Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

     When I started this blog, I had no intention of being a serial online dater.  I was hoping to find someone whom I could transition with into real-life dating and progress from there.  In my now years of online dating experience, I have discovered that most people just don’t know how to mesh old-school style courtship with today’s technological cupid.  What I have concluded in my research is that there needs to be a blend of traditional courtship and modern expectations.

     As many of you have probably figured, I am not one of those women who expects a man to guess what she wants or what she is thinking.  I’ll just tell you.  So, when one of my suitors stated he had “never done online dating before,” and me being sick of hearing that, I thought, “hmm…this guy needs some assistance.”  I then typed up a list of online dating rules for him to follow and emailed them to him. – Yeah, I actually did that.  He followed them well but became too reliant on them and me to fill him in on what to do next.  Dude, you said you were new to online dating not dating itself.  At which point, I went back and tweaked the rules a bit and waited for another subject to test them on.

     As luck would have it, many men need these steps so I didn’t have to wait long.  I sent the new case study the updated version of the guidelines and he made it about half way through.  After our phone conversation, he said talk to you again later and, well, he didn’t.  Therefore, I quickly grasped he answered “no” to step 8.

     I have decided that this research should be shared and utilized to its fullest potential by my fellow daters.  And any man out there hoping to win over, maybe not me, but some woman that they’ve met online, I assure you, if you follow these steps you will get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Zia Zitella’s Online Dating Rules & Guidelines for Men

1) Actually READ the profile that is attached to the picture that caught your attention.

2) After taking a whooping three minutes to read her profile, decide if you’d like to contact her. A wink/icebreaker is acceptable only if you are pressed for time but don’t want this fine creature to slip through the cracks.  An email would be best.

            a. If you are looking at her profile after she winked or sent an icebreaker to you – DO NOT WINK BACK, you idiot.  If you are interested, email.  If not, move on.

            b. Do not be confused by the female “wink back.”  Those are acceptable.  She is informing you that it is okay to begin the wooing process.

3) Send witty, intriguing, and/or intelligible email.  Keep it short. No need for a soliloquy.

4) Receive reply email.

5) Continue emailing and decide if she is worth meeting.

6) Act on decision.

            a.  If you decide she is not worth meeting – cease further emailing.

            b.  If you decide she is worth meeting, ask for phone number.  Don’t just toss your number in an email and hope she uses it.  Be a man and make the phone call yourself.  Remember, you’re the one who is supposed to be doing the wooing.

7)  Call.  Avoid topics like Exes, recent break-ups, recent dates, how many other men they are talking to online, your boring ass job (she does not know you well enough to even pretend to care or take interest in what computer file went missing), your flaws, her flaws that you’ve noticed, and the like.

8 )  After phone call, decide if you would like to meet this person.

9)  Come up with date plan.

10)  Call (or email) and ask on date.

=> NOTE: Calling or emailing before first date is acceptable and encouraged.  It shows your interest and could earn you coveted brownie points for future use.

11)  Go on date.  Don’t be a schmuck.

12)  After date, call, text, or email her to let her know you had a good time.  Do not do this immediately after the date (shows either a quick write-off or stalkerish qualities) or wait three days before calling (lame rule and smart women will have moved on by then.)

=> NOTE: The woman may actually send you a quick text or email the next day telling you she had a good time.  She is not stalking you or sipping crazy juice.  She is just being polite and letting you know that if you would like to see her again, she’d be willing.

=> Additional NOTE: If she texts you more than three times and you haven’t responded or responded only once, she is sipping crazy juice and step away slowly.

13)  Decide if you want to go on second date.

14)  Plan second date.

15) Call and ask out for second date.  Do not say during phone call that, “I have no plan,” “What do you want to do?  I don’t care,” or “You decide.”  If you say any of these, you clearly skipped step 14 and should go back.  By saying any one of these, you instantly show laziness, that you want things done for you, that you can’t make a decision, and that you really don’t care – about her.  None of which will win her over.  Woo is also known as wow.

16)  Go on second date.  Don’t be a schmuck.

17)  Repeat steps 12-15.

18)  Keep wooing until ultimate/intended goal is achieved.

     Gentlemen, I believe these are very simply put and should be easy to follow.  Good luck on your flirting endeavors, I wish you luck, and hope to hear back with your success stories.  Ladies, feel free to email these along to your own suitors in need.

For a printer friendly version of Zia Zitella’s online dating rules & guidelines to hang over your computer, click here.



  1. Erica Said:

    Omg, I love this!

  2. Mama J. Said:

    Maybe that explains why some guys have totally ignored me….They thought I’ve sipped that crazy, stalker juice……haha!

  3. Kelly Said:

    This is great!! I would clarify about the emailing/ calling/ asking for a date timeline. I think it’s best not to waste too much time calling or emailing before having the first date. Otherwise there are too many expectations built up. Just bite the bullet.

    I especially like #12. 3-day rule is out, she moved on. I would also add to make that 2nd date quickly, for the same reasons. She needs to know you’re interested.

    I love that you are sending this around. And I call bullshit on the guy who said he never online dated before. I don’t believe that about anyone these days except if you’re recently divorced and in your 50’s. Just saying…

  4. Great explanation of the process! Some steps can be skipped, though. For example, a call is not always necessary, particularly for singles in metropolitan areas. After a couple of emails, you can just ask her out! If you do talk on the phone, you should have a plan for the date then – chit chat for a few minutes, ask her out and make plans.

    Also, I wouldn’t wait 3 days, I’d recommend calling after 2. This shows that you’re not trying to play games, but you’re also not too needy after meeting only once. Before you do the follow up call, you should know whether you want to go out again and can plan the date while you’re on the phone even if it’s for the following weekend. You want to show interest but making the process more complex just confuses everyone involved. Keep it simple. Speaking of “first date” and “second date” mindset is everything. I talk more about that here:

    Fun rules!

    • ziazitella Said:

      Yes, like I said 3-day rule is lame. So glad others agree. But I actually don’t mind a call the next day (provided they at least wait til the afternoon and not first thing in the am.)
      You know, I used to have no problem with skipping the phone call portion and heading right to the meet, but like I said, years of research. A lot of people come across as great via email because they have time to think about what they are going to say. In person, they turn out to be incredibly dull because they are not as “quick” with the wit. I would rather hang out in my pjs with no make-up to find that out. No point in wasting a good swipe of lipstick for a DUD.

    • Does anyone have this in a flow chart?

      So it’s 2 days, not 3?

      2 = not playing games

      3=playing a game

      A flow chart would insure I don’t mix this up…

      • ziazitella Said:

        A flow chart…hmm…yes, visual aids do help.

  5. […] in time for your weekend dating frenzy… Thank you to Zia Zitella and her ‘funny ’cause it’s true’ blog post on the Men’s Gu…. Here are her tips, and we highly recommend checking out her […]

  6. NjScorpion (New Jersey USA) Said:

    Tipping hat to Ziazitella ,

    Hello from New Jersey.. I just wanted to drop a note regarding your blog.. I loved it! It’s not only true, but actually funny to me! It’s a shame that the majority of today’s men, do not possess etiquette qualities, on or off-line! I may get b**** slapped for this, but It’s the woman that allow it! (SMILE)

    Btw, I thought your opening paragraph was truly exceptional!

    (New Jersey USA)

    • ziazitella Said:

      Thanks for the Jersey love. No b**** from me, you are so right about the women letting this happen. I, on the other hand, am not one of those. Time for other ladies to follow my lead, don’t you think? 😉

  7. DateDish Said:

    You’re welcome for the repost! Great guide!

  8. So true that it’s completely annoying when they have no plan.
    No plan for dinner definitely means he’s gonna have no plans when the pants come down.
    Just fumbling about hoping that the pieces fit together properly is not my idea of a great time.

    • ziazitella Said:

      Like putting a puzzle together with only corner pieces, your so right.

  9. Skye Blue Said:

    I’m late getting here, but love this list. It should be required reading for any guy who is planning to start online dating.

  10. taylor cast Said:

    adore this! i wish i could just put a link to it on my profiles. very well stated! cheers to you.

  11. Ross Felix Said:

    Generally speaking, I think is incredibly well written, and follows the ways that things SHOULD be.

    My only comments:
    1) I don’t think guys should ever wink as an introduction. Most sites give users the ability to favorite someone that they can go back and write to at a later date. Alternatively they could just jot a note down. With so many sites having paid / unpaid members, a woman might assume that he’s actually a non-paying member trying to reach out to her. Basically — if you’re interested — write her a note either that minute or if you’re that busy, write her later (when you can devote your attention to the note). And like Zia said, you’re not supposed to be writing War and Peace.
    2) Don’t let the emailing go back and forth for too long. More than 3 emails by each person is too many. By that point, you should have a phone call to chat BRIEFLY, and should be concluded with a date in mind. On this call, figuring out a date and time for the date would be a good idea.
    3) The guy should call / email to confirm based on the call in #2 — and he should not only have a PLAN for the date, but a backup plan as well. i.e. You planned a lovely dinner at an amazing fish restaurant — turns out she’s allergic. Have a backup plan — believe it or not, it does happen.
    4) The only think I think you really missed — is that this is 2010 — and I see no reason that the woman can’t make the first move to express interest by writing to him. But even so, if the guy is interested, he should step up from that point forward and make the plans and such.

    Great job !

    • ziazitella Said:

      2010 – Really!? I had no idea. When did this happen? 😛 I have no issue with the woman making the first move; however, from my years of experience, the ones that lasted longer and had the most potential were the guys who made the first move. In my journey thru Dr. D’s Love in 90 Days book, she says that the woman can initiate only one move (i.e. first email, first phone call, suggest a second date, etc.) but that’s it until it’s an established boyfriend/girlfriend scenario. I tend to agree with her a bit on that.

  12. Jay Said:

    I especially like the added phrase of “don’t be a schmuck”… makes me laugh when I read it. These rules are fantastic, now I just need a chic to reciprocate them… wish I had the writing skills to come up rules for women… Keep it up Zia!!!

    • ziazitella Said:

      Reciprocation is key. So, basically, we’re in the same boat. And what rules would you like to come up with for women? I’m sure some readers would have something to say about that be interested in your thoughts…

      • Jay Said:

        I will see what I can do, I am certainly not the writer you are but I will give it a shot… probably be a couple days to get my sh!t together…

      • Jay Said:

        I got beat to the punch on this. Scorpion wrote some good rules from the male perspective and I give him his props…

  13. Bill Said:

    Good day. I was lucky to find you in google.
    Your “topic” is superb!
    I obtained a lot of valuable info in your blog. Really. Thanks very much.

  14. NjScorpion (New Jersey USA) Said:

    Did someone say, “And what rules would you like to come up with for women?”.. How about some rules for woman with regard to first dates?

    1) If you’re performing on-line dating, don’t post pictures from 5 years ago. Yeah, you looked great then, but men would rather like to see what you look like now. (Same applies for men, I don’t wanna see what you looked like in 5th grade.)
    2) If you talk on the phone with a man, don’t be eating while talking, that’s not what men had in mind when they ask “Can you do two things at once?” (Same for men.)
    3) Don’t dominate the conversation. It should be a mutual exchange. I realize some men have nothing to say. But many do. (Same goes for men.)
    4) If you have kids, don’t dominate the first meeting with this topic. (Same for men.)
    5) If you don’t have kids and want kids, don’t bring it up on the first date.
    6) Don’t say you don’t have sex on the first date, then at the end of the first date, invite him back to your place. Then woman wonder why the man doesn’t respect them or call them back. I don’t care how good the first date sex was, there is no way the guy will call you back. Maybe for a booty call, but that’s about it. (Right on. Women have some self-respect.)
    7) If you’re having a first coffee date (not dinner), just offer to pick up the coffee tab. You’ll get a wow out of him. If he lets you pay, he’s a loser.
    8 ) Don’t talk about your ex or ex’s. Us men couldn’t care less. (So could women, it’s a major turn off.)
    9) Don’t try to have all your questions answered all in the first date. (Same for men. No one likes to feel like they’re on a interview for a job.)
    10) Dress appropriately. Don’t dress like “whoa” and expect to be treated like a lady. “Why did he say that to me?” – Are you kidding me?
    11) Don’t text or use your cell phone during the first date. That’s simply rude and if he uses his, he’s a loser. (Same for men.)
    12) If you’re not happy with the appearance of your date, then simply cut it at the quick. It may appear rude, but it’s easier to walk away sooner, then let the disappointment linger. It has zero chance of getting better.
    13) Don’t try and re-enter the atmosphere. If date 1 didn’t work, don’t call him and say let’s try again. If at any point he says it’s not going to work, don’t try and convince him he’s wrong. That never works. (These would be some of the crazy juice sippers I was referring to.)
    14) If you’re juggling several first dates and don’t know how, your doomed. Real men will pick up on you being convoluted. (Same for men.)
    15) Don’t put everything out there on the first date.
    16) Don’t play life down. Problem here, problem there, problems everywhere… Most men will pass on a woman with several issues.
    17) If you happen to see someone you know across the place, don’t leave your first date alone. He can say whatever he wants. He’s not happy about it.
    18) Don’t be meticulous about how your coffee was made on your first date. “Well, she or he forgot this or that.” Whatever, get another one later. Men frown on that as a constant complainer.

    I’m short on time, but I could write a blog about tips for WOMAN!
    Many woman ask, so what does a man want? To answer in one sentence, (who ever wrote the lyrics for Usher), A Lady on the street, but a FREAK in the bed…

    • ziazitella Said:

      @NJ – I love the list. I incorporated my comments inside in italics. I think you may be new to my blog and I’ve touched upon many of these same first date issues and most of them apply to MEN too. So I just added that in. 😉 If you check out “The Bad Date Collection,” you’ll catch a feel, but for some highlights click here.

  15. Man-shopper Said:

    I am translating this now. I intend to have it ready for the next schmuck. THANK YOU. So much. You may have just saved dating in Paris.

    • ziazitella Said:

      I’d be curious to know how “schmuck” translates into French.

  16. frost d. Said:

    one can argue that it can go both ways

  17. Erika Said:

    Fabulous list! My husband and I met on, but before I met him I dealt with a lot of schmucks.

    • ziazitella Said:

      I was beginning to think I was the only schmuck magnet, but turns out I’ve been hearing that a lot. Nice to know there is still hope for me yet.

      • NjScorpion (New Jersey USA) Said:

        Hey, Hey!! I don’t think just because a man or a woman is incompatible with “YOU” (put your name here), justifies name calling.. IF that was the case, I met well over 200 flaky, air head, brain dead, tunnel vision, loopy, vein, insane, wannabe, always looking for the better deal, I’m so pretty I can afford to be stupid, all about her, zero foresight, me, me, me WOMAN!
        But alas, that is not the case.. In hindsight, I just say we are incompatible, because I’m sure she’s right for someone else and I hope she finds him.. (wink)

      • ziazitella Said:

        Name calling? No no no, “schmuck” is more of a classification of people who are “incompatible” with me. I mean no harm by it. Sounds like you might be in need of a classification for those incompatible with you too. 😉 Hmm…maybe “divas?”…

      • Don’t be a schmuck.

        What makes a person a schmuck?

        Now THAT would be a great “how to” (how to NOT be a schmuck that is)…

        I’ve enjoyed everyone’s comments…thanks.

      • ziazitella Said:

        I believe each person has their own definition of what makes someone a “schmuck” to them. For me, it’s basically don’t do anything to someone you would want done to you.

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