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You wouldn’t start a conversation with someone at a bar, acknowledge that you have common interests, seemingly enjoy the chit chat for awhile, possibly get a bit flirty, and then turn your back and completely walk away from him/her mid-sentence, would you?

Then why do you do it online?

This behavior is frequently exhibited on online dating websites, by both men and women, and it’s just plain rude. Just because communicating online with potential dates allows for complete anonymity does not mean it permits a complete lack of human decency.

Let’s talk online dating etiquette.

When you first post your dating profile on a site, there will be lots of immediate traffic, as you are the “fresh meat.” Depending on which site you’ve chosen to join, prospective dates will be allowed to message you directly, or at least send some sort of generic sign of interest.

If you have an effective profile, meaning a cute picture or an interesting self-description or both, you may receive many messages at the beginning. Don’t feel obligated to reply to each and every one, unless you truly are a glutton for punishment. You may open a can of worms with some people who don’t want to accept your polite “No, thank you.”

However, if you do start an actual conversation with someone, meaning instant messaging or emailing or even texting, common courtesy calls for a proper end to the chat by one person or the other. That doesn’t mean you have to explain why you are saying goodbye, or even if you’ll ever communicate with that person again. But that person deserves to understand that you are walking away.

Try, “It was nice talking with you but I have to go. Have a great day!”

Or, “Gotta run, my dog needs to go out.”

Or even, “My appendix just burst, on my way to the hospital.”

Anything is better than providing one more source of rejection to a stranger who is on a vulnerable search for love.

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