Dating is hard enough, but our iPhone obsession has made it a veritable minefield. Thankfully we've got the low-down on dating etiquette - when to text, what to message, when to selfie, when to add them on social media and all the other essentials - with some pro help from the experts at Match.com.
We all know that the iPhone has affected dating – long gone are weekly calls, dropping by ‘because you were in the area’ (you weren’t), and six-monthly letters delivered on horseback from men called things like Mr. Chichester.
These days you can swap hundreds of messages a day with someone you fancy, before you’ve even met them. In a dating world of the super selfie, we can make everyone think we’re way more attractive thanks to a well-placed filter and some solid camera angles. That’s before arranging a date in a bar with very dim lighting, obviously.
From emoji etiquette to coping techniques for when someone calls and wants to actually speak to you, we got the lowdown from the love gurus at Match.com on how to wield your phone like the dating weapon it is. Think of it like Gandalf and his magical staff, except it’s a phone and you’re not a wizard. 😂
Dating and texting: the basics
Let’s start with a classic: how long should you leave it before you text someone back?
It’s one of the first true conundrums of mobile communication. And in all honesty, it depends on your level of familiarity. Our advice is simple: don’t play games, just be natural.
OK then, how many texts can you send in a row before it becomes awkward?
Texting behaviour has changed with the introduction of things like iMessage and WhatsApp. You’re rarely charged per 120-character-SMS anymore, and most people have unlimited texts anyway, so it’s no big deal if it goes over the limit. Back in the day, you’d send one big (usually heavily edited) text, so sending two in a row could seem a bit needy.
These days you can text more conversationally with lots of little ‘bubbles’, and it feels more natural. Our recommendation would be to text one batch at a time, and on one topic – it’s more about timings than quantity. If you can restrain yourself, try to wait until you’ve had a reply before texting again.
Good advice. So, are there any emojis you should avoid before you’ve actually met the person?
Don’t use any of the following: 💪 😍 😘 💍 👰 and, most importantly, 🍆.
Noted. So, let’s say your date misinterpreted something you said via text and is now really upset – what’s the best way to do damage control when face-to-face isn’t an option?
Being cheeky and sarcastic is tricky over text. As is trying to explain something serious or complicated. Misunderstandings happen all the time and, in all honesty, the best action here is to get into the habit of preventative pre-send proof-reading – trying to imagine how they would interpret it.
Emojis can help get across tone (a li’l 😜 screams ‘I’M JOKING’) but if all else fails, just call them to appease any tension. Hearing your voice will help convince them of your original intention…
Right, so a biggie: WhatsApp versus texting – is there a better option for organising a first date?
Although WhatsApp’s ability to track exactly when someone has read the message is amazing for control freaks, we’d suggest that it’s not worth the pain of the waiting game. If you’re both on an iPhone, stick to iMessage, but if you’ve got different devices, then yes, WhatsApp makes more sense. Either way, you’re guaranteed to accidentally send the other person a voice recording/picture of your dog.
What’s ‘ghosting’ and how can people avoid it?
Ghosting is when people just suddenly stop replying to your texts or calls when they become uninterested in you romantically. Sometimes you’ve dated for a bit, sometimes you haven’t met yet. Either way, it sucks.
You can avoid it by not being overly keen, and by remembering that their only incentive for doing it would be because they feel awkward telling you that they don’t want to pursue a romantic relationship. If you suspect it’s happening, then bring it up very honestly and good-naturedly and hopefully they’ll be candid.
What’s the etiquette when it comes to reading texts on someone else’s phone screen?
Genuine consensus is that a person’s phone is private, but couples do sometimes have problems respecting those boundaries – it’s a good idea to start as you mean to go on. If you see a text on your date’s phone – don’t read it. A good way to avoid any accidents is to make sure you both set it so that your texts don’t appear unless you click into them. That way they won’t accidentally glance over and see all your mates asking you how it’s going.
So, what’s an appropriate number of X’s to put at the end of a text?
It’s just a matter of taste, but we reckon the classiest is a simple ‘Xx’ (once a date has actually been agreed, of course).
You’re on a date and something they say reminds you of a really funny video – is it OK to show them said video?
Read the situation, but we think this is more of a second or third date privilege. Keep the first date to getting to know each other and then you might know if they’ll appreciate the video, or whether it’ll bomb.
What about if they tell you a fact and you really want to check on Google to see if they’re actually right?
An easy one: never do this.
So how long before you can add someone on Facebook?
After you’ve met them in real life at least once and are confident you would like to see them again. A pre-emptive Facebook add can come across as a little keen or, dare we say it, even a little creepy.
Social media stalking: helpful or harmful?
Really harmful – it’s a strange case of self torture. Do you really want to see how much fun they’re having with other people? Or try and guess what relationship they have to everyone they’re tagged in a photo with? Or attempt to decode cryptic tweets? Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re Sherlock. Be authentic and be yourself and if they’re into you, they’ll let you know.
A difficult one: at what point do you delete your dating profile?
At the point when you decide to become official/exclusive, or start actively using ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’. Don’t tempt fate by doing it before you absolutely know that it’s going somewhere.
Actual mouth talking (AKA The Phone Call)
You’ve scheduled a call – but they don’t answer. What should you do?
Text them to let them know you called and invite them to call back when you’re next free. Do not leave a voicemail, do not call them back again, do not text them more than once, do not social media stalk them. If they don’t get in contact within 24 hours – they’re either not interested (and rude) or, less likely, it’s an emergency. If we’re at the first date stage, it’s probably better to just keep a respectful distance and they’ll get in touch if/when they’re ready.
As we know, some people find phone calls really nerve-racking. Do you have any tips for making a good impression before you’ve met face-to-face?
It’s always good if there’s a reason for the call to give it some structure – like arranging something or catching up on a specific event. If it’s a more general catch-up, think of three things you want to share about your day and three questions you want to ask them about theirs. As you get to know each other’s lives in more detail, the topics will feel more natural.
Three’s a good number. So, what’s the best way to say goodbye on the phone without it dragging on for a humiliating amount of time?
Don’t do the ‘you hang up’ thing. Don’t say ‘Byeeeeeeee byeee byeeee’ a thousand times. Depending on your level of intimacy, be lovely, but classy. Something like ‘Can’t wait to chat soon’ is a good level of keen but not crazy.
If an important phone call interrupts a promising first date – should you take it?
Ignore anything that’s not life or death – work can wait – you’re on a DATE. But if you have to answer, apologise profusely to your date and ask if they mind if you take it. They will always say they don’t mind, even if they do. Always explain why it was so important afterwards – they’ll be wondering what’s more important than them, and empathy will help appease any tension.
To selfie or not to selfie?
Can you show personal photos to someone you’ve just started dating?
If you don’t know them particularly well, we’d say that, again, this is more appropriate further down the line – but it all depends on the photo. If it’s a picture of your kids – that’s nice and inclusive. If it’s a long slideshow of your holiday snaps – maybe wait until they know you a little better. As for X-rated stuff – definitely leave that until after you’ve done the deed.
When can you take that all-important ‘first couple’ selfie?
This really depends on the person. Ask if they own a selfie stick. If they do – you can take one almost immediately. If they don’t, wait until you’ve got a reason to take an ‘usie’ – like you’ve gone on holiday, or are celebrating an anniversary, or you’ve just seen someone famous and are trying to capture them in the background.
When is it not creepy to have a photo of them as your wallpaper?
As soon as you’ve agreed you’re actually a couple, this is OK, although it’s a little corny. Do not, we repeat, DO NOT set them as your wallpaper before a first date, even if they’re so attractive it actually hurts to not look at them. It’s just inviting an uncomfortable silence.