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This weekend while I was visiting my parents, my mom asked me: “Are you over the last one yet?” I rolled my eyes without answering, because that’s how I do. But I appreciated how she didn’t use his name. Like he was some shadow that slipped into my life and vanished when the sun came out. Well played, mom. But considering her question … YES, I am over the last one! Dating hiatus over. Resuming online dating. Yee haw! (Maybe I’m playing up my enthusiasm just a tad in the name of optimism.)

Within hours of reactivating my profile, my Yee haw was more like Yeek. I had almost forgotten. So many men making so many mistakes. Do they not know or do they not care? Embracing the spirit of optimism, I’m going to assume they don’t know. God, I hope they don’t know, otherwise, I’m frightened for myself. Below, another installment of mistakes to avoid online, guys, provided you actually want to score dates.

1. Instant messaging before messaging. There are chat functions on many of the dating sites, kind of like Gchat. When you’re browsing, the icon signifies that you’re online and allows users to “chat” you. God. Please. DON’T DO THAT. Not before you’ve exchanged messages with someone and have confirmed that they WANT to chat with you. Even then, I would use it sparingly. It’s essentially the e-equivalent of an unwanted advance at a bar. And to the guy who IM’d me four times with nary a response, LEAVE ME ALONE! Personally, I think instant messaging a woman you don’t know, have never chatted with, makes you seem creepy and desperate. You can’t wait until I’ve consented to engage with you before hitting me up? That certainly doesn’t make me feel comfy about meeting you for a drink.

What to do instead: Send a message and wait for the lady to get back to you. If she does, you’ll know she’s interested and can proceed from there.

2. Too many emoticons. I don’t know how to say this without it coming off as bitchy, so I’ll just say it: EMOTICONS ARE NOT SEXY. Using too many emoticons makes you come off like a ‘tween girl. Aside from being ridiculous, they’re the bottom feeders of communication. I’m giving you tough love here. It’s nothing I wouldn’t say to my own brother, who, when he Gchats me overuses the smiley face emoticon along with hee hee. (This has earned him the nickname Lil’ Giggler, given to him by his wife.) But guess what? He’s not trying to score dates online. So let him smiley face and hee hee all he wants. He’s my brother, so I’ll let it pass.

What to do instead: Try, if you can, to avoid using emoticons in lieu of human words. I know, it’s tricky. But push yourself to find the appropriate phrase to communicate your sentiment. Example: “I’m looking forward to meeting you.” or “That sounds good.”

3. Pictures of you face deep in a beer. Or a whiskey or whatever your drink of choice is. There’s nothing wrong with you enjoying a drink with your boys, but what those pictures say to me are: I’m still really into partying!! While this may appeal to a woman who is still really into partying, it will not speak to women who are seriously looking to date.

What to do instead: Put the beer down, and pose for a shot where we can see your damn face.

4. Messaging women who live in other states/countries. While I acknowledge that occasionally LDRs are sparked online, your odds are better if you stay within spitting distance. A man from Germany messaged me and asked when I was coming to visit him. Um … never.

What to do instead: As Dorothy learned in her time over the rainbow, there’s no place like home. Look for women who live in your own backyard. Not literally, of course.

5. Highlighting your nomadic lifestyle. Traveling is sexy, never being home … not so much. It’s really a plus if you like to travel, but you might want to avoid bragging about how you “live out of a suitcase” or are “never home for more than three days a month” or how “your whole life fits in a backpack.” Guys who say those kind of things make me suspect that they are like George Clooney in that movie where he travels all the time to avoid facing the reality of his life. I didn’t see the movie, but I think that was the gist. Don’t be like George Clooney.

What to do instead: Say that you like to travel, talk about some of the best places you’ve visited, and leave it at that.

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