July 15, 2024
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‘Polite’ Online Dating Messages That Are Actually Offensive

Online Dating Messages

Some Online Dating Messages Are Actually Offensive

In the world of online dating, communication is key. However, with the body language and tone cues of in-person interactions, sending the right message is easier. Surprisingly, some seemingly polite messages can come off as offensive. This article dives into the surprising online dating messages that are actually offensive, helping you navigate the digital dating landscape with grace and respect.

Understanding Online Dating Etiquette

Online dating suffers from the same issues as emailing—a lack of tone makes it easy to misinterpret messages. Online dating messages that are meant to be friendly can be misunderstood without the benefit of body language and vocal cues. Etiquette experts emphasise the importance of empathy, respect, and charm in crafting your messages. Let’s explore the messages that might be seen as polite but can offend.

Common ‘Polite’ Messages That Can Be Offensive

When engaging in online dating, it’s important to remember that what one person might see as polite can easily offend another person. Misunderstandings in online dating messages are actually quite common due to the lack of tone and body language cues. Here are some dating messages that are actually offensive, even if they seem harmless at first glance:

Careless Compliments That Miss the Mark

Careless compliments often come from a good place but can backfire. For example, saying “You don’t look your age” might seem kind, but it suggests there is a standard way to look at a certain age, which can be taken as an insult. A better approach would be to compliment their vibrant energy or personality.

Assumptive Statements

Assuming things about someone’s lifestyle or choices can be very off-putting. Statements like “You’re too attractive to be on a dating app” or “I usually don’t date people from [your city/job]” imply negative judgments. Instead, show genuine interest in their life experiences and ask thoughtful questions that help you get to know someone better.

Invasive Questions

Questions that delve too deeply into personal matters too soon can feel invasive. Asking why someone is still single or probing into their past relationships can make the other person feel uncomfortable. Focus on asking about their interests and experiences, which are less likely to offend and more likely to foster a meaningful connection.

Careless Compliments That Miss the Mark

Compliments are often meant to make them feel special, but they can backfire if not worded carefully. Two types of compliments about age and appearance can often prove to be offensive:

Age-Related Compliments: “You Don’t Look Your Age”

While you might think saying someone doesn’t look their age is flattering, it can be offensive. This comment implies there are set standards for appearances at certain ages, which can easily offend another person. One person might see it as a compliment, but another might take it as an insult. Instead, compliment their timeless energy or vibrant personality. This approach is more respectful and avoids the pitfalls of age-related comments.

Appearance-Based Compliments

Comments focusing solely on appearance can feel shallow. Rather than saying someone is too attractive for a dating app, which implies they don’t belong there because of their looks, highlight something unique about their profile or interests. For example, mention how their love for home improvement projects or their enthusiasm for local events happening makes them stand out. This shows you’re interested in more than just looks and helps you get to know someone better.

Assumptive Statements

Making assumptions about someone’s lifestyle or past relationships can be very off-putting. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

Comments on Lifestyle Choices

Saying you’re willing to make an exception for someone’s job or location can be demeaning. For instance, stating that you usually wouldn’t date someone from their city or with their profession can make them feel like an outlier. Instead, express genuine interest in their life experiences and ask thoughtful questions about their background. This approach is more engaging and respectful, and it helps in trying to get to know them better.

Judgements on Past Relationships

Mentioning an ex in early conversations can be obviously very off-putting. Comparing someone to your previous partners, even in a positive light, is a quick way to alienate them. For example, saying “You seem so adventurous; my last partner was boring,” can make them feel uncomfortable. Focus on the present and avoid negative comparisons. This allows the conversation to remain positive and focused on getting to know each other.

Invasive Questions That Feel Overly Personal

Asking overly personal or invasive questions can make someone feel uncomfortable and judged. Here are two areas to be cautious about:

Questioning Why Someone Is Still Single

Asking why someone is still single implies there’s something wrong with being single. This question can make the other person feel judged and defensive. Instead, inquire about their journey and what they are looking for in a relationship. This not only shows respect but also aligns with the goal of getting to know someone better without making them feel scrutinised.

Probing Personal History

Digging too deep into someone’s personal history too soon can feel intrusive. Asking about past relationships or family issues can be overly personal and uncomfortable. Balance your curiosity with respect and allow the conversation to flow naturally. Ask about their interests, hobbies, and experiences instead. This will help you get to know them without making them feel like they are under interrogation.

Response Etiquette

Effective response etiquette in online dating is crucial for making a positive impression. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Respond Promptly

Ignoring or delaying a reply can be offensive. Always aim to send the message promptly, even if it’s just to politely decline.

  • Avoid Short Responses

Overly brief replies might not be the best approach as they can seem disinterested. Show genuine interest by asking questions and engaging in meaningful conversation.

  • Be Thoughtful with Compliments

Compliments that focus solely on appearance can be shallow. Instead, appreciate their personality or interests.

  • Steer Clear of Invasive Questions

Asking invasive questions too early can be uncomfortable. Focus on lighter topics until a deeper connection is formed.

  • Address Lack of Chemistry Gracefully

If there’s a lack of chemistry, be honest yet kind. A simple, “I enjoyed our conversation, but I feel we might not be the best match,” is respectful and clear.

Confidence vs. Presumption

Confidence is important in online dating, but it’s crucial not to cross into presumption. Here’s how to strike the right balance on a dating website.

  • Be Genuine, Not Presumptuous

Confidence should come across as genuine interest. Avoid assuming what the other person likes. Instead of saying, “Let’s just say you’re the adventurous type,” ask open-ended questions to get to know them.

  • Show Interest in Their Potential

Every profile on a dating website is full of potential. Show that you see this potential by asking about their interests and experiences. This demonstrates genuine interest without making assumptions.

  • Avoid Stereotyping

Avoid statements like “I bet you love [activity].” Instead, encourage them to share more about themselves. This approach is exactly the recipe for a respectful and engaging conversation.

  • Make Them Feel Comfortable

Confidence should help the other person feel at ease. Use phrases like, “I’m really curious to hear more about your favourite hobbies,” rather than presuming their preferences. This makes the interaction feel more genuine.

  • Be Open and Flexible

Rather than assuming you’re more familiar with what they might enjoy, be open to learning. Express interest in activities or topics they suggest. This openness can help build a deeper connection without seeming presumptuous.

Navigating online dating with empathy and respect is crucial. By avoiding these polite yet potentially offensive messages, you can create more meaningful connections. Remember, it’s all about showing genuine interest in the other person and respecting their individuality.

Rachel Hall, M.A., completed her education in English at the University of Pennsylvania and received her master’s degree in family therapy from Northern Washington University. She has been actively involved in the treatment of anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, and coping with life changes and traumatic events for both families and individual clients for over a decade. Her areas of expertise include narrative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and therapy for traumatic cases. In addition, Rachel conducts workshops focusing on the psychology of positive thinking and coping skills for both parents and teens. She has also authored numerous articles on the topics of mental health, stress, family dynamics and parenting.

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