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Avoid the Oops : Inappropriate Questions to Ask When Dating On the Internet

The Internet affords a little anonymity, a certain layer of protection that makes it easy to be bold. This is especially true in Internet dating. One partner may want to learn about the other as quickly as possible, when the purpose is actually to ease slowly into things.

Online dating has the advantage of a profile. There's no need to learn about someone else through trial and error, answer and question. It's all right there in a convenient easy to read list. That list of somewhat superficial details may sometimes leave the feeling that there is little left to talk about but the good stuff. The profile serves to establish a connection more lasting than that glance across the bar in a noisy club, but it does not mean the profiled person is comfortable enough to start asking personal details.

Judging someone from their profile is very much like judging a book by its cover. The profile offers a summary, a synopsis, of the person involved. A few exchanged emails are really just previews or sample chapters. Actually reading the book will take time and care, because every word needs to be thought over. Likewise, when meeting someone with the intention of forming a long relationship, keep in mind there is plenty of time to get to know someone. Dig first into the details freely offered, and there can be surprising depth in those shallow answers.

Once something is said (or at least transmitted over the Internet and read) it can't be taken back. Since this is an article about inappropriate questions, some clarification about what that means is probably in order, as well as why they shouldn't be asked. After all, how does someone get to know another person without asking those deeper, more personal questions?

One of the best ways is the simplest. Take a page from the Golden Rule, with slight modification: Ask only the questions that you would be comfortable being asked. In other words, if the other person asked the same question, would it cause discomfort for you? Think about it before asking that question.

For specific examples, a tough subject is often past relationships. It's perfectly natural to want to know the history of a new friend and potential date. Some of these histories carry a lot of baggage, and a lot of this baggage can cause potential problems down the road. But leave that alone for later. Almost everyone has a horrible breakup story, and what may sound bad is not necessarily so. Getting to know someone and how they react to difficult situations will make it easier to discern the truth of past relationships when the time comes for those stories to be told.

Folded into relationship history is the deeply personal question of sexual history. A new relationship is most definitely not the time for numbers and details. Of course, the topic should not be avoided entirely. It is a touchy subject, but if there is going to be sexual contact, then learning sexual history is absolutely vital for protection's sake. This is personal, but when two people decide to form a physical relationship, then it becomes private - between the two of them. When the decision is made to go forward in that area, the discussion should be open and free.

Aside from romance, physical or otherwise, there is the great relationship killer - money. To borrow a cliché, don't ask and don't tell. Those concerned about a gold-digger (of either gender) does not have to disclose an income or even standard of living. Conversely, those ashamed to be making a small amount of money do not have to warn the other person at this early stage. If the relationship develops to a certain point, money will not be as important, anyway.

Lastly, do not ask about the current dating situation. At that early stage, it's really not a concern. There is no commitment yet, so neither partner has a hold on the other or the right to know who the competition is. If the information will be a deal-breaker, then perhaps there wasn't a deal to be made in the first place.

The inappropriate questions don't always remain inappropriate. In time, they will become perfectly valid and necessary questions. Once the partners know each other well enough to become real friends, the questions may not even have to be asked. And if the questions should come up before that time, a simple "I'm not comfortable talking about this at this time," and changing the conversation to another topic should suffice.