Just as there is etiquette in dating, there are also guidelines if you want to be a graceful and gentlemanly user of the Internet to meet people -- and if you want cyberlove to cross over into real-life. Just as you would never talk with your mouth full, you should follow some codes of etiquette when communicating, hooking up, and "dating" via the Internet:

  • DO be honest about yourself. Should you ever get to the stage of meeting your love interest in person, it could be a rude awakening for him if you fabricated a few key things about yourself) as in, you're not a 105-pound blonde . . . ).
  • DON'T reveal everything there is to know about yourself, as in dating in real-life. Leave something to the imagination (and also wait until your really know the person).
  • DO be respectful of the other person's privacy, without demanding too much.
  • DO refrain from profanity.

Other do's and don'ts of cyberdating to keep in mind include the following:

  • DON'T reveal too much about yourself until you know the person better, as you would if you met in person.
  • DO be wary of "lurkers" (unless you're in a private chat room). These are people who read along during a discussion without contributing.
  • DO be wary of life stories that are too fantastic, glamorous, or dramatic, These people are likely lying.
  • DON'T use your real name, phone number, or other information that could identify you until you know the person for several months or completely feel that this is a person your can trust. If you do make phone contact, use a phone as work rather than your home number, or even call from a local phone booth (as super-cautious as this sounds, it is a real protection).
  • DO carefully pick your e-mail address and username. Using a gender-specific name that can help others choose you has certain advantages, but tricksters and prowlers often look for women (or youngsters ) who come across as vulnerable and desperate. (For example, steer clear of names such as "kitten girl" or "lovelonging;" you don't want to be a target for cyber-abusers.) Also, certain names can put off others. For instance, referring to yourself as " Loverboy" can imply that you're a player or a womanizer. You can always try out different names and see what happens.
  • DO find out what information is available about your online. Log onto your e-mail address at one of the finger services on the Net. You finder (also called a "plan file") can contain all the information you used when you signed up with your service, including your name, address, phone number, and employer. If you don't like what comes up, contact your server.
  • DO temper your expectations. You really cannot judge your compatibility, nor see a person's true personality, until you get to know him/her face-to-face.
  • DO understand that cyberdating is subject to the same breakups as real-life dating. You might fall in cyber-love and then get rejected. If you face this experience, check Dumping for tips on handling rejection.

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