If you are planning to take the plunge into the world of online dating, you should learn the code of online dating etiquette first; it will save you from wasting time, being disappointed and hurting the feelings of other people. Online dating is not a game. You will be dealing with real people with real feelings. Here are some of the rules you should follow to protect yourself and others.
• Engage in cyber dating only if you are seriously searching for a partner. Be honest about your intentions.
• There are many online dating agencies, and many allow a limited free-trial period. Try out a few before you settle on one or more. Also, it can't hurt to check out their dating policies.
• To prevent email abuse, establish a separate email address for online dating. Make note of it so it's not forgotten.
• Your profile is your advertisement. Be honest from the get-go, or you will be wasting your time with unsuitable candidates.
• Post recent photos, not ones that are 20 years old.
• Do not respond to an ad if you are not genuinely interested. Instead, wait for prospects most suited for you.
• If you have responded to an ad and the reply is a rejection, don't take it to heart. Move on. It just means you are one step closer to finding your love match.
• If the response is from a candidate clearly outside your stated parameters, ignore it. You will only be wasting your time. However, reply to all responses, even if the answer is no.
• Respond in a timely manner, just as you would to a phone call or an email from someone you know.
• Start with a friendly greeting and end with a friendly goodbye.
• Use punctuation and good online manners at all times.
• Keep your emails brief but interesting. Make them want to come back for more.
• If you make a date, arrange to meet in a public place and arrive and leave separately.
• Always tell someone where you will be, just in case. Better safe than sorry!
• Keep the first meeting short. An hour is a good amount of time.
• If you are interested in seeing the other person again, let him or her know so you can arrange to meet again. If the other person doesn't respond in kind, move on.
• It's okay to date more than one prospect online or offline, as long as you have not made a commitment to be exclusive with anyone.
• Once you have found your "perfect" match, discontinue your ad by removing your profile.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.AMLGroup.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, Women's Health, and the Los Angeles Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more