By Erika Ettin of A Little Nudge McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
Finally, you met someone great online! You went on a first date, and you kind of liked each other.
Then you went on a second date, and you got those butterflies. You went on a third date, and thoughts of exclusivity started permeating your mind.
When is it time to take down your online dating profile? Should it be after a certain number of dates? After you've had "the talk"? After you've changed your Facebook status to "in a relationship," the tell-tale sign of something being "official" for most these days? Or, is unsubscribing from receiving online dating site emails enough?
In this day and age, when virtually everything we do is online, how you portray your relationship status to the world is almost as important as the relationship itself.
No one wants to be on the receiving end of an email from a friend saying, "I don't know how to say this, but your new beau/belle is still on OKCupid and appears to have logged in within the last 24 hours."
I'm a firm believer in emailing and dating many different people initially to see who's out there. But at some point, when you think you've found the right person, it might be time to scale back on your online dating life and start to enjoy your offline dating life.
When you get to that point, unfortunately, there is no predetermined protocol as to when it's appropriate to take down your profile, but there are two pieces of common sense that you should follow:
-Don't log into the online dating site immediately after a date. Even if you didn't like your date, try to show some respect by not logging in until the next day. That way, you're not rubbing it in the other person's face that you need to immediately check out your other options.
-When things start to get serious with someone – even before you've discussed your relationship status – it's a good idea to minimize your online dating usage to give the relationship a chance to bloom.
I've seen that many people continue responding to emails during that initial period in a relationship, saying something like:
Thanks so much for your note. I've actually started seeing someone on this site, and I am going to try and focus on that. I can't really handle the multiple communications. Thanks again for writing, and good luck to you.
My question for those of you who think you're just being polite by sending this email is: Why are you still actively answering emails? If you really want to see where the relationship is going, then stop logging in to your online dating account!
Even if you're simply writing the email above, from the outsider (either your potential new love or his or her friends, as I mentioned before), it looks like you're still a very active user of the site, which can certainly backfire when trying to "focus" on the new relationship.
And finally, when you're ready to be exclusive with someone, the only surefire way to make sure you're on the same page is to openly discuss taking your profile down.
Heck, you could even have a "profile deletion party" with a glass of wine in hand. That actually sounds like a pretty fun date! ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating by writing unique profiles, helping to choose the best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind emails to get someone's attention, and planning dates)