone number. Sending a girl your phone number in the very first message is the online dating equivalent of offering candy out of a windowless van. I'm just assuming anyone who gives out their number so haphazardly is using a burner phone and lives in a motel on a back highway and that his profile picture will be all over the news any day now.

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4
Stop Speaking in Hyperlinks

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Your online dating profile isn't a multimedia art installation. Seriously, use your words. And if you can't use your words, using half a dozen YouTube links doesn't suffice. This is not 2006, and you are not on MySpace. If I wanted to watch a bunch of shitty YouTube videos I would just turn on Tosh.0.

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Joking, I totally wouldn't.

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A profile full of hyperlinks is like the pop-up book of online dating profiles. Sure, at first the novelty of it may seem fun, but they don't last very long and you never go back for a repeat performance. I'm not entirely sure that's the message you want to convey, no matter what your end game might be.

I know not everyone is a writer, and I know how tedious writing an online dating profile can be, regardless of your writing ability. But at least make the effort. What you say and how you say it gives the potential reader a glimpse at your personality and, hopefully, an idea of how to approach a conversation with you. Don't try writing something that makes you look like a good writer, just write like you're having a normal conversation with a friend.

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"So I was like, no, the cuff on your jeans looks stupid."

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If you're having that hard of a time, just keep it short and simple and spend the time you save fussing over what to say contemplating why, even in your head, none of your friends want to talk to you.

3
Don't Copy and Paste Your Messages

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This is not only super obvious but it makes you look super desperate. It also looks like you're just throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. Also, exactly how many women are you messaging that you can't take two minutes out of your life to bang out some new material?

When I first signed up for a popular dating site, I got a bunch of messages from guys telling me how much they loved reading my profile or how interesting it was. Which sounds normal, right? Yeah, except that I hadn't written a single word yet. Suffice it to say, I didn't reply to any of them.

I know reading all those profiles can get tedious, with all the words and no hyperlinks, but at the very least care enough to fake it. You know, the way us girls do when we eventually have sex with you.

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2
Never Lead With "Hey Sexy" (or Anything Similar)

The type of guy that leads off with "hey sexy" is definitely the same type of guy that's catcalling you while you're picking up your dog's shit on a morning walk.

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I'm pretty confident that if Nate Silver or any of his super-stats-nerd buddies ran the numbers, there is a near-zero statistical chance of a man leading with "hey sexy" or "hey hot stuff" (their lack of capital letters and punctuation, not mine) and still landing a date.

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You know who says "hey sexy"? Larry from Three's Company. Do you know who that is? If not, that probably goes a long way toward explaining why you think it's cool to open a conversation that way. For what it's worth, Larry never got laid, and if he did he probably paid good money for it.


Adjusting for inflation, of course.

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Dating isn't easy. It should be, but we make it a lot harder because we are all (yes, all) a bunch of idiots. Thanks to online everything, we're also a bunch of idiots that don't know how to properly communicate with each other. Add this to the laissez-faire way people go about dating nowadays, and sooner or later you'll find yourself among the same group of people on the same handful of dating sites all not dating each other. Everyone is stuck in a virtual limbo where we all window-shop each other's profiles and pictures and never do more than send a wink or a 4-star rating. The only way this works for any of us is if someone breaks the ice first.

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"Hey sexy" isn't the way to do it, though. That kind of opening line is straight-up creepy and a sign that you're about five messages away from sending an unsolicited dick pic. Oh! Hey! Speaking of that!

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1
Don't Ever Send an Unsolicited Dick Pic

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EVER.

This life advice goes beyond the online-dating realm. Just don't do this, period, in any environment. Not via text, not via email, don't UPS that shit ... just don't.

Ask yourself one very important question before you decide to hit "send" on that penis portrait: "Would I walk up to a random girl and flash my dick?" If the thing you're about to send over text or email isn't something you would say or do in person, then step away from the computer. Consequently, if it is something you would do in person, then have a seat, because I'm pretty sure Chris Hansen is on his way to your house to chat over a plate of cookies and a pitcher of lemonade.

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"We have a transcript of everything you said. It's just a picture of your dick."

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I have experienced this on more than one occasion, and I'm sure many females can say the same. Fellas, regardless of how well you know a girl, unless she's given you the green light to get freaky via electronic communications, keep your dick to yourself. You may be really proud of that raging wood, and you may fool yourself into thinking the mere sight of it is going to get us all hot and bothered and desperate to ravage you, but you're wrong. It just leaves us bothered. Dicks are not photogenic at all, and when a picture of one pops up uninvited while we're trying to drink our morning coffee, it not only ruins our breakfast but also ruins your chances of ever using that thing with us.

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People have this false sense of security on the Internet. They think that because they are hidden behind a screen and a made-up username that they can say whatever they want to whoever they want. That somehow this isn't real life and these things aren't really happening, so they won't really be held accountable for them. That's simply not the case. This is real, and you really did say or do those things, and it elicited a very real reaction from someone on the other end.

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Terror, mostly.

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And, in a case like this, that reaction can vary from "Ew. This guy can go fuck himself" to feeling incredibly violated and unsafe.

Let's assume that not every guy is sending an unsolicited dick pic with the intention of violating a woman. But whether you meant to harass someone or not, just know that it is exactly what you're doing when you send a snapshot of your junk. It's not sexy or hot or romantic -- it just reminds us that dating is a huge risk and the seemingly nice, funny, attractive, normal guy could very easily end up the date-rape guy. Or worse.


For more from Cher, follow her on Twitter @thecherness.

And then check out 4 Things I Learned From the Worst Online Dating Profile Ever and 5 Widely Believed Dating Myths (Science Says Aren't True).

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