It’s been nearly a decade since the singles movie Swingers was in full swing, but for many the “2-day rule” is still in effect. These days, though, it has migrated from the phone to the Internet, and two days can easily turn into two weeks.
For those of you out-of-the-know, the 2-day rule is the assumption that a person must wait at least two days after initial contact with someone they’re interested in before getting in touch with them. This unwritten rule tries to mitigate a slippery slope – contacting someone you’re interested in too soon can come across as desperate, but taking too much time to contact them may seem like you’re not interested at all.
Taking some time between communications may seem like a good thing to do. Yet in the digital divide between intended meaning and what comes through in messages sent to your matches, you may find that applying outmoded offline etiquette like the 2-day rule to the online world may actually make you seem more romantically inept than socially adept.
Emotional Procrastination: A Cumulative Effect
Take the situation of receiving a communication request. A match sees something or many things that they like about your profile and take the plunge to send you a few questions. You read them but then make a mental note to answer them later. A day goes by. Perhaps two. Then work gets in the way. You’ll put it off until the weekend until you can find a stretch of time to focus your attention on communicating with them. Then the weekend goes by.
At this point, your match may start to assume that your silence is an indication that you’re just not that interested in even exchanging the most basic and noncommittal questions and answers. And you even may start to feel as though you shouldn’t respond because too much time has passed and it somehow devalues the potential for a relationship. All of these assumptions could cause you to miss out on a great person for you because of believing in this 2-day rule myth.
The main problem with adhering to unwritten dating codes like the 2-day rule is that its practice can become a form of emotional procrastination. Over time, it can morph into an excuse not to act on how you really feel. The smallest apprehension will cause you to delay responding, even though you do have even a slight degree of interest in getting to know the other person. In many cases of choosing not to respond to a match, users may be putting off what may be slightly uncomfortable right now for some vague later time that doesn’t feel as threatening. The bottom line is that this avoidance may cause you to miss out on the initial stages of getting to know someone who is compatible with you.
Proper Netiquette: What to do?
If you really want to get the most out of your eHarmony experience, initiate communication with all of your matches with whom you have even the slightest bit of interest. Likewise, respond even to those you’re just not sure about yet. In the stages of getting to know someone, initiating and responding to messages is just a friendly way of saying, “I think you could be interesting and would like to know more about you, so I’m going to ask you a few questions whose answers matter to me.” There’s no commitment; it’s just a friendly getting-to-know-you conversation with the added benefit of being able to ask questions pertinent to you.
Appearing overeager to someone who may have less initial interest in you can sometimes scare them away, but it’s important to remember that eHarmony’s matching and communication process is designed for people to be themselves. There is no need to play games or play hard-to-get. If you think any match may even have a slightest chance of working out, you owe it to yourself to exchange a few questions.
Many times the initial apprehension that prevents communications between two truly compatible people can come from either one of them (or both!) not having enough information about their match. Judging the totality of someone on their profile alone is not very realistic – there is a real person behind there! It’s important to keep two things in mind:
- You are already compatible with all of your matches on deep inner levels – that’s why we’ve matched you
- Sending messages back and forth is how you and your matches determine if the connection you share is interesting, stimulating and profound enough to warrant an in-person meeting to further explore the possibility of a relationship together.
The Tempo of Communication
The steps to get to an in-person meeting will be timed differently for different people. Some matches like to communicate online for months before meeting, while others seek more immediate timelines. No matter which tempo of communication you and your match feel is most comfortable, if at any time either one of you doesn’t feel that special connection – either online or offline – that’s okay.
The Guided Communications process is designed for you to discover more about yourself and what you truly require in a partner. But do give each match a chance. Who you find beneath the profile might surprise you. Even if it doesn’t work out, the image of yourself and what you are looking for in a mate will become even clearer, paving the way even further to find the person who is right for you.
Also remember that not everybody may be as emotionally advanced as you in the beginning, so if someone is practicing the 2-day or even 2-week rule on you (and sometimes 2-month rule!), don’t despair. The 2-day rule is based on assuming too much based on too little with a whole lot of unfounded expectations from the past thrown in. Sometimes it doesn’t mean anything.
The only real rule is you won’t know how someone will respond until you do. So, risk rejection. Put yourself out there even if you don’t expect much from the situation. Express yourself. Be honest. Be yourself. The special person who’s out there looking for you will be doing— looking for the exact same thing.