Online Dating Is Still Dating, These Rules Still Apply

This is a post written by my friend Sara Stringer, a freelance writer based in Southern California. I hope you enjoy her post!

For some reason, many people seem to believe that online dating is a completely different animal from the garden variety kind. The first mistake is thinking that there is a garden variety kind of dating. There are as many configurations of dating as there are people. The second mistake is thinking that online dating is anything new.

online dating

Back in the day, dating via correspondence was quite common. One might even say that it was the precursor to online dating. Back when we wrote with tapered, pointy cylinders called “pens”, we sometimes wrote personal letters to strangers known as “pen-pals”. When adults formed pen-pal relationships, it often led to dating, then to marriage. It was the equivalent of playing chess by mail vs. turn-based chess online. Different technology, same result. 

Online dating is still dating, and the same, common sense rules apply. For the safest, most enjoyable experience, you will keep these things in mind:

Bars and Churches, Choose Wisely

What do bars and churches have in common? They are major hubs for seeking dates. In the real world, you have to decide what type of partner you are looking for. Do you want the kind of man that frequents bars, or the kind that goes to church. For the moment, let us just ignore the large cross-section of the two. 

Once you have made that decision, you quickly come to the reality that not all bars, and not all churches are created equally. Selecting the best hunting grounds can be quite difficult.

When it comes to online dating, the challenge is the same. With what seems like thousands of dating communities to choose from, it is difficult to know which is best. Fortunately, there are places online that offer reviews of the top sites for dating. Having access to professional and user-based reviews really comes in handy for knowing which sites it is worth creating profiles on. If only bars had signs that said, “Beer, 4-stars. Dating, don’t bother!”


Letting Your Freak-Flag Fly

Let’s not go into details about your kinks. I don’t want to know. The one who does want to know is the person you plan to date. At some point, the two, or three of you (however that flag swings) might end up being intimate. You want someone who shares, or at least appreciates your kinks.

In the real world, this can be challenging. We tend to not wear signs announcing the fact that we have some type of fetish, let alone disclosing the particular variety. These disclosures are tentatively made only after a relationship has begun. Guessing wrong about your partner’s tolerances and inclinations could be disastrous. 

This is not a problem online. There are so many dating sites to choose from it is a trivial matter to locate a community that caters exclusively to your particular kink. Because of the anonymity of the Net, you can lead with an honest description of what you like and what you are looking for. You don’t have to worry about being judged. And you can be sure that your partner shares your interests. The key is to be honest and upfront. Online, lying is not necessary for finding a date.

Safety in Numbers

Ever been on a blind date? Was your first meeting with that person at their house, a hundred miles from anywhere? Of course not! You don’t know this person from an ax murderer. You meet in public spaces with lots of witnesses.

Dating online, especially for a long period of time, might give you the false sense of knowing a person. You don’t. No matter how many photos you have exchanged, no matter how many secrets shared, you can’t be certain if any of it is real. The safest course of action is to treat it like a blind date.

The spirit of online dating is nothing new. It is quite legitimate. And it can lead to all the joy and heartache experienced by people without an Internet connection.

About the Author: Sara is freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she enjoys maintaining a healthy lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga. 

Things You’ll Learn About Love & Sex at 33

When it comes to love and sex, being 33 is both totally weird and awesome.

On one hand, your hormones are raging and you want to have as much sex as possible. However, after a decade of bad decisions in your 20′s you’re now way more selective about who you sleep with…well, sort of. Most days you want to have sex with everyone and no one all at all the same time.

You’ll tell yourself that marriage isn’t really on your mind, but that it would be nice to meet someone that you could actually settle down with. However, some days you’ll catch yourself saying stuff like,  “At this point I don’t even care about finding ONE, I’d be happy to meet someone who is nice and reasonably normal that I can have regular, good, sex with.”

(gorgeous photo found via Keiko Lynn)

Your Pinterest account reveals your true feelings though. Amongst boards devoted to home decor, lingerie and whimsical vintage imagery, lurks one called “Creepy Imaginary Wedding” where you pin to your hearts content all things nuptial related. For someone who is always saying she isn’t even sure whether she believes in marriage, you sure do know what you want. (FYI, you’re thinking a classic, old school Hollywood vibe, bright fuchsia flower arrangments, a modern multi-cultural menu, somewhere like the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It will be hip and quirky, but still very classic and you’ll wear something Reem Accra or Elie Saab -ish obviously. Your groom will look elegant and handsome and won’t be wearing wrap-around sunglasses)

You spend more time than you’d like to admit wondering what your future dates will find more off-putting: The Creepy Imaginary Wedding, your professional relationship with Joe the Intern or the fact that you write about your vagina on the internet. You decide to stop worrying about it and instead just own it. After all, someone who doesn’t accept you for who you really are isn’t worth your time.

You’ll have good sex, “Okay-ish” sex and sex that is so bad it’s comical. More often than not you’ll have sex with yourself. You’ll come to the conclusion that you can go without sex for a long time, however going without an orgasm is another story. Your collection of sex toys will grow exponentially to the point where you start to run into storage issues.

When you get the urge for actual human contact, you’ll date people.

You’ll meet a 40-something single dad, whom your attraction to defies logic. However, when you go to have sex, you’ll be reminded that some people will use ridiculous excuses to get out of using condoms. He’ll insist that instead of using a condom, you should “just trust him.” This will also remind you of something you learned in your 20’s: that anyone who uses the line “just trust me!” should absolutely not be trusted. Later you watch an episode of Portlandia and determine that this guy must liken himself to be some sort of “pull out king” – albeit, a rather unsuccessful one: he has three kids.

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18 Photos To Delete From Your Online Dating Profile Immediately

Since initiating myself into the world of online dating a year and a half ago, I’ve realized that you can’t discuss online dating without mentioning the photos. Oh, the photos. Despite countless articles about how to create a decent online profile (written by well intentioned writers like myself), I’ve noticed that guys continue to post the same hilariously terrible photos again and again. From the endless stream of shirtless selfies to photos that scream out “serial killer!”, it seems like a lot of men out there are still confused as to what kind of photos to include in their profile.

FYI. I am aware that women post ridiculous stuff online too. However, since I’m a woman who dates men I can’t really speak to what the ladies are up to without doing extensive research. If anyone would like to help me with this, let me know.

Because I’m here to help,  Joe the Intern and I have put together a list of 18 photos that should be deleted from your online dating profile immediately.

I’m all for “action shots” in online dating profiles. Whether you love hiking, camping, fishing, playing music, salsa dancing, scotch tasting, travelling to exotic locations or all of the above – photos of you enjoying your interests are a great way to show people who you are and what you’re passionate about. With that said, these photos must make sense. I once saw an online dating profile where the dude’s only photo was a blurry shot of him frying sausages in a dingy kitchen. All I could think was, “WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?” That photo of you awkwardly nuzzling a snowman, riding a giant silver chicken or petting a hedgehog while you stare into the camera at a super awkward angle does not belong on your online dating profile.

The truth is, awkwardness is contagious. I don’t care how awesome that chicken ride was. If we can tell you feel awkward in the photo, we feel awkward too.


It’s not 2004 and you are not a 16-year old girl. There is absolutely no reason to have a photo of your face making sweet, mysterious love to a bathroom mirror. I don’t care how “soulful” you think your eyes look. DELETE. DELETE. DELETE!

This is a photo I see all. the. time. Am I supposed to be turned on by the fact that you’re surrounded by a bunch of random lady friends that it looks like you picked up at Margarita Monday? Because, I could just walk over to the local Chilis and meet those ladies myself.

Seriously though, I know you think showing photos of you with scantily clad women will make you look more desirable, but you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. Yes, we’re all adults with romantic pasts. However, until we’ve gotten to know each other I prefer to imagine you as untainted and like the kind of guy who would never even consider doing body shots off a hot blonde at Señor Frog’s (and if you did, would have the common sense to keep it to yourself. After all, what happens at Señor Frog’s, stays at Señor Frog’s.) It’s called romance. Please don’t kill it.

As someone who has been flashed in public more times than I’d like to admit, there’s something very unsettling about seeing a strange man with his pants undone, or in his underwear…and yet, people seem to think that it’s totally OK to post these kinds of photos on their online profiles. Yes, Creepy Single Dad I’m looking at you. I have a rule: “Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t do or say in person.” If you wouldn’t walk into a Starbucks without pants on, you certainly shouldn’t be pantless in your online profile. Just like the morning coffee crowd isn’t interested in seeing your ample treasure trail, neither is the general online dating population. Put some pants on, bro.

These photos usually come with a caption like, “Just hanging with my friends” when really they should say, “I’m the one in the background looking dejected and giving you the crazy eyes.” There’s nothing wrong with including a few photos taken with friends. After all, it shows that you are a fun person with a social life. Just make sure that in the photos you actually look like you’re being sociable and having fun. No one likes a lurker. Choose photos where you’re upfront and centre, and for the love of jeebus, smile. 

One of the perils of living and dating on the West Coast is that you encounter a lot of photos of guys in wetsuits or scuba gear. That’s cool that you’re into aquatic activities, however just make sure you include some photos that show what you look like when you’re not in all your gear. However, more often than not I see profiles chock full of photos like the ones above with a tagline like, “This is me.” Well, that totally clears things up! (Not)

I’m always suspicious of anyone who has photos where their ex is noticeably cropped out, or worse, blurred out. Looking at your dating profile shouldn’t make me feel like I’m watching an episode of COPS. Also, If your most recent photo is from that time you took your ex to your cousin Artie’s wedding in ’98, it’s time for some new photos.

Once upon a time you looked like John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and now you look like John Locke from Lost. Ain’t no shame in that game! However, what is shameful is posting super old photos in an attempt to get more dates. It’s a disservice to yourself because when we meet you in person, trust me…WE’LL BE ABLE TO TELL. However you look – own it. It’s way sexier.

No good can come of the  shirtless bathroom mirror selfie, yet like a bad case of bedbugs, it just won’t go away. This leads me to a very scary conclusion: some women must actually respond to them. It also makes me wonder what it would be like to go on a date with a guy who thinks taking a photo of himself in a cloudy mirror is a good idea. What exactly would this date entail? A trip to the local dog-fighting ring? Drinks at the Cactus Club followed by having sex while a UFC game played in the background? Am I just unfairly stereotyping these guys and most of them really just want to cuddle and discuss Proust by candlelight? My perverse journalistic curiosity almost makes me want to find out. Almost.

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Dispatches From The Dating Trenches

Hello Skinny Dippers. As promised, I am back with some dating updates. Like I mentioned before, one of my plans for 2014 is to put myself out there and revitalize my dating life. If you were reading this blog at this time last year, you probably remember reading about my adventures on Plenty of Fish which ranged from positive to positively fishy – literally. Since meeting people in person in Victoria has proven fruitless for the most part, I decided before Christmas that I would give Ok Cupid a try. Since the middle of December I have gone on a few dates and am now ready to report back with field notes.

Gather around everyone. We have a few things we need to discuss.

First up on the agenda is beards, or just facial hair in general. I never noticed how much facial hair there was in this city until I opened an Ok Cupid account. Within hours of setting up my account I was suddenly receiving messages and being matched with throngs of bearded gentlemen. From the hipster glamour beards and standard “urban lumberjack” beards, to overgrown facial hair of the Duck Dynasty variety, there were  JUST. SO. MANY. BEARDS. How had I never noticed this about my city?

Is this a Victoria thing? Like the giant trees, does facial hair grow faster here because of all of the fresh, moist sea hair? What’s the deal guys?!

Originally I thought the plethora of facial hair – ironic or otherwise – might just be spill over from Movember. However, we’re into January and the beards are still around, in fact they seem to be multiplying like Gremlins. When I mentioned this to my Mom before Christmas, she told me in all seriousness, “Maybe, it’s like a Christmas thing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, maybe they’re trying to look like Santa Claus?”

“You mean like they’re Mall Santas?”

“Well, I don’t know Simone. It’s possible.”

The suggestion that 75% of the single men in this city are lying about their professions and are in fact, secretly Mall Santas, is indeed a terrifying thought.

I know some women love facial hair, but it’s probably a good time to mention that it’s never really been my thing. Yes, a little bit of stubble can definitely be sexy, but full out beard? Not for me. I have really sensitive skin and chafe easily, and there’s nothing worse than waking up after a night of making out to what looks like wind burn on the lower half of your face. So, with the exception of my spring fling, who had a lovely, close cropped beard (that surprisingly didn’t bother me at all), I tend to go more for clean shaven types.

With that said, I’m trying to break away from my usual dating patterns. I figure I need to give facial hair a fighting chance if I want to date in 2014. Besides, my recent experience has shown me that with the right guy, often comes the right beard. However, I have two ground rules: your beard has to be close cropped and well maintained, and if you have a fondness for red toques, we might have a problem.

At the risk of sounding like Jerry  Seinfeld, what’s the deal with people who want to hold hands on the first or second date? I’ve been on several dates with men in this city who want to hold your hand almost immediately – which, for some reason totally freaks me out. When I lived and dated in Toronto, hand holding was usually only something you did once you were “together”, or at the very least had seen each other naked. Whereas this may not have bothered me when I was younger, now that I’m in my 30’s I see hand holding as a fairly intimate act – in other words, not something I want to do with someone I barely know. Am I crazy to feel this way?

To gain some perspective on the issue I consulted with my friend Trevor who was visiting over the holidays. His response was very much in line with mine.

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Actual Conversations From the Other Night

Whenever I’m feeling creatively uninspired, I’ve learned that one of the best things I can do is to step away from my computer, get out of the house and interact with the outside world. Considering most of my nights lately have involved carbs, a blanket and a steady stream of Netflix, I figured it was high time I get out of the house and socialize with someone other than my cat. What resulted, was one of the busiest weekends I’ve had all summer. Friday night I went out dancing for a friend’s going away party, Saturday I spent with my best friend and her daughter, and then the past two days have been spent with my friend Abby who is visiting from Las Vegas. I even met her friend Ethan who is a local blogger out of Vancouver (hooray for new blogger friends!) I’ve had four fabulous days full of good friends, good food & good drinks. It’s been so much fun –  but more on that later!

As I mentioned, Friday night I found myself at a going away party for my friend Gina who is moving to Scotland with her husband this fall. We started off at a friend’s place and after a couple of glasses of wine made our way downtown to Lucky Bar – one of Sleepytown’s better spots. Going out to a bar or club in this town is always interesting because it’s so different than the Toronto night life I am used to. In Victoria, you’ll never get searched & patted down before entering your night spot of choice, $10 will get you a drink for you AND a friend, and you’ll likely see as more girls in flats & flip flops than stilettos (something that I’m still trying to wrap my Toronto-ized brain around). Also you should be prepared for the fact that almost no matter where you go, West Coast Hip Hop reigns supreme. If you don’t hear at least one song by Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, 2Pac or Warren G. at some point during the night, something is very, very wrong.

Ever since my self imposed hiatus from online dating, I’ve opened myself up to the possibility of meeting someone the “good old fashion way.” However, I haven’t had much success. A friend of mine told me, “you just need to put out the right vibe and it will happen!” I figured Friday night was the perfect time to test this theory.

So, there I was on the dance-floor, shaking my hips (in my flat sandals) to Dre’s “Next Episode” when a guy we’ll call Bachelor #1 approached me. Bachelor #1 bore an uncanny resemblance to “Thriftshop” rapper Macklemore – right down to the ginger hair and identical haircut.

Bachelor #1:  “What’s your name? Oh, wait – with moves like yours it must be Beyonce!”

Me: “Um, thanks?!” (Repressing hysterical laughter.)

Bachelor #1: Where did you learn to dance like that?

I wanted to tell him the truth – that during a particularly bad bout with insomnia during university, I’d often stay awake most of the night watching videos on BET until a doctor eventually prescribed me sleeping pills. However, instead I decided to keep things simple and replied, “In Toronto”

We stood around talking for a bit until he politely excused himself to go grab another drink.

Although his opening line was undeniably cheesy, if being called Beyonce was the worst that could happen, maybe interacting with the local male population wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Enter Bachelor #2 – a tall, attractive Canadian guy with dark hair. I was nursing a cocktail on the edge of the dance floor when he approached and immediately began speaking to me.

Bachelor #2: I’m hoping you can answer a question for me. Which do you prefer: The Dark Knight or the Dark Knight Rises?

Me: You mean like the Batman movies? Uh, I guess neither?

Bachelor #2: Neither?! That’s an answer I’ve never heard before!

Me: Well, what’s the one with Heath Ledger in it?

Bachelor #2: The Dark Knight.

Me: I guess, I’ll go with that one.

Bachelor #2: A fine choice! Thanks for settling a bet between my buddy and I. BYE!

And like the caped crusader himself, Bachelor #2 disappeared into the crowd never to be seen again.


When I told my best friend this story she commented, “I totally thought he was going to ask you if you wanted to see his Dark Knight rise…because you know, that actually seems like something someone would say to you.”

Throughout the evening, my friend and I noticed that there was this skinny, dark haired guy always lurking right next to us, giving us the eager, crazy eyes.

Friend: “It’s like, every time we’re trying to have a moment, he’s there! I just want him to go away.”

Me: “I know, he just keeps popping up everywhere.”

For the rest of the evening, I dubbed Bachelor #3 “Whack-a-Mole”

Although Gina did her best to shield me from Whack-a-Mole, eventually he cornered me and began to ask me a series of rapid fire questions.

Bachelor #3: “What’s your name?”

Me: “Simone”

Bachelor #3: “What do you do?”

Me: “I’m a writer.”

Bachelor #3: “What do you have to do to become a writer?”

Me: “Go to school”

Bachelor #3: “Where did you go to school?”

Me: “U of T”

Bachelor #3: “How much money do you make?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Bachelor #3: “Enough to buy me a drink?”

Me: “Definitely not.”

As I walked away, I grabbed Gina and said,

“If anyone asks tonight, you’re my wife.”

From Macklemore to Whack-a-mole,


Next time someone asks me why I’m not dating anyone in this city, I’m just going to send them the link to this post.

How was your weekend?! 

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