Anonymity is a double-edged sword.
You can either make it work for you by being bold enough to do something that you're not bold enough to do in person. Or, it can work against you for the very same reason. There is a common misconception among people looking for love online. That misconception is, "the person is not in front of me, I can do/say whatever." If I am a girl looking for love online and I am usually reserved, anonymity may help me be a bit more flirtatious. The same goes for guys. While it's ok to be a little bold to a degree, it's not okay to piss all over the rules of online dating etiquette.
Posting a photo vs not posting one
Your picture is the first visual someone is going to see. If you don't post a photo, you should know that you are less likely to be contacted because more people are less apt to search profiles without photos. You diminish your chances greatly by opting to not put a photo.
If you don't post a photo, it's ok. However, you should explain why you're not posting your photo like your job is too high profile and you know some of your clients use the service and you want to avoid embarrassing conversation. Or, you just don't have one that you like yet. Always offer to send a photo in your profile because it seems less sketchy. And the photo should always accompany the first email you send in response to a wink or an email.
If you choose to post a photo, pick a good one. Nothing blurry, nothing where you look like a speck on top of a mountain. Always have your clothes on. Not having clothes on or barely wearing anything sends an entirely different message and there are other sites for folks looking for that. We've gone over this before, if you put up a picture of you with a child, identify the child's relationship to you immediately. Never make a picture of you and a child the first picture. Some people will assume that is your kid and they may be against dating single mothers/fathers. You don't want anybody that shallow anyway but they're out there.
Avoid posting pictures where you blur out a person's face. Obviously, that person is your ex. Having it up on your profile is tacky.
Too much information
It's okay to say you like kissing. It's a whole other bag of nuts to claim that you've been told you're a great kisser/great in the sac/have the oral skills of a fast talking southern auctioneer because chances are, you suck at all of the above and someone in your past was just being nice. Let them be surprised at your skills and let them be their own judge.
Everyone has a few things that they like. Your profile is not the place to list them. Neither is in the email you write. There is a whole different step in the relationship to come clean with it and ask someone to do something for you. That step is not anywhere near the first one. It's never ok to send an email to someone asking them to respond only if they are shaved clean and/or will let you suck their toes.
The sites can get expensive but so can dating. Hiding your email in your profile to have people contact you outside the confines of the "we-say-we-strip-your-email-address-but-we-don't" world of online dating can be like asking a stranger to meet you for coffee . . . in a dark alley. But more importantly, it shows how cheap you are. And if you are too cheap to meet someone, then you are too cheap to be dating.
Emails vs Winks
For those not familiar with online dating, allow me to explain what a wink is. A wink is something you send to someone that you are interested. Like a wink you'd give someone in a bar telling them they have the greenlight to approach you. The online company sends an email to the subscriber saying that InsertScreenNameHere has "winked" at them. Then the subscriber clicks on a link that takes them to the winker's profile. After reading it you can either wink back or email the winker.
Keep this in mind. "Winkers are Wankers." Winks are the lazy way out. Winks are for people (like me) who smoked a joint and decided to wink at anyone they thought was remotely cute. If you do not have a picture up, winks are completely unacceptable for two reasons:
1.) You're relying on your sparkling personality to hook someone's attention. As great as you think you are, your words better shine like Italian lacquer and chances are, they don't, Poe.
2.) Not having a picture up, makes you look like you aren't taking this seriously. Not having a picture up and just winking . . . um, no.
Winks are also free. You have to be a paying subscriber to e-mail someone so if you get a wink from someone you could both potentially be non-subscribers which means one of you is going to have to bite the bullet and pay. Altho' now I hear it's even sneakier and you have to be a paying member to see who even winked. SNEAKY.
Emailing doesn't take much time folks. It takes minimal effort at best and if you're not willing to expend it then why should someone take the time to get to know you? Do you really want to start the "lazy comfortable game" so soon? At least wait until they've spent the night to steal all the covers. Plus, emailing someone shows the person you actually took two minutes to read their profile. You will stand out from all the lazybones who just winked.
Now, a bit about emailing. The first email should be short. It is will be attached to your profile so if they wants to know more, they can read your profile. You don't want to repeat yourself, do you? I'm against form emails. Form emails are vague emails that apply to nobody in particular. Most form email senders don't even bother to check the location of where you are before they send you an email from Jersey that says "since we live so close . . " It only takes a minute to personalize a form email. Go ahead, keep one in your mailbox drafts and cut, paste and personalize. Start it by introducing yourself and where you are from. Say you read their profile and think you have some things in common. Cite one or two of the things. You can even mention a joke they told or a book they read that you read too. I used to make suggestions, "I see you read Chuck Klosterman, have you read Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs?" If they quote a movie, comment on it. Then close it by saying, I'd like to hear from you. Read my profile and let me know if you're interested. See how easy that is?
More about emails
I'm getting to know you. Let me ask you some questions: What is your favorite holiday memory? What is your favorite travel destination? Who did you want to win Flava of Love Season 2? When do you usually get physically intimate in a relationship? Whoa! back the funk up speed dater. I'm not lying, this actually happened to a friend of mine. I actually wanted the exact words so I spent 30 minutes looking through my archived Outlook items. Questions regarding sex and intimacy are better left off emails ESPECIALLY if you haven't met yet. In my friend's case, the guy hadn't even asked her out yet. So, he didn't have the balls to ask her out but he can ask her this. He also asked her to describe her perfect date and she did. In return he described his. For dessert he wrote "your lips" and went into great detail about what they might taste like. Again, no. I'm writing my freaking wedding vows and I'm not getting that corny.
Let's hurry up and meet
You should meet anyone you are talking to within 2 weeks unless it is a situation where someone is traveling or you are separated by some distance. If they are in town, you have no excuse. Meeting someone soon eliminates the build up with less risk for extreme letdown. I have a friend who will talk to a guy on the phone and have a fantastic conversation. I will then get a call from her telling me all about the conversation that will lead to her planning our their whole courtship, and wedding/break up. Just recently, I got a call from her and after telling me how much she enjoyed talking to this guy told me that he said he didn't want to have kids. I said, "Ok, so?" To which she said, "Well, I'm not sure if i want kids but he is sure he doesn't." Slow down, sister. You don't have to have kids with the guy, you can just meet him for coffee. But, I know the kid comment will ultimately determine if he gets a second date.
The lesson to be learned here is not to let corresponding with someone online go on too long but don't jump right into a meeting. Everyone has their comfort level. I know, for me, I liked to have at least one phone conversation with someone before I met them. That way I could gauge if we might have enough in common to keep conversation flowing. Then again, it is hard NOT to keep conversation flowing with me around. If you can't, then check your pulse. I had to leave the conversation with the vibe that this guy wouldn't kill me.
I know it's the year 2006 but some girls are still old fashion in the regards where they want the guy to ask them out. So, if you're a guy and you've been talking to a girl online for more than 3 emails, ask for her number already and ask her out by the end of that call. I know, it's dumb, she has every right in the world to suggest a meeting. most men tip-toe around the meeting thing because they want her to feel comfortable and not rushed but at least try. What is the worse that can happen, she can say "I'd like to get to know you a bit more before."
If you ask someone for their number, try to call within a day or two. Anymore than that and you're kinda an asshole. Especially if you have emailed during that time. If you had time to email, you had time to call. Only call once and if they're not around, leave a message. Do not hang up on they're machine (because they probably have caller ID) and call back a million times until they answer because by then you are known to them as "a stalker." Once you have made it to that level, there is no returning from it.
Don't call the person any more than two times a week at first. Two times you are courting them, more than that and your freaking girlfriends. If they want to call you, they have your number. Prior to Stew moving in, he could count how many times I called him on one hand. Now my calls are more like, "where are you? When are you coming home? I heard sirens, I just wanna make sure you weren't in an accident."
My friend just gave me a great example of call misuse lastnight. She has been e-mailing this guy and they finally moved things to phone. He's moving into "girlfriend territory" with the amount he calls/asks her to call. They talked Monday and he told her to call him Tuesday. I told her not to. She didn't. She called him Wednesday instead and they talked. he called her back later that night at almost 10 to tell her he was just thinking about her and wanted to say hi. WARNING: PHONECALL LIMIT FOR THE DAY HAS ALREADY BEEN REACHED. She was taken aback but tried to cover up her surprise by asking him if he watched Dancing With the Stars. He said yes and then pretty much said, "well, ok, I'm beat, I have to go to bed goodnight." The call lasted 2 minutes. A short call doesn't cancel out the fact that you called again.
There are a few schools of thought on this. Some girls think the guy should always pay. Most guys think girls have quite the deal in dating and it's a joy for us to scoop up free meals. Some believe dutch is the way to go. Some people think it's whoever invited who out should pay. Some think whoever traveled the farthest should be treated. The truth is, there is no right answer. It's really whatever you are comfortable doing. I know couples who have been together for a while and go dutch on everything. Stew can't understand why and I've explained to him that nothing is worse than it being thrown up in your face later that one person paid for everything. If you are a guy and you bought dinner and a movie, keep in mind that was your choice. You could have easily said to her, "hey, i got dinner, do you think you can get the movie?" I always offered to pay my way. Sometimes people took my money, sometimes they asked me to just leave the tip and sometimes they refused my offer.
Traveling to meet your date
Some people have no limits on their search for love. If you're both in the same state, it is okay to meet halfway or choose the hometurf of one party. However, the traveler must entertain on their hometurf next time. It is only okay to bend this rule if you just happen to be in your date's area doing something else so you're not inconvenienced to travel again. Otherwise, it's a turn-a piece. It's not fair to assume they're always willing to travel to see you just because you have better places to eat or go.
If you are traveling a further distance to meet your date and you think you might spend the night, book a hotel. It's not fair, unless you have discussed it with your date and he/she has offered up an extra room/their bed to assume you'll be staying there. Otherwise, pack your ass back up in the car and go home.
That's all I can think of for now, but I am sure more will creep up.