Online Dating Etiquette 101: Privacy vs. Honesty?


It’s a bit scary, isn’t it, advertising on the internet that you are single and seeking love?

Some people won’t post a photo on their dating profile because they fear being discovered by family, friends, coworkers, clients, or students.

How much information do you need to put out there in your profile?

How much should you divulge over emails or IMs with a potential match?

How much do you talk about on a first date?

In Your Profile

  • Basics on you – age, height, body type, marital status, job type, hobbies, personality
  • Basics on your match – what kind of person is she on the INSIDE?
  • DON’T – use a username that you use elsewhere.

In your profile, you want to entice someone to write you (or write you back!).  This is not the place to tell your life story or write your laundry list of favorite bands.  Keep it short, sweet, and simple.  Leave her begging to know more.

For your privacy, choose a new username.  You would not believe the amount of information I can gather on someone after ten minutes on Google.   Unless you want your potential geek girl reading your post on the abrasive nature of chainmail that you wrote on a LARPing forum when you were 16, I’d suggest a new username.

Over Emails and IMs

  • Elaborate, elaborate, elaborate.
  • Keep your personal details personal.

Emails and IMs are the place where I was able to weed out the people I wasn’t really interested in meeting.  Maybe he had a decent profile and some good pictures, but if the spark didn’t continue in the emails and IMs that followed, that’s where I would cut it off.

This is a great time to ask questions about the things she wrote about in her profile and talk to her about the finer details of your mp3 collection.   However, it is NOT the time to reveal your last name, your employer, or any other details that would make you an easy target for a stalker.

“But e,” you’re thinking, “Stalker?  You’ve got to be kidding me!”

I wish I was!  It won’t happen in but 2% of the people you’ll find on the internet, but they are out there and you will thank me when you can cut the relationship off by 1) blocking them from and 2) blocking them from IMs.  When a crazy girl is showing up at the receptionist desk at work, it’s a little harder to sweep under the rug.

On a First Date

Here is where your discretion comes into play.  She’s made it out of the emails and into the first date territory, so she must be acceptable.  Use your gut – if she seems trustworthy, open up.   If you have doubts, steer the conversation in other directions and discuss events, not

Privacy vs. Honesty?

We all remember that honesty is important.  What do you do when someone asks for information that you’re not ready to divulge?  Be honest.  “I’d rather wait until we talked a bit longer before sharing that.  Tell me more about that awesome movie you saw…“  It can be tough to say, but as long as you’re not holding back on your last name after a month of dating, then she should understand and respect you enough to wait.

When Images of the Affair Haunt You

“I have these awful images of the affair, and I can’t seem to make them stop. They just keep playing over and over again like a horror film. I see him with her doing, unspeakable things . It feels like I am slowly going crazy .”

I hear my clients say things like this all the time. They are haunted by images of their spouses cheating with the paramour-even when they have no idea what the paramour looks like or what the two of them might have done together.

Despite their best efforts to stop this barrage of painful images they can’t seem to shut off their mental movies.

It’s one of the awful, though not at all uncommon, outcomes of being injured by an affair.

In many cases, the injured person will imagine aspects of the affair and then play the images over and over again until they harden into a rigid pattern.

If this has happened to you, it may feel like you have lost control of the movies that play in your mind. They seem to take on a life of their own and play on and on no matter how hard you try to turn them off.

You might even begin to feel like you are “losing your mind.”

Rest assured. You are not going crazy. Actually, the mental movies you play of the affair are a relatively normal response to the trauma you have been through.

As humans, we often run slide shows or movies in our minds. We do this for all kinds of reasons-to remember past events, to anticipate what may happen in the future, and to make sense of the reality we are dealing with in the present moment.

However, being normal doesn’t necessarily make it healthy.

The problem with the mental “horror” movies after the discovery of an affair is that you respond to them emotionally as if they were real. Every time these images flash through your mind, it’s like you are reliving the pain and trauma you experienced when you found out about the affair.

This makes it more difficult to heal from the pain and rebuild your marriage.

So how do you get rid of these images that haunt you?

Well, you have to begin by recognizing the obvious-things you already know when you think about it:

1. The images aren’t real. Even if you caught them in the act or even if they have some other basis in reality (for example if you know the paramour and your spouse has revealed the details of the affair), what is happening in your head is still in your head. It is not occurring in the real world.

2. Your mind is your territory-no one else can put images or thoughts there; only you can do that.

3. You’re in charge of your mind if and when you take charge of your mind (a corollary to #2.).

As I said, you know all this already. You know the images aren’t real. You know your mind is your own. And you know you are in charge of what happens in your brain even though sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. That’s one of the reasons you are so frustrated-you’ve tried and tried, but you still can’t manage to press the stop button on this awful horror film.

In the rest of this article I am going to help you solve that problem by giving you a visualization exercise which can help you put an end to the images that haunt you.

To start that process I want to ask you a question:

Are you sure you are ready to give up these painful fantasies?

I know the answer may seem absurdly self-evident on the surface. But one of the reasons you might not have already given up these fantasies is because they justify your pain in some way.

Perhaps you hold on to them because they show you that you have the right to feel the way you do. Or, you might have some other reason for holding on to these hurtful images. Work this out first, then you can continue to the exercise below.

When you are ready, the following technique will help you free yourself from the images that have haunted you and from the pain they have caused.

Changing Your Vision: A Visualization for Overcoming Images that Haunt You

You will need about half an hour to complete the following exercise. Secure a quiet spot where you will be uninterrupted during that time, then follow these steps:

Step 1: Calm Your Mind

Close your eyes and take a few slow, deep breaths. Allow your mind to unwind and relax. Feel the tension pouring out of your body with each exhalation. Feel your body begin to completely unwind. If you have my book How to Survive an Affair, you can use the breathing exercises in Chapter 2 to help you do this.

Step 2: Bring the Image to Mind

When you are ready, bring the fantasy you have been struggling with to mind. Imagine it in as much detail as you can. Take some time to see the vision completely. It may be painful to do this, but facing this pain is your first step to freeing yourself from it.

Step 3: Change Your Vision

Once you have the image strongly in your mind, try and manipulate it in the following ways:

. First, see if you can play the image in reverse. Imagine the mental movie you are playing is a DVD and you can walk up to the machine and hit the rewind button.

How is this for you? Does it change the emotional impact of the image? If it makes some difference, even a tiny bit, try bringing the image to mind and rewinding it five more times making the movie go in reverse progressively faster until it becomes a blur.

Pause between each rewinding, take a breath, look around you, and check inside yourself what emotional impact, if any, there might be.

Next try manipulating the size and shape of the images. Tune in to the various objects in your visualization. You might see your spouse or her paramour for example. Or you may be focusing on specific parts of the body. Or you might see a bed, a room, or other objects in the room. Take each of these objects and consciously alter its size and shape.

For example, you might see a lamp on a bedside table. Imagine the lamp was twenty feet tall instead of a normal sized lamp on a normal sized table. Give it cartoonish properties in your mind. To experiment further, you can also change the color of the object you are visualizing.

Go from object to object manipulating each one’s characteristics. Which changes help you feel better? Those are the changes you will want to keep.

Now change the auditory elements of your mental movie. If your mental movie comes complete with a soundtrack, make it silent, or change the sounds or the volume. If you hear people speaking, imagine they are speaking in the voice of a cartoon character, not in their normal voice.

As you make changes, keep checking for which ones help you feel better.

Finally, find other ways to manipulate your images. Once you have gone through the steps above, it may occur to you that there are other ways you could manipulate these images as well. For example, if you are watching the scene play out in your mind’s eye as you would on a movie screen, you may change the “camera position” from which you perceive the “shot.”

There are virtually endless ways you can manipulate the images in your mind, so feel free to experiment with them as much as you wish.

Once you are satisfied that you have changed your movie to something that helps you feel better, take a few more slow, deep breaths, open your eyes, look around the room, and gently bring yourself out of the exercise.

This visualization exercise is designed to help you in a number of ways.

First, it gives you a tangible way to realize that these images are happening in your brain.

Second, it helps break the rigid pattern mental movies like these tend to take.

Finally, the exercise diminishes the emotional impact of the images. By changing the image, you develop new ways of thinking that are potentially less painful than what you have been experiencing, and might even provide you with a new resource for handling the situation.

In fact, if you do the exercise regularly you can get the images to stop playing in your mind entirely and be free from the pain and horror you have been suffering with so long.

This will allow you to turn your mental energy to more meaningful pursuits-like saving your relationship.

Let me know how it goes with you. I’d love to hear about your marriage.

What kind of images are you haunted by?

Have you tried the exercise in this article to get rid of them?

What effect did it have for you?

Are you free of the mental movies you have been suffering with? If so, what has this changed for you and your marriage?

Post your comment to this blog below

I Have a Trust Issue with my Boyfriend

Basically I’ve been in love with the same guy for the last 3 years of my life. I’m turning 18 in may and I know I’m still young but I can see myself spending my life with him. Things were amazing at the start of our relationship. He was my prince charming, and still is my sweetheart. He is the only person I’ve actually had strong feelings for. We were doing great for about 8 months.


One day before our anniversary we broke up and it was really hard to deal with. I missed him like crazy but I still left my window of availability open. I wasn’t closing off my romantic life completely even though all I could think about was how much I missed him. We ended up getting back together a few months later and things were great but we started to fight.

We decided to take some time apart again. We’ve been seeing each other off and on again for about half a year. He says he doesn’t want us to date because he can’t just break up with me, its to hard to leave me hurting, I know it sounds like a player move but I can tell that he is just trying to be honest with me. He always ends up coming back to me when we are apart, saying he misses me like crazy, and one particular time was when he started dating this girl.

They dated for about 3-4 months and he kept coming to me saying he missed me, and when he was with her all he could do was think about me. They ended up breaking up but the problem is that they did have sex together and other than her I’m the only person he has been with and he is the only person I’ve ever been with. It stung to find out this but I accepted it because it’s not like I could tell him what to do when we weren’t together.

We decided to see each other again and things were going good until we started fighting again. One night he ended up having sex with her. It hurt so bad to find out what happened the previous night. I’m not an emotional person, and I don’t think any of my friends have ever really seen me cry but I had to go to work that day, and I kept having to leave till because I couldn’t help but cry. It hurt so much to know that this man that I love so much could cheat on me ( we weren’t dating but it might have well been called that)

He said he would make it up in any way he could, he felt bad that he hurt me so much. I decided to forgive him for what he did, people make mistakes but I have tried and tried for months to make myself believe that I trust him. But to be honest my trust was shattered that day. I still believe that he is a really good guy but now a part of me is always worried. Not that he is going to go out and sleep with a whole bunch of random girls but that the girl that he cheated on me with is still one of his best friends, which means that I have to see her when I hang out with him.

I’ve never felt hatred for someone like I do towards her. She stole what was mine, she took the one great secret that I felt I only knew, it was a great feeling until it was broken down. My mind goes crazy all the time that stuff could happen because it could at any moment. Should I be wrong for feeling this way?

He broke my trust and I try my best to be alright with her but I can’t help but wish she would just up and disappear. I hate her guts and I doubt that’ll ever change. I know he tells me that I’m the only one but my mind goes crazy. I think about what happened. Maybe I’m just crazy but they did have a relationship at one point, and he did have feelings for her, maybe his feelings for her are gone, but at the same time when you’re attracted to someone that attraction doesn’t just go away and that’s what worries me the most.

They are good friends and I don’t have the right to tell him to take her out of his life even though that would make things so much easier. He is worth so much to me, and he is worth fighting for. I want to trust him again, fully trust him. I want to fully appreciate him again like I used to and I think that can work but do you think that we should even try things over again? Every time we spend time apart I miss him so much and I feel happiest when he is in my life. I think that things would be alot easier in a relationship, it would give me the ability to trust him again.

I’m just hurt by the things he thought about me. That maybe his life is better if I’m just not in it again. I can see myself having a life with him, and I would love to make that possible but things are so confusing that I have no clue which direction I should take with him this time.

– kelseykrause

My Boyfriend Made the Biggest Drunken Mistake of His Life

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 months. A couple of days ago he confessed to sleeping with his ex while at a party completely drunk. What do I do? He’s quite a bit older than me, but that’s never been a problem or factor. I honestly believed before this that he was my soulmate. In my eyes before this happened he was the most amazing human being I had ever met. I loved him to pieces, and there was never a moment I doubted or was unsure of his feelings for me. We’ve spent every last second of every day with each other. I’ve met his entire family, and he’s met mine.


Problem is he lied to me from the beginning, he told me he broke up with his ex 6 months before we got together, but really they broke up only a month before we started dating. He broke up with her, and she wanted him back. They re-met at a party a couple of weeks ago, and they hooked up. He said it was very short lived, and was the biggest drunken mistake of his life. He said that she was crying, wanting to get back together with him, and he got sad and with the mixture of alcohol and whatever other feelings they ended up hooking up for about 10 minutes.

I love this guy to pieces, but I can’t get that image of them hooking up out of my head. I truly did envision a future with him, but now I’m so unsure what to do. He’s been sending me texts every 30 seconds, all day long apologizing and crying and saying it was the biggest regret of his life, and that I’m his soulmate, and that he needs me in his life. He keeps calling too, but I just don’t know what to do. He’s even resorted to asking me to hook up with a random, or even an ex, so he can feel the pain I feel and we can move on. But that, for me is a definite No! I’ve always been against cheaters, and said that I’d never put up with one, but I’m in this situation and I don’t know what to do!
– Needhelp

Min Min says:
January 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm
I suggest you not to think about it at all and give yourself enough time to calm down and you’ll be able to make the decision for yourself without anyone’s help.

But you need to let him know you need time to calm down and ask for his understanding, otherwise you’re not able to make any wise decision at all.

Don’t let anyone else affect your decision. When you’re calm, you’ll be able to view it clearly and your mind will guide you with no problem.

My Husband Cheated on me Two Years Ago

My husband cheated on me two years ago with a close friend of mine. It was a one time ordeal. However, he lied to me about it for over a year. I knew something had happened, but not what. I asked him over and over. He would tell me the same lie. Every word was exact. I consider this evidence that he is a good liar.


I have known him for over ten years. We have a young child together. He didn’t tell me about the affair. A mutual friend told me. He confessed when I told him I knew. When I found out, it was six months before we were to be married. I still married him. I love him and I want our family to stay together.

It has been one year since I found out. I have cut female friends from my life. I am reluctant to befriend any females at all. And if he is friends with a woman, I go psycho on her and tell her to leave us alone.

My husband get frustrated with me and wants me to just get over this. I am still having a hard time with it. I don’t know what to do. We can’t afford counseling. Am I wrong to not be over this yet? It was a one time fling, but I think it’s the fact that he wasn’t ever planning on telling me and lying for over a year that is so hard to get over. I don’t think he understands this, because I have told him over and over.

– Laurie Welch

Min Min says:
January 4, 2011 at 8:32 am
Hi Laurie,

Yes, you do need counseling, but I’ll see what I can help.

Let’s assume that as you said he’s a liar, so what’re you gonna deal with this? Do you want to leave him? What do you want from him? What do you want him to do? What can he do to make you feel better? What do you want?

It seems you rely on him and you’re not the type who would choose to leave him. What you need to do is not to hurt yourself. You’re hurting yourself. If this family is important for you and if you want to keep him, you must get this over.

You married him when you knew the truth. It means, for you, this is your choice to accept him, to forgive him. At that time you already knew he lied, but you made the choice. It means you value family over other issues.

You chose to stay with him when you knew he lied, but not when he didn’t lie, you gave him a second chance and forgave him. If you left him at that time, there would be no this issue.

Since you chose him it tells us that he has other virtues. He’s such a person. Do you accept him as he is?

If you go psycho on other women, you’re making things worse. It shows you’re not forgiving him and not giving him the second chance at all.