The online dating world presents a number of dilemmas and questions when it comes to proper etiquette. What passes as polite and courteous behavior in the “real world” doesn’t always translate over into the online world. The anonymity created by a computer allows for a different set of rules and social behaviors that, for some, can be confusing. One of the top questions on the mind of online daters is “should you respond to someone even if you’re not interested in them?”
Reasons to Respond
In the normal world it’s certainly not polite to turn your back and simply not respond when someone is talking to you, but it happens all of the time on online dating sites. Some people believe that it’s best to respond to be courteous, even if there’s no interest. In this scenario you could say, “Thanks for contacting me, but I don’t think we’re a fit. Good luck in your search!” is an option. The ideology behind a courteous response is that some people deal better with a getting any response over no response at all. It can be frustrating to continually make contact with others online and not ever get a response.
Reasons Not to Respond
Others would argue that the appropriate thing to do when you’re not interested in someone is to simply not respond. This allows the sender to better rationalize the situation. They can brush off the lack of response by saying “well, maybe they’re just busy” or “maybe they’re already taken.”
Also, the “no thanks” response method may prevent you from having to field any further messages from the person. Sometimes sending a “thank you, but no thank you” will cause the other person to ask “why not?” They feel unfairly judged. It only gets more and more awkward from there. In some unfortunate cases it might even draw a rude follow-up message from the other person, which makes you wonder if it was worthwhile to respond in the first place.
How Compelling Was the Message?
If you still can’t decide which move is best for you, consider how much effort went into the message the other person sent. If the person took the time out to ask you a question about one of the hobbies in your profile or to compliment your eyes, maybe then a polite response would be in order, just to answer the question or say “thank you”—then that’s it. If it’s just a quick “hey, what’s up” then it’s probably not a big deal to just move on. That person is likely sending the same message to plenty of other folks (fishing).
The Golden Rule
When in doubt, use “The Golden Rule” to make your decision: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you would want a response, then give one. If you wouldn’t mind either way, then don’t fret about the matter.
Responding to those who have reached out to you, whether you’re interested or not, is probably good for your “dating karma” but it can backfire in some cases. The other person’s feelings might be hurt by the open rejection. In other cases the person is laid back and doesn’t take things so seriously—they realize that a response on an online dating website (or lack thereof) has little to nothing to do with their real world. The bottom line is that everyone is different, so just follow your own intuition and always use common sense precautions on online dating sites.
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