And yet, here I am, convinced beyond just about any doubt that what we’d call rudeness in our face to face dealings is a far kinder way of behaving in the online world.
In “real life,” when someone approaches and asks you out, you’re obliged by social custom to reply. How can I be mean to someone who thinks I deserve that kind of effort?
You may not be interested, but you can’t just pretend that the person isn’t standing there talking to you. So we have developed all manner of ways of saying no thanks, in what is hopefully the kindest way possible. And a couple times, women I have written to actually have replied with nice no thank you messages. And – here’s the odd part – a little uncomfortable.
More to the point, what are the implications for society as more and more of us are socialized according to the rules of online etiquette?
What happens as the functional rudeness of Internet culture invades our face to face lives?
If you aren't interested in pursuing a relationship with this person anymore, then write a gracious goodbye.
If you have started dating someone else you've met offline, explain what happened and wish the other person well.
Don't push people to give out their phone numbers, especially if you haven't already exchanged a few emails.
Once you have exchanged a few emails with someone, don't just "disappear." If you aren't ready to take the next step of a phone call, say that.
If you write to someone and he or she doesn't respond, try not to take it personally; many dating sites charge members for the privilege of reading or responding to their email, and this person may not be interested in paying for the service right now.
The online dating experts at say that "honesty is your best relationship tool," and recommend using current photos of yourself and a truthful description in your profile. Although it's smart to present yourself in a good light, don't pretend to be taller, thinner, richer, younger, or better-looking than you really are.
Remember your goal of finding a real relationship---and that the person you are emailing wants the same thing, not a fanciful web of lies.