"Rules" for Successful Online Dating

1. You are not looking for “the One.” You are looking to filter out the “No’s.”

Online meeting should be used as a filter rather than a net. Instead of randomly meeting someone at an event where you know nothing about them, or at a bar where you know even less, meeting online can help you filter out the definite “no’s” before taking any unnecessary risks with a person. The goal is not to develop a relationship online. You can't. The goal is to set up a meeting with someone that you know is not a “no.” Remember to renovate your standards when you are filtering out the “no’s”.

2. Spend no more than 30 minutes a day online.

Don’t get carried away. You need to first set boundaries for yourself if you are going to be able to set them in a relationship. How you use online dating is the first indication of whether or not you are ready to date.

3. Respond to everyone for the first two months - every wink, email, contact request (until you know it's a no).

These numbers can be modified a bit to fit your schedule and situation, however, the spirit behind this rule is important. When you first begin to meet people online, the whole experience may seem very awkward. Meeting new people can generally be awkward, and even if you're comfortable in social settings with new people, you most likely don’t think you are being your most authentic self from that first meeting. Meeting lots of people online and then in person will teach you valuable lessons about yourself and other people. Beyond finding your spouse, it can be a very healthy experience to help you mature socially.

4. Don’t send more than three emails before moving to the phone/texting.

It’s easy to get carried away with email. Some people like to write a lot and present a sense of themselves that doesn’t necessarily correlate with real life. Some people are terrible writers but really fun to be with. Some people sound hilarious by email but dry in person. You can’t get to know someone by email and you shouldn't try. Three emails are plenty to find out if this is someone you should or shouldn't meet for coffee. 

5. Don’t text for more than three days without moving to a phone call.

Texting provides the same danger as email. Unrealistic expectations can be set and the pedestal you put someone on, or are placed on yourself, will inevitably fall.

6. Limit phone conversations to less than 45 minutes.

Some people can talk a lot. Time spent together can lead to increased emotion, especially when your image of the other person isn’t based on a real encounter with the person. We tend to fill in the gaps of what we don't know about someone with what we want to believe (whether positive or negative). A lot of time talking on the phone without knowing one another can amplify the feelings you have about a person without really knowing the person.

7. Don’t talk for more than a week without scheduling a first date.

Everything online and over the phone should be ordered towards meeting a person. You can learn about a person through technology, and you can begin to encounter the person over the phone, but you don’t really encounter the person until you meet in person. This should happen as quickly as possible so that you don’t begin to build up an idea of who the other person is, or start to form feelings around an idea that doesn’t match up to reality.

For a more detailed presentation of Dr. Greg's rules, click here.


Dr. Bottaro is a clinical psychologist and founder of the CatholicPsych Institute. He received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a graduate school in Arlington, VA that integrates Catholic philosophy and theology with sound, empirically validated psychology.

The CatholicPsych Institute was founded in 2012 and has since grown to 5 offices with 12 therapists serving clients around the globe. For more information about the institute and its services, visit here





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